Singapore a hot spot for business e-mail scams and malicious Web addresses: Trend Micro

The report says Singapore has emerged as a "hotbed" for hosting malicious URLs, and firms need to strengthen their cyber defences at every touchpoint.
The report says Singapore has emerged as a "hotbed" for hosting malicious URLs, and firms need to strengthen their cyber defences at every touchpoint.ST FILE PHOTO

Online fraudsters find Singapore to be the easiest place in the region to set up shop, according to a cyber-security firm.

It noted that the country is a hot spot for business e-mail compromise scams and for hosting malicious Web addresses.

About 27.3 per cent of such e-mail compromise frauds that Trend Micro detected in South-east Asia took place in Singapore. It was followed by Malaysia with 26.1 per cent and Indonesia on 25 per cent.

In a typical attack, scammers initiate or intercept communication with someone in a company who has the ability to release funds or conduct wire transfer payments.

In most cases, that would be the chief executive or someone with similar powers, the Trend Micro report said. As these attacks usually rely on social engineering tactics, the fraudulent e-mails typically contain no malware and go undetected by traditional security measures.

Singapore emerged as a "hotbed" for hosting malicious URLs among South-east Asian countries, accounting for 68.1 per cent of such attacks. But as a target, it accounted for only 19.8 per cent of detected malware attacks - the second-highest in the region. Malaysia led the way with 29.3 per cent of attacks.

Singapore ranked third in South-east Asia for getting the most e-mail threats, including spam, accounting for 10.9 per cent of incidents detected. Vietnam was first in the region with 46.2 per cent, followed by Indonesia on 21.3 per cent.

  • 27.3% Percentage of e-mail compromise frauds detected by Trend Micro that took place in Singapore.

    26.1% Percentage of those frauds that took place in Malaysia.

    25% Percentage of those frauds that took place in Indonesia.

Mr Nilesh Jain, Trend Micro's vice-president of South-east Asia and India, said attackers have become more targeted, eschewing the "spray and pray" style.

"Enterprises need to strengthen their cyber defences at every touchpoint, namely, on the endpoint, in the cloud and at the network layer," he added.

Trend Micro, which examined Singapore, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Timor Leste and Vietnam for its report, noted that the number of e-mail-related business scams increased by 28 per cent globally last year.

They tend to be more sophisticated and less frequent than phishing attacks and yield about $177,000 in each incident.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 12, 2019, with the headline 'S'pore a hot spot for business e-mail scams and malicious Web addresses: Trend Micro'. Print Edition | Subscribe