By Bronte H. Lacsamana
With increased reliance on digital infrastructure due to the pandemic, cyber-attacks have become more lucrative, threatening organizations and institutions worldwide. This will continue in 2022, and individuals, businesses, and authorities must prepare for it, according to American multinational cybersecurity company Palo Alto Networks, Inc.
At a virtual press briefing on Thursday, the company announced its cybersecurity predictions for the coming year, zeroing in on the trends to watch out for.
Citing the 2021 Unit 42 Ransomware Threat Report, it pointed out the increase in profit from ransomware attacks in 2021, with the average ransom paid by an organization in the first half of the year reaching 28,529,924.43 PHP — 82% more than the year before.
“Due to the rising value of cryptocurrency and anonymity in ransomware payments, cybercriminals will have more funds and resources to launch bigger attacks on critical infrastructure,” Palo Alto said in a statement.
To combat this, it recommended investing in cybersecurity capabilities, running exercises to identify security gaps, and undertaking ransomware readiness assessments to determine level of preparedness.
Just this December, two of the biggest telecommunications companies in the Philippines, PLDT group and Globe Telecom, Inc., shared their recent increase in investments in cybersecurity given the many risks in a hyper-connected world.
“Cybersecurity is a team sport where everyone — individuals, businesses, and the authorities — needs to work together to safeguard the data and integrity of assets belonging or connecting to any organization’s network,” added Palo Alto.
DATA BREACHESLast week, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) announced that they would inspect financial institutions’ cybersecurity systems, given how rampant identity theft, phishing, and other cyber fraud schemes have become in the Philippines.
This is the kind of vigilance that all people and sectors in a country must consistently have to protect against cyber-attacks, according to Vicky Ray, principal researcher for Palo Alto Networks’ Unit 42 cyber research team.
“With the help of private-sector threat intelligence, governments should continue to leverage all instruments of national power to raise the consequences for attackers and reduce the profitability of their attacks,” she explained via e-mail.
Another form of risk that plagued the country is text scams offering fake jobs, which grew in number over the past few months amidst high unemployment and underemployment among Filipinos.
Ms. Ray noted that there are now many ways in which threat actors are able to get sensitive data and personal credentials, with unauthorized access to an organization’s e-mail system to commit fraud or data exfiltration being a prevalent attack in 2021.
Partnerships and collaboration are the best way to combat this: “[Cybersecurity providers] have access to threat intelligence and information on the activities of ransomware gangs, while the infrastructure of [cloud and telecommunications operators] is used by ransomware actors to propagate attacks.”
Putting these two together, with the authority of the government to back it all up, can form an effective united front, according to Palo Alto.