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Cybercriminals exploit popularity of social media in the Philippines

Adrian M. Reodique | April 20, 2016
The Philippines ranks third in the Asia Pacific region when it comes to social media scams, according to Symantec.

Cybercriminals are exploiting the high adoption rate of social media and seamless Internet access in the Philippines by launching social media scams.

According to Symantec's Internet Security Threat Report (ISTR) -- which provides an overview and analysis of the global threat activity in the year -- the Philippines ranks third in the Asia Pacific region and 20th globally when it comes to social media scams.

The report revealed that cybercriminals are adopting corporate best practices and establishing professional businesses to increase the efficiency of their attacks against businesses and users.

"Advanced criminal attack groups now echo the skill sets of nation-state attackers. They have extensive resources and a highly-skilled technical staff that operate with such efficiency that they maintain normal business hours and even take the weekends and holidays off," said Peter Sparkes, Symantec Senior Director, Cyber Security Services for Asia Pacific and Japan. "We are even seeing low-level criminal attackers create call center operations to increase the impact of their scams," he continued.

The report stated that the number of zero-day vulnerabilities discovered last year was 54, which is a 125 percent increase from 2014. The number of new malware discovered in 2015 also increased with 430 million.

Symantec also estimated that over half a billion of personal information records were stolen or lost in 2015. Additionally, the number of companies that chose not to report the number of records lost increased by 85 percent.

"The increasing number of companies choosing to hold back critical details after a breach is a disturbing trend," said Sparkes. "Transparency is critical to security. By hiding the full impact of an attack, it becomes more difficult to assess the risk and improve your security posture to prevent future attacks," he added.

The report also revealed that large businesses that are targeted for attack will, on average, be targeted three more time this year.

Meanwhile, crypto-ransomware attacks -- which encrypts all the digital content of victim and holds it hostage until a ransom is paid -- increased by 35 percent in 2015. Globally, the Philippines ranks 40th on ransomware attacks with an average of 17 attacks per day.

Cybercriminals also revisited fake technical support scams which saw a 200 percent rise in 2015. The difference now is that scammers are sending fake warning message to users' mobile devices to connect them to call centres which are run by attackers, in order to dupe them to buying useless services.

To protect businesses from cyberattacks, Symantec recommended organisations to use advanced threat solutions, implement strong security posture, prepare for the worst, and provide education and training for all employees.

Symantec also advised consumers to use strong and unique passwords for their accounts, be critical before opening an attachment, install Internet security solution, be wary of scareware tactics, and limit the amount of personal data shared on social networks and online. 


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