Research by Group-IB, a cybersecurity company based in Singapore, shows that scams using brand names and logos more than doubled year-on-year in 2022 in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region.
In its report on Digital Risk Trends, an analysis of the world’s two most common cyber threats — scams and phishing — Group-IB found that the average number of scam resources created per brand reached 211% in APAC.
As a result, the number of phishing websites is now three times higher than in 2021.
To conduct this research, Group-IB experts leveraged the neural networks and machine-learning algorithms incorporated into the company’s proprietary Digital Risk Protection platform.
Group-IB also observed a significant increase in the number of people engaged in scam activity, driven by the frequent use of social media.
Use of social media
“Social media often serves as the first point of contact between scammers and victims, as was evident in the APAC region last year,” the report said.
In the APAC region, 76% of scam resources targeting companies in seven core sectors (financial institutions, banks, telecommunications and media, oil and gas, aviation, insurance, and manufacturing) were found to originate from social media, as observed by Group-IB.
Group-IB analysts discovered that 58% of scam resources targeting companies in these seven core economic sectors were created on social media.
Most attacked sectors
According to Group-IB, scams accounted for 57% of all financially motivated cybercrime in 2021, surpassing phishing, ransomware, malware, and DDoS attacks.
The financial sector was the most targeted industry, as 74.2% of intellectual property violations, such as the illegal use of trademarks, misrepresentation of brand partnerships, scam advertising, fake social media and messenger accounts, and fake brand applications, targeted companies in this vertical. Other heavily affected sectors were lotteries (12%), oil and gas (5.3%), and retail (3.2%). Finance and social media were the two most commonly phished industries.
A major driver of the increase in scam activity and a growing trend seen throughout the underground economy is the automation of many previously manual processes that required technical know-how.
“Scams are also becoming more automated, as the ever-increasing number of new tools available to would-be cybercriminals has lowered the barrier of entry,” said Afiq Sasman, head of the Digital Risk Protection Analytics Team in the Asia Pacific, Group-IB. “We expect to see AI also play a greater role in scams in the future.”
Threat actors are able to scale their operations more quickly, and the increasingly larger ecosystem and role distribution provide greater safety.
“This trend is likely to increase in the future, given that cybercriminals can use AI-driven text generators to create ever-more convincing copy for their scam and phishing campaigns,” the report said.