Tag Archives: Rise in Cyberattacks in wake of Covid-19

Acronis announced Acronis True Image 2021

Acronis, a global leader in cyber protection, recently announced Acronis True Image 2021 on 20th August 2020. This new release version is an integration of advanced cybersecurity capabilities with unmatched personal backup to create the first complete personal cyber protection solution for home users, prosumers, and small businesses around the world.

The global pandemic Covid-19 has not only caused massive impacts to the world economy, it has also made the world and businesses change how they work, connect and communicate, with working from home (WFH) being the normal and our future of work would be a hybrid work environment. However, this global pandemic has also taught us (both business and employees) that we were not well prepared on remote work or WFH. Securing home machines has never been more important, yet a recent Acronis survey found nearly half (47%) of remote workers never received clear guidance on working from home.

“As more people work or attend classes from home, the FBI documents a 400% increase in cyberattacks because hackers know home systems are not usually as well-defended as an office,” said Serguei “SB” Beloussov, founder and CEO of Acronis. “Backup without cybersecurity is an incomplete option in that situation, as is cybersecurity without backup. Acronis True Image 2021 delivers the easy, efficient, and secure cyber protection needed today.”

Fast changing times in Technology – Standalone backup and cybersecurity are obsolete

With the number of everyday technology gadgets we have today, from smartphones, tablets to laptops and desktop computers, and the amount of interaction, communication and transfer of information and data across personal and work environments, the amount of big data is very valuable. No matter whether you are a business organisation or an individual person, you can be a target for cybercriminals for attack and hacking for your data. Cybercriminals are constantly evolving their attacks to reach that data, which is why security research firms such as AV-Test report more than 350,000 new malware threats every day.

A rise and adoption of cloud storage solutions in recent years providing us additional storage space and solutions, storing our backup files and backup software, they are now the target of cybercriminals, not just for hacking and stealing our data, they are often the targets of these new attacks to prevent recovery, backup alone no longer provides suitable protection for users. Similarly, conventional cybersecurity solutions do not provide the data protection and recovery capabilities users need.

Relying on multiple products that were not designed to work together creates security gaps, is more complex to manage, and is more costly. With a single, integrated solution, Acronis True Image 2021 users can proactively stop any malware attack and then quickly restore affected files. The single, intuitive interface reduces the complexity of managing their security and backups.

Integration delivers superior cyber protection

For the last few years, Acronis True Image has been the only personal backup solution with a built-in antiransomware that stops attacks in real-time, while automatically restoring any affected files.

With the launch of Acronis True Image 2021, those capabilities are expanded with the addition of the company’s advanced antimalware technology, which is currently deployed in Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud. This next-gen, full-stack antimalware has been shown by independent security labs such as Virus Bulletin and AV-Test to return a 100% detection rate with zero false-positives.

As a result, home users gain advanced capabilities with Acronis True Image 2021, including:

  • Real-time protection, driven by AI-enhanced behavioral heuristics, which stops all malware – including zero-day attacks by never-before-seen threats
  • On-demand antivirus scans of the full system or quick scans of at-risk files, either of which can be scheduled in advance or run instantly
  • Web filtering that automatically blocks Windows users from accessing malicious websites that harbor malware, disinformation, scams, and phishing attacks
  • Videoconference protection prevent hackers and malware injection attacks from exploiting popular apps like Zoom, Cisco Webex, and Microsoft Teams
  • Comprehensive detection, with both behavioral analysis and signature-based analysis engines

These advanced antimalware capabilities are included with Advanced and Premium licenses, and offered as a three-month trial with Standard and Essential licenses.

Acronis True Image 2021 gives individuals and small businesses access to the same protection technologies relied on by global companies and top teams in the world’s most high-pressure professional sports.

“Cyber protection is a top priority for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing,” explains Bobby Rahal, co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. “When our races were on pause, Acronis continued to provide protection for our team working remotely. Now, with Acronis True Image, everyone can safeguard their personal data against the worst-case scenario.”

Future of Work, Hybrid Working Environment and Cyber Protection

The importance of (personal and business) cybersecurity and cyber protection are getting more significant, crucial and important as the society is advancing towards a more technological, digitally and gadgets connected world today and in the very near future. With the acceleration of Covid-19 pandemic impacts and changes to how we work and live, a new future of work is upon us, a hybrid working environment, working from home, in an office and/or even remote working might/would be the new future workplace in the very near future.

Therefore, having the Acronis True Image 2021, a holistic cyber protection and cybersecurity solution, would be the ideal solution, companion and protection for you, for your new hybrid future of work environment, giving you an ease of mind in a fast moving and evolving technologically connected world today.

Pricing and availability

Four versions of Acronis True Image are available: Standard, Essential, Advanced and Premium. One-computer licenses starting at SG$82 for Standard and SG$68 for Essential. Special launch prices for Advanced and Premium licenses (starting at SG$96 and SG$137, respectively) are available until November 2020, at which time the full MSRP will be in effect (starting at SG$123 and SG$171, respectively).

* Information and pictures courtesy of Acronis *

Data Security Concerns with Rise of Online Banking by Singaporeans

The global pandemic Covid-19 has not only caused massive impacts to our world economy and daily living, it has also started to change our workflow and format, as we change and adapt with this crisis and situation, adopt working from home (WFH) as a new normal. While the future new normal working has yet to be fully defined, we are definitely moving towards a new normal, online banking is one of the accelerated shift towards this segment. However, there are are data security concerns with rise of online banking by Singaporeans.

SingSaver conducted a survey in June, analysing 1,000 responses detailing the changing financial habits of Singaporeans during this global pandemic. They found a majority (72%) of respondents agree or strongly agree that they are concerned about online data security due to increased online banking.

In lieu of this data security concern by Singaporeans with rise of online banking, SingSaver has partnered with Allianz Insurance Singapore to provide free Online Banking Protection Insurance for three months for all new and existing SingSaver account holders, offering protection from fraudulent cyber activity that results in financial loss.

The free three month insurance covers incidences such as:

  • Unauthorised access to or use of credit card, debit card or bank account issued by a financial institution in Singapore in electronic device(s)
  • Transmission or introduction of computer virus or harmful code into electronic device(s)
  • Alteration, corruption, damage, manipulation, misappropriation, theft, deletion or destruction of one’s electronic device(s); or
  • Inhibition or restriction of access targeted at or directed against one’s electronic device(s)

The plan reimburses consumers up to SGD1,000 per event or SGD2,000 per insured individual for such cyber attack incidents.

“While we’ve done a great job providing consumers with resources and tools to make more informed financial decisions, in today’s volatile financial landscape, we want to address the growing need for cyber protection. Besides educating consumers on preventive measures, it is also important to acknowledge the consequences of such attacks and how we can mitigate it through protection,” said Prashant Aggarwal, Chief Commercial Officer, CompareAsiaGroup and Interim Country Manager, Singsaver.

Singaporeans, Permanent Residents and long-term pass holders aged 18 and older are eligible for the free Allianz Online Banking Protection Insurance, as long as they possess a NRIC or FIN and an activated SingSaver account when a claim is made.

For more information, please visit SingSaver website. If you like to know more about their free Online Banking Protection Insurance, please visit this page on SingSaver website. Do read their Terms and Conditions and Frequently Asked Questions on the page too.

* Information and picture courtesy of SingSaver and Mutant Communications *

Microsoft Security Endpoint Threat Report 2019

Microsoft recently released their Asia Pacific findings from the latest edition of its Security Endpoint Threat Report 2019, placing Singapore among the countries with the highest drive by download attack volume in the last year.

Through the diverse Microsoft data resources, analysing the findings from there, including eight trillion threat signals received and analysed by the company every day for a 12-month period from January to December 2019.

“As security defenses evolve and attackers rely on new techniques, Microsoft’s unique access to billions of threat signals every day enables us to gather data and insights to inform our response to cyberattacks,” said Mary Jo Schrade, Assistant General Counsel, Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit, Microsoft Asia.

“The Microsoft Security Endpoint Threat report aims to create a better understanding of the evolving threat landscape and help organizations improve their cybersecurity posture by mitigating the effects of increasingly sophisticated attacks.”

Singapore registered one of the lowest malware and ransomware encounters

From the report, Asia Pacific continues to experience a higher-than-average rate for malware and ransomware attacks. As for Singapore, it registered the fourth lowest malware and ransomware encounter rate in Asia Pacific.

“Typically, high malware encounters are a result of excessive usage of unlicensed and/or pirated software, and proliferation of sites that illegitimately offer free software or content, such as video streaming. Consumer education is important – users should regularly patch and update programs and devices, and be able to identify illegitimate software,” explained Richard Koh, Chief Technology Officer, Microsoft Singapore.

Cryptocurrency mining encounter rate in Singapore was 5 times lower than the regional and global average

Singapore’s cryptocurrency mining encounter rate stood at 0.01 percent in 2019, an 80 percent decrease from 2018 and 5 times lower than the regional and global average of 0.05 percent.

In a cryptocurrency attack, the victims’ computers are infected with cryptocurrency mining malware, allowing criminals to harness the computing powers of the victims’ computers to mine for cryptocurrency.

The cryptocurrency sector faces key challenges with cryptocurrency scams along with relaxed regulatory implementations, resulting in over the counter and fraudulent trading practices continuing to take place undetected.

“Improving user awareness is key in maintaining a low encounter rates and preventing consumers from falling for cryptocurrency scams. In Singapore particularly, strong government enforcement of cyber policies also helps ensure the efficacy of regulation on cryptocurrency trading and the integrity of cryptocurrency exchanges,” explained Koh.

Singapore recorded the highest drive-by download attack volume in Asia Pacific

On the topic of drive-by download, the drive-by download attack volume in Asia Pacific has converged with the rest of the world at 0.08, following a 27 percent decline from 2018.

While there is a general decline in drive-by download attacks across the region, the report showed that Singapore experienced the highest attack volume of 0.31 in 2019, an increase of 138.5 percent from 2018 (0.13). This was also 3.9 times higher than the 2019 global and regional average.

These attacks involve downloading malicious code onto an unsuspecting user’s computer when the person visits a website or fills in a form. The malicious code that is downloaded can then be used by an attacker to steal passwords or financial information.

“Cybercriminals capitalize on drive-by download technique to target the organizations and end-users with the objective to steal valuable financial information or intellectual property. This is a likely reason for regional business hubs recording the highest volume of these threats,” explained Koh. “We’d like to emphasize that the high encounter rate does not necessarily translate into a high infection rate as the level of cyber hygiene and usage of genuine software prevents the systems from getting compromised.”

Cybersecurity in the Covid-19 period

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about a new wave of changes to the digital workplace transformation with working from home (WFH) as part of the measures to combat this pandemic and bringing it under control. Moving forward, some businesses would be looking at changes to the business operations and working environments, WFH might just be a new norm in the very near future. However, WFH has its own challenges and cybersecurity is one of them.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak, data collected by Microsoft Intelligence Protection Team has shown that every country in the world has seen at least one Covid-19 themed attack. The volume of successful attacks in outbreak hit countries seems to be increasing, along with fear and desire for more information increases.

There are millions of targeted phishing messages seen globally each day, there are roughly 60,000 of them that include Covid-19 related malicious attachments for malicious URLs, impersonating established organisations such World Health Organization (WHO), Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Health, getting to recipients inboxes.

For businesses and individuals, cybersecurity during this Covid-19 gets heightened attention. Everyone has part to play, a crucial role when navigating the internet and cyberspace. Here are some steps that businesses and individuals can take:

Guidance for businesses:

  • Have strong tools to safeguard employees and infrastructure. This means looking into multi-layered defense systems and turning on multi-factor authentication (MFA) as employees work from home. Additionally, enable endpoint protection and protect against shadow IT and unsanctioned app usage with solutions like Microsoft Cloud App Security.
  • Ensure employee guidelines are communicated clearly to employees. This includes information on how to identify phishing attempts, distinguishing between official communications and suspicious messages that violate company policy, and where these can be reported internally
  • Choose a trusted application for audio/video calling and file sharing that ensures end-to-end encryption

Guidance for individuals:

  • Update all devices with the latest security updates and use an antivirus or anti-malware service. For Windows 10 devices, Microsoft Defender Antivirus is a free built-in service enabled through settings
  • Be alert to links and attachments, especially from unknown senders
  • Use multi-factor authentication (MFA) on all accounts. Now, most online services provide a way to use your mobile device or other methods to protect your accounts in this way
  • Get educated on how to recognize phishing attempts and report suspected encounters, including watching out for spelling and bad grammar, and suspicious links and attachments from people you do not know

As we heading into a new era of digital workplace transformation in the very near future, our level of cybersecurity knowledge and awareness has to be increased and widen. More changes to information technology, social media and future of work are taking place now and coming to us at a fast and furious pace.

Do share the importance of cybersecurity with your loved ones, family, relatives and friends.

For more information on the Security Endpoint Threat Report findings, please visit https://www.microsoft.com/securityinsights

* Information and pictures courtesy of Microsoft Singapore and Edelman *

Updates and Topics of Interest – Post Circuit Breaker 8th June 2020

Writing and producing content for my websites, namely, TGH Commercial Photography, TGH Photography and Travel Portal/Blog and TGH Technology and Business Portal/Blog, have always been a constant challenge and balancing game for years. Each website has its own unique content creation challenges to overcome, for this personal website of mine here, I would like to regularly break away from my usual technology news routine to share personal updates, reflections and upcoming plans. Here’s my updates and topics of interest – Post circuit breaker 8th June 2020.

Topics of Interest

Covid-19 and the search for a vaccine

The start of a new decade, the year 2020 is shaping up with the Covid-19 pandemic would make a significant landmark in the history of Earth and the years beyond that. How this might define this new decade, the upcoming changes to the world, we might usher in a new decade of many changes, personal hygiene, healthcare and living.

On the search for a vaccine, clinical trials are ongoing in different parts of the world. Let’s hope an institution can come up with a vaccine for Covid-19 soon. I am following my alma mater University of Queensland Covid-19 vaccine development and would share updates on my social media platforms when there are updates.

Future of WFH

Working from home (WFH) sounds like the new kid on the block can finally step up and say, “I am cool, this is the way to go for the future”. On one hand, WFH can work, it’s not just because it sounds cool, modern and savvy. However, WFH might not be suitable for all industries and businesses, add in home based learning (HBL) with WFH, this combination makes it even more tricky and challenging. How is WFH going to evolve in the months and years ahead and how it might impact or change the economy remains to be seen.

Technology and Digital Transformation

Technology has been developing and improving over the past decade, coming into our daily life and working life, leading to workplace digital transformation, would it help make WFH easier? In this crisis, how would they adapt and transform technology for the economy and for daily living? Changes are coming, giving a rise to more technology and digital transformation for both work and personal. In my personal opinion, this is a big area of interest to look out for, in the months and years ahead.

World economy

Some have compared this crisis to be potentially much bigger and worst than the Great Depression of the 1920s. A very frightening scenario for the world economy, that would definitely fuel the rich and poor divide even further, financial and economic hardships, further deepening and widening social issues. How would the capitalism model change in this new era?

Post Covid-19 life and how we work will not be the same as before. Be prepared for some tough years ahead as the world navigates through this crisis. How deep and big would this crisis goes?


Improvements to my websites

I am regularly tweaking, fine tuning and improving my three main websites, not to mention my other sites showcasing my photographs, 500px, Flickr, MakersPlace etc, take up a fair amount of time and energy as I am operating solo. Curation of my photographs for both leisure, commercial and portfolio of works would be updated soon.

Training, Skills Upgrading and Development

This Covid-19 pandemic, giving rise to a world economic crisis, bringing about changes (and more to come) to workplaces, jobs, working style etc. Some jobs will be lost, some jobs will change dramatically. This is the time to upgrade my skills, new learn skills, search for suitable training programmes to develop and improve myself, knowledge and skills even further.

No thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, I am looking at safety related training for running a business. I am planning to learn videography, filmmaking and drone flying, to add on to my photography business services.

Cautious spending

From a budgeting perspective in a current Covid-19 pandemic and an ongoing economic crisis, spending for some has come to a halt or we must be very cautious in our spending, whether it’s personal or for business. I am looking at some used photography and technology accessories to add on to my workflow.

In this new era, the phrase “change is the only constant” might be changed into, “Many changes are coming to you”. Be prepared for tough and grim time ahead, a few years maybe. This is also the year, not to forget and reset year 2020, the era where we need to reset and change, for a new hope, a new future, a new era.

May the 4th 2020

May the 4th 2020, for Star Wars fans, we all know the significance of this day, May the 4th Be With You. On another note, 4th May 2020 was an initial date that Singaporeans was looking forward to when the circuit breaker in Singapore started on 7th April 2020 as we were fighting the Covid-19 virus situation.

It was supposed to be the day whereby we would be looking forward to the circuit breaker being lifted, however, this initial dateline had been changed and now our extended circuit breaker date has changed to 1st June 2020.

During this past 4 weeks, how have you folks been coping and handling, working from home (WFH) and quarantine life? Some families have home based learning (HBL) to handle, daily life restrictions, loss of business/revenue, stress, pressure, worried about the future and economy. Each of us are facing things differently even though we are in the same situation against the Covid-19 situation. How are you coping emotionally till date?

This has not been an easy period for any of us. While I had started WFH earlier before the measures kicked in, the circuit breaker restrictions wasn’t easy for, this took a bit of time for me to adapt, suffered cabin fever in the first two weeks. Running my own small sole proprietor business, my photography business, the amount of additional stress, pressure and burden is not small at all. The economy is not going to have an immediate recovery when Covid-19 is under control and the vaccine is available. The economic recovery is going to take some time, maybe 2021 in my humble opinion.

Taking this downtime to strategise ahead, a new era of how we work and travel post Covid-19. From learning new skills and knowledge, diversifying and seeking additional business opportunities. The Covid-19 world pandemic is indeed a wake up call for Earth, how much would work and life change post Covid-19 remains to be seen. We can see changes taking place in our lives right now, becoming a norm and part of our working and personal life.

From creating more content on my websites, TGH Photography and Travel Portal/Blog and TGH Technology and Business Portal/Blog, learning new skills and knowledge (that I would share more in details down the road), writing and publishing my first photography zine, return of Chef TGH.

May the 4th (2020) Be With You, take care and be safe, in time to come, our life would slowly get back to normal soon when the extended circuit breaker is lifted.

A New Hope awaits all of us.   

SophosLabs Report – 30 Fleeceware Apps Targeting iPhones

Smartphones are now an integral part of our lives today, for both work and leisure. Apple iPhones make up a substantial number of users around the world and they faced cybersecurity threats to the Apple iPhones too. Sophos, a global leader in next-generation cybersecurity, recently published SophosLabs Report – 30 Fleeceware apps targeting iPhones. 

As a smartphone user, do you tend to search for apps and download them into your smartphone, whether it’s for fun, for your hobbies or interests? I reckon smartphone users would do this often.

In this SophosLabs report, Don’t Let Fleeceware Sneak into Your iPhone, showing how Apple device users are being targeted by applications that overcharge users through costly subscriptions or unscrupulous in-app purchases. Sophos calls this kind of app “fleeceware” and researchers have found more than 30 iOS fleeceware apps available on Apple’s official App Store. Between them they appear to have been installed around 3.6 million times, according to publicly available data.

What could the fleeceware apps be? 

The apps can be image editors, horoscope/fortune telling/palm reader, QR code/barcode scanner, and face filter apps, with some charging weekly subscriptions of $9.99 (or $520 a year).

Sophos first alerted mobile users to fleeceware in September 2019, when it found a number of such apps available for Android phones. In January 2020, the researchers published a further paper, Fleeceware Apps Persist on the Play Store, detailing the discovery of another 20 such applications, with nearly 600 million alleged installations between them, as reported by Google Play.

“The main purpose of the iOS fleeceware apps we found seems to be severely overcharging users,” said Jagadeesh Chandraiah, senior security researcher at SophosLabs and the report author. “As was the case with the Android apps discovered in 2019, the app developers take advantage of monetisation practices widely used by legitimate free apps, but take them one step further. For example, in the hands of the fleeceware app developers, short free trials followed by a monthly subscription soon add up to hundreds of dollars a year in charges, and in-app purchases turn out to be essential for good app functionality rather than optional enhancements or extras.

“Fleeceware apps are not officially malicious, but they are unethical, preying on consumer trust with devious techniques designed to make money. They appear to encourage unsuspecting users to install them through aggressive online advertising and what are likely to be fake five star reviews. Fortunately, there are some practical steps mobile users can take to better protect themselves against fleeceware. This includes knowing how to cancel an unwanted subscription and taking a close look at an app before installing it.”

Advice for mobile phone users

  • Only install apps from official and trusted app stores like the Apple App Store and Google Play – malicious or unscrupulous apps are regularly reported to them by security researchers and others
  • Despite that, always remain vigilant when installing apps, only install those you are familiar with, and carefully scrutinise those that are new or which you have heard about through in-app advertising
  • Know how to cancel subscriptions – just deleting the app from your phone is not enough. The best online directions are on Apple’s support page and Google’s Play Store support page
  • Have an effective security solution in place that will alert you to dubious applications before they can do any harm. For example, Sophos Intercept X for Mobile is available for free on the Apple App Store and Google Play

In the wake of Covid-19 outbreak situation around the world, the whole world is facing an unprecedented time currently, facing many battles upfront for the economy and society. The number of people Working from home (WFH) at this juncture and in the future could be big, we must let our cybersecurity guard down when using your smartphone or Apple iPhone.

We might be guilty of downloading too many apps and even paying for some of the apps into our smartphones or Apple iPhones. Do be careful of those fleeceware apps!

For more information, do visit SophosLabs Uncut article and don’t let fleeceware sneak into your iPhone.

* Information and pictures courtesy of Sophos and Lewis *

Rise in Cyberattacks in wake of Covid-19 – NTT Ltd Monthly Threat Report

Covid-19 virus outbreak has caused massive impacts to the world economy and daily living, there has been a significant rise in Cyberattacks in wake of Covid-19 – NTT Ltd (World-leading global technology services company) Monthly Threat Report that was recently released in April 2020. With an increase in people working from home (WFH) as well as home-based learning (HBL) for the school children, hackers can exploit Covid-19 related panic, along with vulnerabilities created by WFH and HBL.

For businesses and individuals as well, cybersecurity is getting more important and crucial over the years. The Covid-19 situation is opening up this cybersecurity and protection space more than ever, along with its increased cyber threats and attacks. The NTT Ltd Monthly Threat Report can be found here inside this NTT Ltd press room article.

There have been recent cyberattacks, some are information-stealing malware built into a fake World Health Organization (WHO) information app, phishing emails have offered in-demand items including face masks, hand sanitiser and Covid-19 tests. There have also been high-profile attacks launched against hospitals, WHO and a Covid-19 test centre.

In response to the rise in attacks launched by cyber criminals seeking to exploit panic caused by the pandemic, NTT Ltd. will provide qualifying hospitals battling the Coronavirus with cybersecurity Incident Response support at no cost, if an incident occurs.

Beginning on World Health Day, Tuesday 7 April, for 60 days hospitals across the UK and Ireland, Europe, North America, Australia and Singapore will be able to use its cybersecurity Incident Response services. Following an assessment, the service will include remote deployment of NTT’s Incident Response tools and then focus on containment and remediation of the attack.

Do check out some other articles by NTT Ltd on the Covid-19 situation and cybersecurity

When the Covid-19 situation is under control, WFH and HBL might be a part of our daily life in the near future, the economy, market, businesses and individuals would change, the way we work, telecommute, communicate and study. While how much this would change and impact how we work, telecommute and study in the near future, cybersecurity importance and significance has definitely risen.

Be safe, practice safe social distancing, remember to practice cybersecurity safety while you WFH or HBL.

* Information courtesy of NTT Ltd and Lewis *