Anonymized data voluntarily provided by Kaspersky customers showed that 7 in 10 (68.95%) phishing attempts targeted finance-related transactions in the Philippines from February to April this year. This is the highest percentage of phishing attempts in Southeast Asia.
The cybersecurity company detected and blocked phishing attacks against three financial categories: banks, e-commerce stores, and payment systems.
Statistics from Kaspersky Security Network (KSN) revealed that phishing attempts in the Philippines are higher than in Indonesia (65.90%), Singapore (55.67%), Thailand (55.63%), Malaysia (50.58%), and Vietnam (36.12%).
In all three finance categories during the same three-month period, Kaspersky data showed that there were 1 in 2 (58.50%) phishing attempts against payment systems in the country such as credit cards, debit cards, and mobile payment apps or e-wallets. This number is the highest among countries in SEA.
On the other hand, the same data also showed that phishing attempts in local banks were the lowest in the region at only 2.17%, while phishing attempts versus e-commerce shops in the country were the second-lowest among SEA countries at 8.28%.
The percentages are from anonymized data based on the triggering of the deterministic component in Kaspersky’s Anti-Phishing system on user computers. The component detects all pages with phishing content that the user has tried to open by following a link in an e-mail message or on the web, as long as links to these pages are present in the Kaspersky database.
“It is known that cybercriminals follow the money trail, so it is important for banks, app developers, and service providers to integrate cybersecurity from the beginning of application development,” said Yeo Siang Tiong, general manager for Southeast Asia at Kaspersky. “We expect hackers to target the rising Super Apps, both its infrastructure and its users through social engineering attacks. We urge all fintech companies to deploy a secure-by-design approach in their systems and to continuously provide proactive education for their users in this period where phishing attacks continue to thrive.”
Some steps organizations can take include:
Considering a threat intelligence platform. Another key component to include would be to ensure access to the latest IT security trends/threats – that is also known as threat intelligence. Threat intelligence will give the insight to act on, and paint a bigger, more accurate picture of the bank’s digital presence, to educate senior stakeholders about the ongoing risks and vulnerabilities. This will empower them to be able to make informed decisions on what needs to be done to keep the potential harm at bay, refine existing security processes to better defend against known threats, and plug any gap in the IT infrastructure on an ongoing basis.
Ensuring any third-party vendors’ cybersecurity systems are also updated. There have been increasing reports on how breaches to third-party security systems have implicated businesses. Whether you are the bank, the Government, or a private enterprise, no one is immune from these security threats, and it is important that we heighten our vigilance when it comes to cybersecurity. It does not matter how secure your third-party vendor tells you their systems are, as the elevated prominence of supply chain attacks has shown us that it is important to take responsibility for your own cybersecurity posture rather than leaving it in your partners’ hands.
As parties are impersonated by threat actors, the implementation of defense measures needs to go beyond protecting their systems. Banks need to take proactive measures to remind their customers against falling prey to their impersonators and their phishing and scam attacks, even if they happen outside of their systems.
Some things to keep in mind that can help individuals protect themselves against phishing attacks include:
- Not responding. Even prompts to reply like texting “UNSUBSCRIBE” or “STOP” can be a trick to identify active phone numbers. Attackers depend on your curiosity or anxiety over the situation at hand, but you can choose not to engage.
- Avoid using any links or contact information in the email or message. Go directly to contact channels where possible. Remember that urgent notices can be verified directly on online accounts or via an official phone helpline.
- Look out for mistakes, typos, and strange characters in the text. Some threat actors really struggle with English, or some mistakes are intentionally made (such as using numbers to replace certain alphabets, eg “Bank L0an” instead of “Bank Loan”) in an attempt to bypass spam filters.
- Slowing down if a message is urgent. Emails and SMS are often read on the go, when one is distracted or in a hurry, leaving one’s guard down. Approach offers as caution signs of possible phishing, remain calm, and proceed carefully.
- Download an anti-malware app, which can protect against malicious apps such as Kaspersky Total Security for a safety net.