Ransomware attacks on South-east Asian SMEs fall in first half of 2020: cybersecurity firm

SEPTEMBER 04, 2020 - 12:54 AM

RANSOMWARE attacks on computeres of small and medium enterprises (SME) in South-east Asia have in the first half of this year have dropped to about one-third of the number seen in the same period last year, according to a cybersecurity firm.

Kaspersky said it detected and blocked 504,304 ransomware attacks from January to June 2020 in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, down from about 1.4 million hits during the same period in 2019.

Ransomware is a malicious software that infects one’s computer, locks the computer screen or encrypts important files with a key, and displays messages demanding a fee to be paid in exchange for the promise to have the computer to work again. Kaspersky said.

The company blocked 277 hits on Singapore companies during those six months this year - a reduction of 90 per cent compared to last year. This is followed by Malaysia, which saw an 88 per cent drop to 6,683 hits. Indonesia saw a 68 per cent drop with 268,166 hits.

There are two main reasons for the observed decrease in ransomware hits in the region, Kaspersky said. One is the decline of one of the biggest ransomware groups, WannaCry, that hit organisations worldwide in 2017. The other is due to upgrades in software systems that reduced the vulnerability of computer systems; the Microsoft Windows operating system has been the target of this malware, it said.

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However, the company warned that it is not a reason for companies to put their guard down.

"It is good news that ransomware detections against SMEs in the region have become lesser in quantity, but the recent headline-grabbing incidents involving Maze ransomware and the recent WastedLocker attack which allegedly earned US$10 million in one infection should be a clear reminder for all companies," Yeo Siang Tiong, general manager for South-east Asia at Kaspersky, said.