PETALING JAYA, 21 April 2020 – Technology, especially access to the internet and social media, has been a saving grace for many during this containment phase in combatting the COVID-19. But this scenario has also provided an opportunity for malicious groups to exploit the current pandemic and launch cyberattacks and cybercrimes.
“Right now, everyone is heavily reliant on their laptops or mobile phones to conduct their everyday needs such as online banking, shopping or donating to causes and charities. Criminals are not afraid to take advantage of that.”
Tan Kim Chuan, Head of Forensic at KPMG in Malaysia
An increase in COVID-19 themed phishing lures, high-risk fake domains and scams prove that cybercriminals are changing their modus operandi in order to manipulate fear and target individuals and businesses in a variety of ways.
According to CyberSecurity Malaysia, an estimated 838 incidents were reported from the start of the Movement Control Order (MCO) on March 18 up till April 7, with most of the incidents involving fraud, intrusion and cyberharassment.
In March 2020, it was reported that the authorities had opened 393 investigation papers (IPs) involving online sales of face masks as well as fraudulent withdrawals of Employees Provident Fund (EPF) savings with total losses incurred reaching RM3 million.
On April 2, Malaysia’s National Cyber Security Agency (NACSA) were informed of a malicious Android mobile app and a fraudulent website claiming to be from the Perdana Menteri’s Office to trick victims into submitting their internet banking details.
According to Tan, cybercrimes and scams have been successful because of its simplicity and it doesn’t require complicated countermeasures to prevent cyber incidents.
Some practical and logical preventive steps include:
1. Don’t install applications from untrusted sources. Look out for official announcements and only install apps from the Google Play or Apple App Store.
2. Beware of freeware video conferencing apps. Some of these apps were developed for ease of use, rather than with security and privacy features enabled by default. Require passwords for all meetings, never share your meeting IDs and enable waiting rooms to prevent any unwanted ‘bombers’.
3. Never click on unverified links in emails or text messages.
4. Do not open untrusted attachments.
5. Verify the legitimacy of sources before responding to any text message or voice calls asking for personal or sensitive information.
6. Report any related incident to the proper authorities via https://www.mycert.org.my/.
During this time when negligence or carelessness could accidentally open doors to an unwanted cyber breach, cybercrimes or financial loss, it isn’t only individuals who are at risk but also organizations that need to remain vigilant.
Hence, as an immediate measure, companies should focus on embedding pragmatic remote working security controls to deal with COVID-19 themed threats.
This includes implementing the following measures at minimum, in order to protect their business and remain resilient:
1. Educating employees and third-party contractors on working remotely, and various risks such as the proper procedures when connecting organization devices to public Wi-Fi.
2. Providing a mechanism for employees and third-party contractors to easily report any phishing, vishing or smishing attempts.
3. Quickly deploy cloud-based solutions to prevent and detect phishing attempts and update employees and third-party contractors about latest related developments.
For more insights, visit the KPMG microsite.