Incidents of cybercrime are rising at an alarming rate in Malaysia and the Southeast Asia region with organisations seeing more cyber attacks in the past year.
Cybercriminals in Malaysia exploiting the fear and uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus outbreak. CyberSecurity Malaysia identified a spike in cyber attacks during the first phase of the Movement Control Order imposed by the Malaysian Government.
A total of 20 different coronavirus-related malware was detected in Malaysia by cybersecurity specialists Kaspersky, while Forbes reported that Malaysia is one of the top five countries in the world targeted by cybercriminals during the outbreak.
Before the outbreak, the rate of cyber attacks were still increasing. Microsoft revealed in a 2018 study that Malaysia could suffer a shocking US$12.2 billion in economic loss due to cybercrime.
In February, cybersecurity startup Technisanct discovered more than 35,000 credit cards from a number of banks had been breached in Malaysia and sold on the dark web.
In the future, cybercrime incidents may continue to increase with the advent of 5G technology as well as growing opportunities in the Internet of Things.
Home-grown talent make moves to combat cybercrime
The concerning cybersecurity threats have encouraged many organisations and government bodies to act on tackling the problem of cybercrime in the country.
In an attempt to solve security concerns while many Malaysians are forced to work from home due to the coronavirus outbreak, a tech company in the country has offered a solution. Linkdood launched a Communication Platform designed by cybersecurity experts to enable employees to store files and collaborate securely using private cloud technology.
In March, LGMS, a home-grown cybersecurity company, launched a Cybersecurity Lab with Austrian service provider TÜV Austria.
The Austrian Ambassador to Malaysia Dr. Michael Postl said: “This partnership has the potential to establish Malaysia as a hub for cybersecurity testing and certification for the Asia Pacific region.”
In the same month, Malaysian data firm Strateq also found success recently when Singaporean telco StarHub announced it will pay up to SG$82 million for an 88% share in the firm.
StarHub CEO Peter Kaliaropoulos said: “Our existing ICT managed services and cybersecurity capabilities in Singapore and Asia Pacific will be strengthened and diversified following the addition of Strateq to our portfolio.”
Last year, the Government-linked organisation CyberSecurity Malaysia also signed an agreement with Blackberry to protect some of Malaysia’s most important and sensitive data from cybercriminals.
The Malaysian Government joins the battle
While there is no single legislation for cybersecurity in Malaysia, the National Cyber Security Agency is tasked with implementing the National Cyber Security Policy to ensure a strong culture of security and achieve the Government’s Vision 2020 plan.
On Safer Internet Day in February, The Ministry of Education also revealed plans to introduce a National Cyber Security Awareness Module to 300 schools across the country.
During the announcement, Prof Dr Mohamad Fauzan Noordin, Head of Cybersecurity Cluster at the Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation, agreed that cybersecurity laws should be tightened.
Malaysia shows signs of improvement in the war against cybercriminals
A recent study by Cisco found that companies in Malaysia received 3% less cyber alerts in 2019 compared to 2018, which was better than the average in Asia Pacific. The study also reported that breaches costing companies US$1 million or more fell from 50% in 2018 to only 23% in 2019.
But the battle isn’t won yet. Malaysia and the Asia Pacific have a long way to go. The region still receives more alerts on a daily basis than other regions surveyed by Cisco, while the number of investigated alerts also saw a decline across the region since 2018.
How can you prevent cybercrime and help fight this battle?
One way for businesses to promote a culture of cybersecurity. This can be done by increasing representation and encouraging discussion of cybersecurity in board meetings. A Chief Information Security Officer could be employed to achieve this.
Malaysia CyberSecurity Leader Jason Yuen said: “The role and function of the CISO is relatively new in Malaysia, with Bank Negara leading the way in mandating the establishment of the CISO role in financial institutions. CISOs should focus on building a common understanding of cybersecurity, risks and their value proposition.”
As consumers, customers and Internet users, there are a number of ways we can help to prevent cybercrime:
- Remember to use a different password for each account that you own
- Avoid accessing sensitive information and saving your details when using public WiFi
- Read emails carefully to avoid phishing attacks. Look out for poor spelling and grammar
- Review website URLs and check if they are secure
If we all practice better cybersecurity, the battle against cybercriminals becomes easier.