SecurityBrief Asia logo
Asia's leading source of cybersecurity and cyber-attack news
Story image

Flashpoint: APAC companies must factor geopolitics in cyber strategies

By Contributor
Fri 15 Mar 2019
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Article by Flashpoint Asia-Pacific intelligence team senior analyst Aaron Shraberg   

Geopolitical and economic tensions between the United States, China, and North Korea will steer risk management decisions in the Asia-Pacific region for the coming months. 

Organisations, such as some recently targeted financial services institutions in Australia and New Zealand, should closely monitor cyber and political activity in the area.

The diverse geopolitical and economic interests of the states in the region play a significant role in driving and shaping cyber threat activity against entities operating in APAC. 

While most threat actors targeting organisations in the region are financially motivated, nation-state activity remains a potent threat against government and diplomatic entities, as well as financial organisations as nations such as North Korea continue to fund operations through hacking.  

Political and economic events to watch

As 2019 progresses, the ongoing trade conflict between the US and China could spur an uptick in cyber activity against the US and its closest Five Eyes allies, further eroding the Xi-Obama agreement to cease China’s industrial espionage activity for economic gain.

Last year, a limited number of named advanced persistent threat (APT) outfits operating in the region were alleged to be behind high-profile compromises and thefts of data and/or funds from global financial institutions, attacks on various multinational firms via third-party providers, and campaigns against the cryptocurrency industry.

North Korea is likely to remain a stressor in the region. 

It is unlikely to unilaterally disarm its nuclear program, and will likely ramp up its cyber attacks against APAC, A/NZ, and Western financial institutions, as well as cryptocurrency exchanges in order to finance the regime and its activities. 

Organisations should also monitor unresolved disputes over ownership and militarisation of parts of the South China Sea, debates over the integrity of Huawei and ZTE devices in Western networks, and other events in the region that could impact businesses in A/NZ and APAC.

While some criminal organisations operating in A/NZ and APAC are believed to be behind Eastern European outfits in terms of experience and capabilities, APT activity from China and North Korea is considered highly advanced. 

Organisations in the region should be aware of campaigns linked to criminal or nation-states in the area, and some of the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) employed by these groups.  

Advanced TTPs coming out of APAC and A/NZ

Some TTPs include commonplace first-stage attacks such as phishing or spear-phishing emails and watering hole attacks. 

These groups also have at their disposal banking Trojans, malware that seeks out and steals credentials, and ransomware, among others. 

Many criminal groups are proficient in activity to facilitate carding and reshipment fraud, the theft and sale of personally identifiable information, as well as more technically involved operations, including the sale of compromised RDP hosts, developing proxy and anonymisation tools (to circumvent law enforcement and censorship efforts), and other tactics to carry out fraud.

Some attackers are also making use of publicly available exploits for common vulnerabilities in Apache Struts, Oracle products, Adobe Flash, Microsoft Office and others.  Most of these vulnerabilities have already been publicly disclosed and patches are available, meaning that threat actors are opportunistic in the region, capitalising on lax patching efforts, or under-resourced IT organisations to exploit these security flaws.

Already this year, financial institutions in Australia, Japan, and elsewhere have reported being targeted by a new spam campaign using the Hancitor dropper to infect machines with the Gozi information-stealing malware. 

Gozi, also known as Ursnif, packages up banking and other account credentials from an infected machine and exfiltrates them to an attacker-controlled server.  Variants of the banking malware have been active since 2014 and frequently target Microsoft Office vulnerabilities to gain a foothold on unpatched machines.

Malware-based attacks aren’t the only means of profit for threat actors in the region. 

Late last year, several Chinese-language deep and dark Web forums contained posts advertising the availability of fraudulent identification cards from Australia, New Zealand, several locations in Europe, as well as North America. 

The fraudulent documents would allow, in some regions, the ability to travel without additional visas, vote in elections, or open bank accounts, for example. 

Another post also advertised processing of identifications and passports from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, France and Germany, opening the door to citizenship in some of those locations, in addition to the previously mentioned capabilities.  

Assessment

Enterprises in Asia-Pacific, Australia, and New Zealand will have impending risk management decisions guided in some part by the fragile geopolitical and cyber climate in the region. 

As the US, China, and North Korea tug at each other’s shirttails in cyberspace and in the political arena, businesses will continue to be targeted by criminal and state-sponsored outfits operating in APAC and A/NZ. 

Any erosion of these diplomatic or economic relationships will trickle down to businesses in the area, and threat activity targeting countries and companies in APAC and A/NZ will be influenced accordingly.

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)
LogRhythm updates SIEM Platform with latest innovations
LogRhythm has announced the launch of version 7.9 of the LogRhythm SIEM Platform and updates to LogRhythm NDR and LogRhythm UEBA.
Story image
Ransomware
Examining the future of ransomware threats with Vectra’s CTO
As customers' valuable data move to the cloud, so will ransomware. What is the current landscape and what do we need to know?
Story image
Apple
Jamf introduces new content filtering solution for education providers
Jamf has announced the launch of Jamf Safe Internet, a new offering that looks to deliver a safe online experience to students while offering better management options for admins.
Story image
Cybersecurity
How organisations can mitigate IoT and IIoT security risks
IoT and IIoT come with inherent risks because they are often deployed faster than they can be secured, putting organisations in danger of cyber threats. Here are tips on how to mitigate those risks.
Story image
Research
New study reveals 51% of employees using unauthorised apps
The research shows that 92% of employees and managers in large enterprises want full control over applications, but they don't have it.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Vulnerable APIs costing businesses billions every year
Large companies are particularly vulnerable to the security risks associated with exposed or unprotected APIs as they accelerate digital transformation.  
Story image
Cybersecurity
Threat actors ramp up their social engineering attacks
As people get better at identifying potential threats in their inbox, threat actors must evolve their methods. Their new M.O? Social engineering.
Story image
Remote Working
RDP attacks on the rise, Kaspersky experts offer advice
"Given that remote work is here to stay, we urge companies to seriously look into securing their remote and hybrid workforce to protect their data."
Story image
Gartner
Gartner's top recommendations for security leaders
"Leaders now recognise that major disruption is only one crisis away. We can’t control it, but we can evolve our thinking, philosophy, program and architecture.”
Story image
Cloud Security
Palo Alto Networks bolsters cloud native security offerings
Latest Prisma Cloud platform updates help organisations continuously monitor and secure web applications with maximum flexibility.
Story image
Oracle Cloud
Commvault, Oracle to deliver Metallic Data Management as a Service
"We are excited to partner with Commvault and enable our customers to restore and recover their most mission-critical cloud data."
Story image
API
Industry-first comprehensive risk-based API security enhances protection
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) have become a crucial part of operating web and mobile application businesses and are causing significant economic growth in the digital sector.
Story image
Solutions
Progress launches latest version of network visibility solution
In Flowmon 12 network solution, Progress has expanded its support for public cloud provider flow log monitoring and launched new features.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Security driving customer identity & access management adoption
"CIAM allows businesses to embed a secure identity layer into their consumer and SaaS applications, facilitating secure, seamless end user experiences."
Story image
WatchGuard Technologies
Ransomware volume doubled 2021 total by end of Q1 2022
Ransomware detections in the first quarter of this year doubled the total volume reported for 2021, according to a new report. 
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Abnormal Security finds financial supply chain under threat
New research by Abnormal Security has found a rising trend in financial supply chain compromise as threat actors increasingly impersonate vendors.
Story image
HP Inc
Firmware attacks significant threat in age of hybrid work
Changing workforce dynamics are creating new challenges for IT teams around firmware security, according to new research.
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - ActiveCampaign, Arcserve, LogRhythm & Qlik
We round up all job appointments from June 17-22, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
SonicWall
Find out how you and your business can prevent being caught out by everything from ransomware to cryptojacking.
Link image
Story image
Cyber Criminal
Identity and access: the fight is on
Blue team defenders are used to protecting our data, applications, and users with access controls and other security mechanisms, which is why attacks like this are especially challenging when they target identity and access control systems.
Story image
Cybersecurity
FIDO Alliance releases guidelines for optimising UX with FIDO Security Keys
The new guidelines aim to accelerate multi-factor authentication deployment and adoption with FIDO security keys.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Email threats spike 101%, remains a top attack vector
"Each year we see innovation in the threat landscape, but each year email remains a major threat to organisations."
Story image
Secure access service edge / SASE
Cloudflare adds new capabilities to zero trust SASE platform
New features for Cloudflare One include email security protection, data loss prevention tools, cloud access security broker, and private network discovery.
Story image
Vendor
Forescout reveals top vulnerabilities impacting OT vendors
Forescout’s Vedere Labs has disclosed OT: ICEFALL, naming 56 vulnerabilities affecting devices from 10 operational technology vendors.
Story image
Infosys
Preparing for the digital decade with the right workforce strategies
For a decade that started under the pall of the pandemic, the 2020s is poised to end with a bang with the digital economy swelling to a high across the world.
Story image
Compliance
SentinelOne integrates with Torq to empower security teams
"With Torq, security teams can extend the power of SentinelOne to systems across the organisation to benefit from a proactive security posture.”
Story image
Trend Micro
5G network projects driven by improving security and privacy
Trend Micro's new study reveals the prospect of improved security and privacy capabilities are the main motivations behind private 5G wireless network projects.
Story image
Malware
Colt launches new SASE Gateway solution with Versa
Colt Technology Services’ customers now have access to an integrated full SASE solution that brings together SD WAN and SSE features.
Story image
Motorola Solutions
Motorola Solutions deploys communication system to 5th Japanese airport
Motorola Solutions with its partner, Nippon Airport Radio Services deployed the mission critical communication system to Kansai.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Without trust, your security team is dead in the water
The rise of cyberattacks has increased the need for sound security that works across any type of business, but with any change, buy-in is essential. Airwallex explains why.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Aqua Security, CIS create software supply chain security guide
Aqua Securityand the Center for Internet Security have together released the industry’s first formal guidelines for software supply chain security.
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - Bitdefender, Cohesity, Fortinet & MODIFI
We round up all job appointments from June 27-30, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Internet of Things
ManageEngine wins big in IDC MarketScape assessment
ManageEngine's Endpoint Central service has been recognised as a leader by IDC MarketScape in several categories including Internet of Things device deployments and UEM software for SMEs.
Story image
Compliance
Stock security features inadequate in face of rising risk
"Organisations must proactively find ways of identifying unseen vulnerabilities and should take a diligent, holistic approach to cybersecurity."
Story image
Cybersecurity
Tech and data’s role in the changing face of compliance
Accenture's study found that 93% of respondents agree or strongly agree new technologies such as AI and cloud make compliance easier.
Story image
Ransomware
Secureworks reveals new information on BRONZE STARLIGHT threat group
New research from Secureworks has uncovered new information on the Chinese threat group BRONZE STARLIGHT and how they are using targeted ransomware to initiate complicated attacks.
Story image
Internet of Things
Domino's Pizza: A blueprint for secure enterprise IoT deployment
Increasingly, organisations are embracing smart technologies to underpin innovations that can enhance safety and productivity in every part of our lives, from industrial systems, utilities, and building management to various forms of business enablement.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Eight top DevSecOps trends to support IT innovation in 2022
The use of DevSecOps practices is growing, as it is increasingly seen as the best way to produce high-quality and secure code. So what are the current trends?
Story image
Network Security
Netskope announces zero trust network access updates
Customers can now apply zero trust principles across a range of hybrid work security needs, including SaaS, IaaS, private applications, and endpoint devices.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Vectra AI named as AWS security competency partner
Threat detection and response company Vectra AI has announced that it has become an Amazon Web Services Security Competency Partner.
Story image
Digital Transformation
What CISOs think about cyber security, visibility and cloud
Seeking to uncover the minds of CISOs and CIOs across Asia Pacific, my company recently asked Frost & Sullivan to take a snapshot of cloud adoption behaviour in the region.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Juniper study reveals top AI trends in APAC region
Juniper's research shows an increase in enterprise artificial intelligence adoption over the last 12 months is yielding tangible benefits to organisations.
Story image
Identity and Access Management
Ping Identity launches corporate venture capital fund
Ping Identity has launched a corporate venture capital fund to foster innovative offerings for the identity security market.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Significant security concerns resulting from open source software ubiquity
"The risk is real, and the industry must work closely together in order to move away from poor open source or software supply chain security practices."