The Philippines was the most hit by phishing attacks last year in Southeast Asia, according to cybersecurity firm Kaspersky, although to a lesser degree than in 2020.
In a statement, Kaspersky said the number of Filipinos exposed to phishing attempts reached 9.9 percent last year, beating Malaysia (8.49 percent), Thailand (7.93 percent), Indonesia (7.70 percent), Vietnam (7.45 percent) and Singapore (3.30 percent).
The 2021 level, however, was a marked decline from 16.05 percent a year earlier, but this not a reason to let the Philippines’ guard down.
“The lesser number of phishing attacks does not necessarily mean our data and online finances are safer. Decrease in number of attacks was observed last year across different threats such as mobile malware and phishing,” explained Yeo Siang Tiong, general manager for Southeast Asia at Kaspersky.
Phishing is a fraudulent activity where scammers trick users into giving out their personal and sensitive information prompted by suspicious emails, mobile messages and links. Having access to such data will allow scammers to take over or use without permission victims’ bank accounts.
He said that cybercriminals had been veering away from the “spray and pray” method, which refers to sending phishing attacks to as many victims as possible in the hope of baiting them.
“Our data shows that they are now opting for a more targeted approach, aligning their attack with the current local trends and holidays, and even making personalized phishing email or fake websites, and delivering them to their targets,” Yeo said.
Last year, the Russian anti-virus provider said it detected over 40 million phishing attacks worldwide, mostly in e-commerce and banking institutions.
The popularity of digital payment platforms amid the e-commerce boom has become a playground for scammers, it noted.
“Since the pandemic, online shopping and e-payments have been embraced by Filipinos. So, we urge Filipinos to be on guard especially towards sales announcements delivered through emails, text messages, social media posts, or even calls,” the Kaspersky official said.
Kaspersky said cybercriminals were luring potential victims by sending “fake” and “too-good-to-be-true” promotional materials or sale offers from retailers via email or social networking sites.
According to its recent study, eight out of 10 Filipinos claimed to have awareness about digital payment scams, which the firm deemed as a welcome development amid the proliferation of cyberattacks.
Still, Kaspersky outlined some guidelines to protect the consumers from online scams, including good management of account passwords, purchasing from familiar retailers and checking of credit card statements for unusual transactions. The firm also advised having a separate email address for online banking and shopping to limit the spam messages.
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