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HKPC Warns of Rising Trend of Cybercrime-as-a-Service

Release Date: 16 Jan 2017 2454 Views

With the growing trend of “cybercrime-as-a-service”, information security experts at the Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC) today (16 January 2017) urged enterprises and the public to strengthen their guard against a surge in attacks from ransomware, and incidents targeting web servers, mobile and Internet of Things (IoT) devices.



Security Review of Year 2016

The advice came as HKPC’s Hong Kong Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Centre (HKCERT) reported a 23% rise in security incidents in Hong Kong in 2016, totalling 6,058, as compared to 2015. Malware cases (1,139, or 19% of the total) powered the surge, with an increase of 247%; while Botnet (2,028 cases, 33%) and Phishing (1,957 cases, 32%) remained the principal sources of the reports.




Among all malware cases, ransomware contributed to 309 cases, which is a 506% increase from 2015, with home users being the major victims (92 cases), followed by incidents targeting education (26) and manufacturing (22) sectors.



Security Outlook for Year 2017

Analysing the upcoming security trend, Mr Wilson Wong, General Manager (IT Industry and Business Process) of HKPC, said: “Cybercrime capability is becoming a commodity for criminals. They are offering the technologies, infrastructures and payment management as a service to other criminals in return for more financial returns for themselves through sharing of the proceeds. This will pump up ransomware attacks in 2017, with more threats to destroy or publicize the forcibly encrypted data. Also, more websites and critical IoT devices such as critical control systems may be subject to other extortion-related attacks as more systems are interconnected.”


In addition, “CEO email scams”, in which fraudsters impersonate senior executives of companies to send emails to trick staff to transfer funds to them, is expected to worsen in 2017. Furthermore, more data leakages from mobile devices are anticipated through suspicious mobile applications, and insecure or fake Wi-Fi access points.



Advice of HKCERT

Offering advice to the community, Mr Wong said, “Enterprises should apply good IT security management practices, especially for those who carry out ‘Bring-Your-Own-Device’ or engage in IoT in their business operations. They should also conduct awareness training for staff on scam emails. It is always a good practice to verify suspicious requests for fund transfers. On the other hand, the public should use strong password and two-factor authentication, and take due care when using public Wi-Fi, opening emails and visiting websites.”


HKCERT will continue to offer early warning and preventive advice on information security threats and incident response, and organize training to enhance security awareness for enterprises and Internet users. It will also proactively liaise and collaborate with local and overseas cyber security organizations on information sharing and incident handling.



Mr Wilson Wong, General Manager (IT Industry Development) of HKPC (left), and Mr Leung Siu-Cheong, Senior Consultant of the Hong Kong Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Centre of HKPC, review the information security situation in Hong Kong of the previous year, and introduce the upcoming trends in 2017