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Asia Pacific is the Most Targeted Region for Cyber-Security Attacks in 2021

Cyber-security threats and malicious activities have always been a global issue, causing billions in damages and losses. As the world contends with one disruption after the other, bad actors have remained mostly unchecked – case in point, the Asia Pacific (APAC) was the most targeted region in 2021.

In a reflection of these blatant criminal acts, this region – with Southeast Asia, China, South Korea, and Japan acting as engines of growth and economic sustainability – recorded one in four cyber-security attacks over the past year.

Credit: IBM Security

According to the IBM Security X-Force Threat Intelligence Index 2022, financial services and manufacturing took the brunt of these attacks. This report maps new trends and attack patterns that IBM Security observed and analysed from its extensive research library. These comprise billions of data points, ranging from network and end-point detection devices, incident response engagements, phishing kit tracking and more.

Based on its tracking, attacks on both financial services and manufacturing represent nearly 60% of all malicious activities in APAC. The report, which revealed that every attack was a form of ransomware, shared how these cyber-security threats negatively impacted businesses, such as data theft; widespread disruption of the global supply chain; and reputational and financial damages for targeted brands.

In terms of industry breakdown, the banking, financial services and insurances (BFSI) sector took an estimated 30% of the recorded attacks, while manufacturers recorded 29%. As for attack types that are favoured globally, server access disruption (20%) and ransomware (11%) are the top two on the list.

The press release that IBM recently put out shared how 47% of the attacks on manufacturing were due to vulnerabilities that organisations had not yet or could not patch. This puts the spotlight on how critical it is for businesses to prioritise vulnerability management.

Credit: IBM Security

"Cyber-criminals usually chase the money – now with ransomware, they (prefer) leverage. (As such,) businesses should recognise that vulnerabilities are holding them in a deadlock and ransomware actors are using that to their advantage,” said Charles Henderson, Head, IBM X-Force.

He also shared how the attack surface continues to grow larger and, as such, instead of operating under the assumption that every vulnerability had been patched, businesses should work with the assumption that everything can potentially be compromised.

“(They must consider) enhancing their vulnerability management with a zero trust strategy,” Henderson added.

Notably, the IBM Security X-Force report also confirmed that threat actors who prefer ransomware as their primary go-to are now looking beyond exploiting business vulnerabilities. There are signs that cyber-criminals are laying the groundwork to target Cloud Computing premises with ransomware attacks on Linux growing by 146% in 2021. There is also a shift towards Docker-focused targeting, a move that can potentially make it easier for more malicious players to target Cloud platforms.

  • APAC was the highest targeted region for cyber-security attacks in 2021, receiving an average of one in four cyber-security attacks

  • Industries that were targeted the most are financial services and manufacturing

  • New trends on the rise include signs of malicious activities that will specifically target Cloud platforms

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