There are risks of eavesdropping by external parties on private meetings and conversations

by RAHIMI YUNUS/ pic by BLOOMBERG

CYBER security incidents had surged during the first phase of the Movement Control Order (MCO) as cyber criminals became more aggressive in trying to milk millions by exploiting people who are mainly “stranded” at home.

CyberSecurity Malaysia said the total cyber security incidents that occurred during the first phase of MCO alone were higher than the total similar frauds reported in January and February.

The country’s cyber security specialist agency said most of the cases involved cyber harassment and fraud.

“There were a total of 10 cyber harassment-related incidents reported to the agency in January and February alone.

“However, during the first phase of MCO, there were already seven sexual and sextortion-related incidents reported,” CyberSecurity Malaysia CEO Datuk Dr Amirudin Abdul Wahab told The Malaysian Reserve.

Similarly, Amirudin revealed that the agency received four reports of fraud in January, another 12 in February, but the number spiked to 14 between March 18 and March 30.

“These cases of fraud largely revolved around issues involving face masks, Dettol, sanitisers and free Internet.

“From our observation within the first two weeks of MCO, there is a drastic increase of incidents reported to Cyber999, especially on cyber harassment and fraud. There is no significant increase in phishing incidents,” Amirudin added.

Amirudin said CyberSecurity Malaysia through Malaysia Computer Emergency Response Team (MyCERT) has also observed multiple malicious campaigns that spread malware through emails with malicious attachments and links to phishing websites related to Covid-19 topics.

He said the impacts of these campaigns are threat access for credential theft, information stealing and malware distribution and infection.

Amirudin said fraud over issues of selling essential items such as hand sanitisers and masks are at large with attackers creating scams using e-commerce systems and through social media.

He said attackers have also increased their harassment activities through blackmailing schemes as Internet users are hooked on social media more than conventional media such as television during this period.

He added that cyber criminals have been impersonating a trusted organisation and delivering emails purportedly containing accurate information on Covid-19, but they have malicious documents that will instal malware if users clicked on them.

Amirudin said hackers would also be attacking a lot of social media accounts to lurk and find vulnerable accounts.

The MCO period also forced employees to work from home and adopt teleconferencing.

As such, Amirudin said there are risks of eavesdropping by external parties on private meetings and conversations which could lead to personal data breaches.

“The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has seen many organisations deploying work-from-home methods to ensure business continuity and operational sustainability.

“While the process may reduce the capacity of virus transmission through acts of social distancing, it may inadvertently heighten cyber risks associated with organisations’ data and services remotely accessed by employees. Cyber security risks are triggered if telecommuting is not secured,” he added.

Amirudin further said incidents related to data leakage, unauthorised access by threat actors, compromised business emails and increased malware activities may happen due to poor network configuration, lack of cyber security awareness and vulnerable or unpatched end user’s system in an organisation.

In using a teleconference service, Amirudin said organisations should keep updating the platform as offered by the product’s provider to address “bugs” and security breaches found.

Additionally, he advised organisations to log in password that has a complex code according to the standard password policy with characters, case sensitive, numbers and symbols.

He added that companies could manage participants to ensure safety when conducting discussions, by identifying if the members are legitimate and preventing instances of participants displaying inappropriate content by restricting the use of cameras.

Corporations are also advised to ensure all systems including virtual private networks, network infrastructure devices and devices being used remotely are updated with the latest patch and secure systems configuration.

Amirudin added that companies should also alert employees to an expected increase in phishing attempts.

Individual users are also advised to refrain from logging in to their work environment using public WiFi and instead, connect either through home or mobile network data.

As for the public, CyberSecurity Malaysia has published advisories and best practices that include to always verify any information received from emails, text messages and social media posts about Covid-19.

“Do not share personal or financial information through email, do not respond to email solicitations for confidential information and do not simply click on links provided related to Covid-19 before verifying them with the sender or authorised agencies.

“Be cautious of suspicious activities. Cyber criminals tend to take advantage of global events and issues to conduct malicious activities targeting users and organisations,” Amirudin said.



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