SINGAPORE (May 12): As Covid-19 catalyses the digitalisation of the twenty-first century economy, financial institutions are increasingly exposed to cybersecurity threats. They all maintain that they take security seriously but with the rapidly-growing volume of digital transactions done online and so much confidential data floating around, cyber criminals are always tempted to give it a go.

“The first half of 2019 saw a 50% increase in attacks by mobile banking malware compared to 2018. This malware can steal payment data, credentials, and funds from victims’ bank accounts, and latest versions are made available for widespread distribution to anyone that’s willing to pay the malware’s developers,” notes a report by cybersecurity firm Checkpoint Research. FS-ISAC found that phishing attacks on financial institutions have surged by a third during the pandemic, while there has also been a spike in fake domains with a financial theme as online scammers seek to prey on the public’s need for capital amid the present state of economic uncertainty. 

Greater US-China rivalry post-pandemic could also see increased prevalence of cyberattacks related to such great power contestation, a good example being attacks associated with the contentious South China Sea dispute. “[Advanced persistent threat] groups that target governments in the region are frequently interested in topics related to the South China Sea. And they are increasingly active during times of heightened political tension or transition,” noted a report by Fireye Threat Intelligence on the Southeast Asian cyberthreat landscape. 

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