Microsoft and CAT join forces in Southeast Asia’s first threat-intelligence-sharing partnership to strengthen Thailand’s digital defenses

 |   Pornravee Suramool

CAT joins Microsoft’s Global Cyber Threat Intelligence Program (CTIP) to protect its networks and enterprise customers.

Keshav Dhakad and Dr. Surapant Meknavin
Keshav Dhakad (left), Regional Director of the Intellectual Property & Digital Crimes Unit, Microsoft Asia, and Dr. Surapant Meknavin (right), Director, Board of Directors and President (Acting) of CAT Telecom PCL, announce Southeast Asia’s first strategic partnership under the global Cyber Threat Intelligence Program (CTIP) to enhance Thailand’s ability to combat malware threats in today’s digital landscape.

BANGKOK — June 30, 2016 — Microsoft Corp. on Thursday announced a strategic partnership with CAT Telecom Public Co. Ltd., the largest telecommunications service provider in Thailand, under the global Cyber Threat Intelligence Program (CTIP). The strategic partnership will enable CAT to gain better visibility into malware threats and related intelligence, reinforcing Thailand’s defenses against cybersecurity threats. Through this agreement, CAT Telecom — and its award-winning IT security business CAT cyfence — will become the first telecommunications company in Southeast Asia to enter the program to protect its networks and enterprise customers, joining other distinguished internet service providers from around the world.

Conceived and operated by the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit (DCU), CTIP provides partners such as computer emergency response teams (CERTs) and internet service providers (ISPs) with actionable information on devices compromised by malware. The CTIP database now contains information on over 70 million IP addresses associated with infected devices. Since the program’s initiation in 2013, Microsoft and CTIP partners have worked together to eliminate malware threats on millions of devices.

“The latest edition of the Microsoft Security Intelligence Report shows that the malware encounter rate1 (ER) in Thailand at the end of 2015 had risen by 6.9 percent from the previous quarter, while the number of computers cleaned per mille2 (CCM) more than doubled from 22.2 to 46.3,”3 said Orapong Thien-Ngern, General Manager for Microsoft (Thailand) Ltd. “Both figures show that Thailand is now more exposed than ever to digital threats that are quickly growing in both numbers and sophistication — a natural consequence from our transition into a digital society.”

The rise in the malware encounter rate is not surprising. Data from BSA | The Software Alliance indicates that 69 percent of software installed in computers in Thailand throughout 2015 was unlicensed — well above the Asia Pacific average of 61 percent4 — while a joint IDC-National University of Singapore study put Thailand in the global top three countries in piracy-driven malware infection rates on new PCs.5

“Unless there is a more concerted, nationwide effort to eliminate the malware threat, the people of Thailand will continue to face a multitude of risks, ranging from simple losses of personal data to catastrophic financial damage or even lawsuits and loss of trust for businesses,” Orapong said. “Our partnership with CAT under the Cyber Threat Intelligence Program is an important step forward in ensuring public safety in the online world for Thailand.”

“As a telecommunication service provider, we know better than anyone that it is more and more difficult to find an online threat that is truly isolated,” said Dr. Surapant Meknavin, Director, Board of Directors and President (Acting) of CAT Telecom PCL. “Even one unattended point of attack can lead to significant and widespread damage. According to the Thailand Computer Emergency Response Team (ThaiCERT), the number of reported cyberattacks in Thailand rose by 30 percent in 2015 to over 4,300 incidents — 35 percent of which were caused by malware. With CAT Telecom joining forces with Microsoft, our customers can rest assured that their data will be safer thanks to a more proactive approach that allows us to terminate the malware’s connection with its home base. The CAT cyfence Security Operation Center (SOC) can then notify the customer of the threat in order to determine the root cause and eliminate the infection.”

In addition to threat isolation and termination, CTIP partners also provide Microsoft with information on additional, previously undetected threats on the infected machines. This allows Microsoft to increase the sophistication of its threat detection systems, identify criminal networks and further enhance the effectiveness of CTIP for partners.

“So far, Microsoft has helped rescue and clean more than 10 million computers with malware infections6, and we continue to work with partners around the world to fight and disrupt cybercriminal networks, reduce digital risks and make the internet safer,” said Keshav Dhakad, Regional Director of the Intellectual Property & Digital Crimes Unit, Microsoft Asia. “The recent release of our Malware Infection Index 2016 report shows that the Asia Pacific region is especially vulnerable to malware attacks, with four Southeast Asian nations included in the top five locations facing the highest risk of infection.”

“With Thailand currently ranked third in our Asia Pacific risk list and seventh in the global rankings, we are very pleased to see the country step up its efforts to battle against digital threats,” Dhakad added. “This landmark agreement between Microsoft and CAT Telecom is the first of its kind in Southeast Asia and an important first step in establishing a united front against cybercrime.”