Latest security intelligence report found that attacks on accounts in the cloud have tripled globally as more organizations move their data to the cloud
Thailand, September 18, 2017 – Microsoft Asia today released regional findings from their global Security Intelligence Report (SIR), Volume 22, which found that Thailand is one of the most exposed to malicious programs. In the first quarter of 2017, approximately 20.20% of computers running Microsoft real-time security products in Thailand reported a malware encounter. This is more than double the global average of nine percent
|Ranking of malware encounter rates from 21 countries in Asia
#1 – Bangladesh
In addition, the report also found a significant decline in Thailand’s malware occurrences compared to Q1 2016. The malware encounter rate fell by 16.2 percentage points compared to last year.
Microsoft’s bi-annual Security Intelligence Report (SIR) provides in-depth data and insights into the global threat landscape, particularly on software vulnerabilities, exploits, malware and web-based attacks. In this latest version, the report tracked threat data for both endpoint as well as cloud, and profiled more than 100 individual markets. It also shares best practices and solutions that can help organizations better protect, detect and respond to threats.
“Driven by the proliferation of endpoints and the ubiquitous computing power of the cloud, the opportunity for digital transformation to make broad and profound impacts on our society has never been greater,” said Keshav Dhakad, Assistant General Counsel & Regional Director, Digital Crimes Unit (DCU), Microsoft Asia.
“However, for digitalization to reach its fullest potential, users must first trust the technology they use. Microsoft is committed to helping our customers and partners build that trust and the first step is to help them understand the multitude of cyber threats out there so that they can implement more effective ways to manage and neutralize these risks.”
Ransomware Attacks on the Rise
Ransomware is one of the most infamous malware families in 2017. In the first half of this year, two waves of ransomware attacks, WannaCrypt and Petya, exploited vulnerabilities in outdated Windows operating systems worldwide, disabling thousands of devices by illegitimately restricting access to data through encryption. This not only disrupted individuals’ daily lives but also crippled many enterprises’ operations.
The attacks were disproportionately concentrated in Europe while most of the Asia markets have not been too heavily impacted. In fact, Japan and China were listed as the two top countries with the lowest ransomware encounter rates. One of the few exceptions in the region is Korea, which has the second highest ransomware occurrence rate worldwide.
Attackers evaluate several factors when determining which regions to target, such as a country’s GDP, average age of computer users and available payment methods. A region’s language can also be a key contributing factor as a successful attack often depends on an attacker’s ability to personalize a message to convince a user to execute the malicious file.
Globally, Win32/Spora has rapidly become one of the most widespread ransomware families and it was the most commonly encountered ransomware family in March 2017. Spora encrypts files with several popular extensions, including .doc, .docx, .jpg, .pdf, .xls, .xlsx, and .zip. This ransomware also has worm capability, enabling it to spread to other computers in the network.
Cloud Accounts and Services Under Cyber Siege
As cloud migration increases, the cloud has become the central data hub for the majority of organizations. This also translates into more valuable data and digital assets being stored the cloud, making it an increasingly attractive target for cybercriminals.
The SIR highlighted a 300 percent increase in consumer and enterprise accounts managed in the cloud being attacked globally over the past year while the number of logins attempted from malicious IP addresses have increased by 44 percent year-over-year.
In addition, a large majority of these security compromises were the result of weak, guessable passwords and poor password management, followed by targeted phishing attacks and breaches of third-party services. As the frequency and sophistication of attacks on user accounts in the cloud accelerates, there is an increased emphasis on the need to move beyond passwords for authentication.
Building Trust in the Digital World by Strengthening Cybersecurity Posture
As the threat landscape continues to evolve and grow, organizations need to ensure they have a solid cybersecurity architecture and robust cyber hygiene best practices. This will enable them to better protect their digital environment, detect threats and respond to attacks.
Here are four best practices that individuals and organizations can consider to minimize their cyber risk exposures and stay resilient in an everchanging threat landscape.
- Do not work in public Wi-Fi hotspots where attackers can eavesdrop on digital communications, capture logins and passwords, and access personal data.
- Regularly update the operating system and other software programs to ensure the latest patches are installed. This reduces the risk of vulnerability exploitation. Users should also install the most recent release of Windows 10 to take advantage of its improved security capabilities.
- Reduce risk of credential compromise by educating users on why they should avoid simple passwords and enforcing multi-factor authentication methods. For example, the Azure Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) provides organizations with a two-step verification solution that helps safeguard access to data and applications while meeting users’ demand for a simple sign-in process by delivering strong authentication via a range of easy verification options.
- Enforce security policies that control access to sensitive data and limit corporate network access to appropriate users, locations, devices, and operating systems. For example, Microsoft Azure Active Directory Identity Protection enables enterprises to configure risk-based policies to automatically protect identities across their organization. These policies can automatically block users without proper authorization or offer suggestions that include password resets and multi-factor authentication enforcement.
“In today’s digital age, security cannot be an afterthought. It must be “built-in”, all-inclusive and intelligent. The comprehensive threat intelligence that we provide with our SIR as well as advanced security solutions and best IT hygiene practices will all play a critical role in integrating cybersecurity into an organization’s DNA,” said Keshav. “By making security a top priority, we can build greater trust in technology and enable digital transformation to reach its fullest potential and fulfil its grandest ambitions.”
Resources like the Security Intelligence Report are just one aspect of the Microsoft comprehensive approach to security – including a holistic platform, unique intelligence and broad partnerships – which is critical to enabling the digital transformation of leading organizations in Asia. You may check out the Microsoft Secure website to find out more.
 An endpoint is any device remotely connected to a network that can provide an entry point for attackers––such as a laptop or mobile device. Since users interact with an endpoint, it remains a key opportunity for attackers and a security priority for organizations.