Retail and Financial Institutions to Feel Wrath of Cybercriminals in 2015

Retail and financial institutions outside of the U.S. will feel the wrath of cybercriminals in 2015, warns security expert Trend Micro Incorporated.

Threat defense experts at Trend Micro are anticipating the rise of targeted attack campaigns across the Asia Pacific region. This comes on the heels of 2014’s glut of successful large-scale data breaches targeting victims around the world.

According to a report released by the company, targeted attacks campaigns will continue to multiply in 2015, becoming the norm rather than the exception.

Noteworthy cases in the United States and China show that targeted attacks have become a preferred means of intelligence gathering for cybercriminals. The motivations behind these campaigns include obtaining financial information, personal data, and top secret classified government data.

Trend Micro threat defense experts predict that targeted attacks will continue to sprout outside of commonly targeted areas like the U.S. They have already noted attacks against organizations in Vietnam and India, and recently in Malaysia and Indonesia. Future attacks in other APAC countries can be expected.

In particular, social media will increasingly be abused as infection vectors. Threat actors will also explore the viability of exploiting router vulnerabilities as a means of getting in to target networks.

“What we are seeing today is not a huge surprise. Cybercriminals have increased their velocity and the brutal measures they use to steal information,” said Dhanya Thakkar, Managing Director, Asia Pacific, Trend Micro. “Following the success of targeted attacks from Chinese and Russian cybercriminals, many attackers from other countries will regard cyber-attacks as a more practical method to grab a foothold in an organization.”

“With the incessant barrage of data breaches emerging almost daily, it’s reasonable to presume that data breaches will be essentially regarded as a common offshoot of the present threat landscape,” Thakkar added.

Users should expect that at least one of their accounts, whether on web services or online portals, will be compromised. The prevalence of social media usage in APAC – with about 970 million active social media users – will make users in the region viable targets.

Given the predicted increase of attacks next year, cybercriminals will more opportunities to steal user credentials. As a result, users must become more diligent when it comes to password use and online security.

The increased adoption of mobile devices will also increase the risk for mobile users. Android—the top mobile platform in APAC, making up an average of 71% of total impressions—has a fragmentation problem.

This means the software version running on a user’s device is dictated by hardware support. Cybercriminals can take advantage of this fragmentation problem by developing exploits for existing device vulnerabilities that have not yet been patched. This can be done using exploit kits similar to the infamous Blackhole Exploit Kit.

The report also reveals that online banking threats will continue to become more severe as more unique cybercrime attacks against financial institutions emerge. New payment methods will introduce new threats to the mobile landscape.

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