Cybercrimes: Email-borne threats, new ransomware families surged in 2020

AS new technology evolves, so do the cybercrimes that are committed. In recent times, cybercriminals and hackers have become more sophisticated by using more advanced and malicious tools to breach user privacy.

And yes, cybercriminals are indeed seeing the results. In 2017, two billion data records were compromised with more than 4.5 billion records breached in the first half of 2018 alone.

In 2020 when most people worked from home, businesses faced unprecedented threat volumes hitting their extended infrastructure, including the networks of home workers.

On the other hand, it was a year of opportunities for cybercriminals as they took advantage of the pandemic (restriction movement and work from home orders) and turn in illicit profits.

In its 2020 Annual Cybersecurity Report, Trend Micro Inc said it detected 119,000 cyber threats per minute in 2020 as home workers and infrastructure came under new pressure from attacks

The report also shows that home networks were a major draw in 2020 for cybercriminals looking to pivot to corporate systems, or compromise and conscript Internet of Things (IoT) devices into botnets.

The global leader in cybersecurity solutions found attacks on homes surged 210% to reach nearly 2.9 billion (amounting to 15.5% of all homes). The vast majority (73%) of attacks on home networks involved brute forcing logins to gain control of a router or smart device.

Email-borne threats (the number of times an email threat was blocked by Trend product per country) made up 91% of the 62.6 billion threats that it blocked last year.

This indicates that phishing attacks continued to be hugely popular with 307 million e-mail threats detected in Malaysia – which makes the country  the seventh highest in Asia and the third highest in Southeast Asia.

Furthermore, the cybersecurity solutions provider detected nearly 14 million unique phishing URLs in 2020 as attackers targeted distracted home workers.

Meanwhile, newly detected ransomware families increased 34% in 2020 with “double extortion” attacks and more targeted threats becoming increasingly popular with Government, banking, manufacturing and healthcare were the most targeted sectors. Malaysia is ranked seventh in Asia for ransomware.  


Source: Trend Micro


Ransomware is a form of malware that encrypts a victim’s files and operators maximized their profit streams with a double whammy.

Not only that they demand money from victims to restore access to the data upon payment and even increasing the ransom when payment was overdue, they also threatened to leak sensitive information if the victims didn’t pay up.

“Familiar tactics such as phishing, brute forcing and vulnerability exploitation are still favoured as the primary means of compromise which should help when developing defences,” said Trend Micro Malaysia and Nascent Countries’ managing director Goh Chee Hoh.

Goh added that global organisations have now had time to understand the operational and cyber risk impact of the pandemic.

“The new year is a chance to adjust and improve with comprehensive cloud-based security to protect distributed staff and systems.” – March 4, 2021



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