Microsoft is the household name in software solutions both for enterprises and consumers. We all know them for the iconic Microsoft Windows operating system that has become the most versatile, and most used Operating System (OS) to date (haters; there are always flaws, yes but it is the most adopted Operating System in the world). They are also one of the biggest enterprise software solutions provider in the world though. Their highly acclaimed Azure cloud network is currently one of the most competitive enterprise cloud solutions. With more partnerships in place the platform will only grow stronger. In a sense; innovation and growths is part of Microsoft’s forte, it is what they do and they are good at it, one of the world leaders in fact.
With innovation though, comes attention. With attention, comes threat. As innovation and attention growing too, threats increase and become increasingly more powerful. So today cyber security has become a topic that is as important as innovation itself. Especially for Malaysia as compiled by Microsoft’s Security Intelligence Report (SIR), Volume 22.
Malaysia has been pushing the digital economy fray as hard as it is possible for the region in the past few years. In the past few years too the region has been making waves in digitalisation of industries as well as a part of the 2020 vision. With the amount and rate of progress that Malaysia has made in the digitalisation of the nation as well cyber security concerns and issue is, not surpsiringly becoming a larger issue than it was ever before.
The main finding of the report is actually an interesting one; malware reports in the Malaysian region among computers running Microsoft’s security products reports a decline of 16.7% in occurrences. Despite the drastic decrease Malaysia’s malware reports, at 12.9% is still higher than the global average of 9%. That higher than global average numbers is actually quite concerning. It means that Malaysia, as a developing nation in the midst of rampant digital transformation is quite vulnerable to cyber attacks.
Malware is short for malicious software and from its name you can already tell that whoever developed these things are up to no good. The most common sort of malware you can find these days is something called ransomware. The infamous malware has gained its reputation as the most annoying malware to date by crippling your PC unless you pay a ransom to a designated account in some convoluted place in the world. The most infamous of ransomware attacks are the WannaCrypt and Petya. These are mostly targeted to outdated systems mostly in Europe and cripples its subjects by encrypting the PC it infects. The Win32/Spora is another infamous ransomware that affects cyber security globally but encrypting select file formats. It is also a worm which means it can spread across other computers in the same network.
As cloud becomes increasingly more accessible its security risks increases too. The SIR this time reports a three times increase of malicious attacks toward cloud accounts for both consumers and businesses. The number of logins into these accounts by malicious IP increased by 44% as well compared to last year. That highly alarming number is the result of poor password management and weak password.
Microsoft have partnered with CyberSecurity Malaysia for this report release though. In collaboration with the same partner as well Microsoft has come up with a sort of ‘Best Practices’ list for you to stay safe in the highly dangerous cyber world.
Be cautious when you are connected to a public internet domain
We all do this, we go to a café somewhere in the shopping mall or wherever; then you ask for the WiFi. You happily connect to it and start working on whatever you are working on (YouTube; we all get bored too, we know). Know that these connections are public domains that are usually not heavily protected. That means that there is a small chance that your activities on your PC could be monitored. Most of the time though these are things that are out of our minds, we are guilty of that. To ensure that you are safe though, you should ensure that your computer is always password protected. Some laptops come with biometric fingerprint sensors too for encryption.
Keep your software updated
Keeping your software updated is annoying, we get it. We get annoyed to especially during those Windows 10 updates; we keep it on hold to the last minute when it becomes inevitable because we still want to work on the PC. The updates sometimes takes some time too when you want to just turn your PC off. But the update means you cannot turn your PC off just yet which means you have to delay wherever you are going to wait for your PC to update and turn off. When you turn it on again it also gives you the update notice and it will be a while before you can start using your PC again.
However software updates and patches are very important though. Most of the time these updates not only bring new features to your software or operating system. It patches and upgrades your bundled security software and firewalls to ensure that your computer can keep itself against the latest of cyber threats. So the next time your Microsoft Windows pester you about updates, just do it. It will take a few minutes of your time but it saves you a whole lot of trouble of dealing with the problems when you do get attacks.
Use the latest security software and technologies to maximise protection
We are all guilty of not installing an anti-virus on our computers. Most of the time an anti-virus or security software can be quite annoying with their constant updates and warning notifications when you plug in your thumbdrive on top of the WIndows notification. Anti-virus software is important though. Of course you have to make sure that it is compatible with your operating system.
A compatible and optimised anti-virus software is not only less intrusive nowadays, they keep your PC from catching plenty of the malware floating in any given networks all the time. The latest patches from vendors also keep it updated on the latest cyber threats which means enhanced protection every time you update. They can also act as a second firewall to protect your data from being stolen or from phishing software.
Make a conscious effort on cyber security, make it a priority
We all want things easy. Because of that we tend to make passwords that are easy to remember. Most of the time also we use the same sort of password across all the digital services we use for our own convenience. The problem with that though is that the password becomes a master key to our lives. As soon as that is breached, our personal data is a goner.
There are plenty of password generators in the industry out there to create strong passwords. You can also use two-factor login solution to ensure that your accounts do not get breached by unauthorised users.There are also plenty of devices these days that come with biometric fingerprint sensors for an added layer of security at the same time.
Microsoft, as one of the leading if not the leading software giant in the world places cyber security very high up in their agenda. The SIR study shows their commitment to cyber security as well. The report though is just one of their initiatives to understand and to improve the awareness of cyber security and threats. For the Malaysian market Microsoft added a new initiative to show their commitment in making internet in Malaysia a safer place for businesses. They have launched their Cyber Security Self-Assessment Campaing for SMB’s in Malaysia with the intention of increasing awareness while equipping Malaysian SMB’s with the right tools for cyber security. To read the full SIR v22, you can head down to their website at www.microsoft.com/sir.
Also published on Medium.