Cybercriminals now target mobile banking in the Philippines and Southeast Asia to steal money as the continuing pandemic forces people to pay online.
Mobile banking Trojan attacks in the region surged 60 percent in the 2nd quarter of 2021 versus the same period last year, according to global cybersecurity firm Kaspersky’s latest mobile threat report.
Cybercriminals use mobile banking Trojans to siphon funds directly from the mobile bank accounts of their victims.
These malicious programs look like legitimate financial apps. But when a victim enters their security credentials to access their bank account, cybercriminals gain access to their private information.
In the Philippines alone, Kaspersky detected and blocked 37 mobile banking Trojan attacks among its users in the first half of the year.
This was 6% higher compared to the full year of 2020 with 35 attempts.
Overall, since the beginning of 2021, Kaspersky foiled 708 incidents across six countries in SEA.
This already accounts for half the number of attacks blocked in 2020 which totaled 1,408.
Indonesia and Vietnam logged the most number of incidents during the first half of the year.
However, Vietnam is only 27th and Indonesia is 31st in the global list of countries affected by the threat.
The five countries with the most number of mobile banking Trojan attacks are Russia, Japan, Turkey, Germany, and France.
While the number of mobile banking Trojan attacks in SEA remains low, 367 incidents from April to June 2021 versus 230 detections during the same period last year, the continuing pandemic forces users to shift to mobile payment systems.
“We are almost at the second year of the pandemic which has fast-tracked the mobile payment adoption in the region at a breakneck speed," accotding to Yeo Siang Tiong, Kaspersky General Manager for Southeast Asia.
"During the beginning of this health crisis, our survey already showed majority of internet users here have shifted finance-related activities online, like shopping (64%) and banking (47%),” he noted.
The same survey revealed that seven in 10 (69%) are worried about conducting financial transactions online.
Also, 42% of the respondents admitted being afraid about someone accessing their financial details through their devices.
Another Kaspersky report, “Making Sense of Our Place in the Digital Reputation Economy” showed majority (76%) of 861 respondents from SEA keep their money-related data away from the internet.
The sentiment was highest among Baby Boomers (85%), followed by Gen X (81%), and Millennials (75%).
“Clearly, there is an awareness about the threats present when we do banking and payment transactions through our mobile phones," Yeo observed. "But there is still a gap between knowing and acting on it."
To beef up one's money’s safety online, Kaspersky suggests several precautions, including getting a temporary credit card.
As another level of security for safe online shopping, one can use a temporary credit card to make online purchases, in lieu of their regular credit card.
Just remember to avoid using these types of credit cards for any purchases that require auto-renewal or regular payments.
If a temporary credit card is not possible, an alternative is to use a credit card with a low credit limit.
One can also dedicate a computer to online banking and shopping.
If one has more than one computer, it may be wise to dedicate one for online banking and shopping only.
By avoiding using the computer for any other Internet browsing, downloading, checking email, social networking, and other online activities, one effectively creates a ‘clean’ computer totally free of computer viruses and any other infections.
For added security for safe online shopping, install Google Chrome, with forced HTTPS. This ensures you are visiting only secure websites.
Furthermore, use a dedicated email address.
Create an email address to be used exclusively for online shopping to limit the amount of spam messages received and reduce the risk of opening potentially malicious emails disguised as sales promotions or other notifications.
Using strong passwords and using a different password for each online account is also vital for safe online shopping.
Use a password manager to aid in keeping strong passwords for multiple accounts.
If one must shop online using public Wi-Fi, first install a VPN (virtual private network).
A VPN will encrypt all data that is transferred between one's computer or mobile device and the VPN server, preventing hackers from hijacking and viewing sensitive data.