This article is contributed by Goh Chee Hoh, Managing Director, Trend Micro Malaysia
In 2017, digital extortion was cybercriminals’ first and foremost money-making modus operandi. This can be seen in the biggest digital extortion cases last year – WannaCry, EREBUS and PETYA outbreaks. Even locally, nearly 20 Malaysian firms, ranging from government-linked corporations to financial investment firms were hit by WannaCry.
A report by A.T. Kearney highlighted that in recent years, with increased connectivity and technological innovation, the Southeast Asian region has been a prime target for cyberattacks. Without the right measures in place to tackle digital threats, the region’s top 1,000 companies is estimated to lose about $750 billion in market capitalization from data breaches.
As cybercriminals find online blackmail and extortion lucrative, we at Trend Micro believe that the future of digital extortion presents a risk-filled outlook, especially for enterprises and organizations. Cybercriminals will continue to go after big targets by making ransomware designed to exponentially wreak havoc, especially in office settings.
We predict that it’s not just ransomware that will be used for digital extortion. In addition to attacking the company’s business-critical documents, manufacturing plants and assembly-line robots will also be compromised. Malaysia manufacturers with their legacy systems and diverse hardware would face challenges to upgrade or patch in a timely manner, making them prime targets for attacks that exploit old vulnerabilities. In these industries, attacks can force production to halt resulting in losses as seen in the previous Petya attacks where organizations such as Reckitt Benckiser estimated losses of up to GBP100 million.
We also see attackers using digital smear campaigns against celebrities and companies, especially those attempting to promote an upcoming product or movie. In this day and age where customer feedback and social media reception are key to success, attackers may resort to sharing fake news to tarnish the reputation of companies of celebrities and companies — and to stop only when the victims pay a set ransom.
Finally, we believe that digital extortion will continue to feature phishing attacks and social engineering techniques to infect the computers and systems of unsuspecting company officers and executives with ransomware, or to establish a backdoor for data theft.
To read more on Trend Micro Security Predictions on 2018, please visit https://www.trendmicro.com/vinfo/us/security/research-and-analysis/predictions/2018 .
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Goh Chee Hoh is the Managing Director for Trend Micro Malaysia. In this role, he is responsible for Trend Micro’s sales and business development activities in the country.
Goh joined Trend Micro in early 1997 and since then, he has held various business development positions managing Malaysia, Thailand, India, Turkey and Russia. Under Goh’s leadership as a sales director since 2001, the Asia South Business Unit had achieved an impressive sales performance with sustainable 50% to 80% year on year revenue growth from 2001 to 2003.
Prior to joining the security industry, Goh’s experience covers the set-up of a Disaster Recovery Business Unit for a start-up, and being an EDP officer/System Analyst in a manufacturing firm. Goh was also with IBM for over a year as a Contract System Specialist, responsible for the management of the entire IBM Malaysia’s Business Recovery Center Operation.
With over 18 years of experience in the IT industry, including more than 12 years specializing in the Content Security Business, Goh’s forte lies in customer service, strategic planning, project implementation, organizational operations and team motivation. He also boasts an extensive understanding of the various challenges that arise from cultural diversity and has in-depth knowledge on trends and issues happening in the region.
Also published on Medium.