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Malware threat looms large over Singapore cyber attack surge


Yeo Siang Tiong (Kaspersky)

Credit: Kaspersky

Cyber threats in Singapore surged in the first calendar quarter of 2021, with malware taking its place as the undisputed driver of the intensifying threat landscape, according to cyber security firm Kaspersky. 

The latest data from the Kaspersky Security Network (KSN), covering January to March this year, shows that Kaspersky products detected and prevented 2,292,270 web threats in Singapore, a whopping 262.5 per cent leap from just 632,360 web threats blocked in the same period last year. 

Moreover, while Singapore is one of the lowest ranked countries in Southeast Asia – especially the ASEAN region – when it comes to detected web threats, Singapore was the highest in the region for being a source of online threats. 

According to Kaspersky, 4,484,017 incidents were caused by servers hosted in Singapore, placing it tenth in the world. 

“Singapore being used as a launch pad or a jump-intermediary for cyber attacks is a by-product of the country’s highly developed digital ecosystem and her role as the regional data hub where cloud providers locate their infrastructure,” said Yeo Siang Tiong, Kaspersky Southeast Asia general manager.  

Kaspersky’s findings come amid a backdrop of high-profile attacks in the Singapore and broader ASEAN market, with the first quarter of 2021 seeing a series of malicious cyber attacks affecting a variety of industries ranging from telecommunications to retailers and airlines.  

In early March, both Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines warned their respective frequent flyer members of attacks conducted via third-party providers. Just weeks earlier, Singtel revealed that software it had been using was “illegally attacked by unidentified hackers” via third-party vendor Accellion. 

Kaspersky suggested that the common thread running through many of the cyber incidents weathered by businesses in the local market during the first quarter was that malware was responsible for hijacking and exploiting vulnerabilities in servers that resulted in the leakage of personal data.  

Indeed, fresh data from the KSN showed that malware was one of the top five attack vectors of web threats in 2020 and the year before. 

Read more Cyber espionage campaign targets Southeast Asian government

“The recent cyber attack incidents remind us that no industry is completely immune,” said Yeo. “Supply chain attacks are expected to feature more prominently when it comes to data breaches over the coming years, where services companies use often end up compromised by cybercriminals exploiting the vulnerabilities in servers and planting malware within them.  

“Eventually, this single touchpoint can be the launching pad where additional cyber attacks are launched to compromise more companies,” he said.  

Kaspersky’s research comes as fellow cyber security vendor Check Point Software identifies a Chinese threat group as being the culprit behind a new cyber espionage weapon after the cyber security provider identified and blocked an ongoing surveillance operation targeting an unnamed Southeast Asian government.

Tags malwarekasperskySingaporecybersecurity

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