A recent report in Việt Nam Talk shows that the number of malware attacks in the first half of 2016 had quadrupled over the previous year. According to a report from VNCERT -Việt Nam Computer Emergency Response Center – there were 31,585 incidents recorded in 2015, which included malware, defacing and phishing attacks.

A quadrupling of that figure extrapolated to the full year 2016 would mean in excess of 120,000 attacks – and that’s just the ones recorded in Việt Nam. The more aggressive of these targeted government and critical infrastructure systems. Incidentally, these Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) were behind the cybersecurity attack on Việt Nam Airlines, and display screens at two airports earlier this year. The actors in these attacks were believed to be Chinese hackers.

Cybersecurity – A Global Problem

But the problem is certainly not restricted to Việt Nam. IBM Security published some alarming facts about cybersecurity threats in the United States.

cybersecurity threats data IBM Security

That’s not even the worst of it. A Hewlett Packard Enterprise publication called Cyber Risk Report 2016 makes some very bold statements, reproduced here for your convenience:

The (software) industry learned nothing about patching in 2015 – The most exploited bug from 2014 happened to be the most exploited bug in 2015 as well – and it’s now over five years old.”

Attackers have shifted their efforts to directly attack applications – The perimeter to your network is no longer where you think it is. With today’s mobile devices and broad interconnectivity, the actual perimeter to your network is likely right in your pocket. Attackers realize this as well and have shifted their focus from servers and operating systems directly to applications.”

The monetization of malware is the new focus of attackers – In today’s environment, malware needs to produce revenue, not just be disruptive. This has led to an increase in ATM-related malware, banking Trojans, and ransomware.”

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The full report can be downloaded HERE.

So there are several take-aways for the evolving threat landscape for 2016.

First, threat actors are now targeting individual devices and applications. This also includes the mass of connected devices on Internet of Things networks, as well as personal mobile and other connected devices.

Second, monetization of vulnerabilities seems to be the flavor of the year 2016, and there are clearly several options open to hackers to monetize the bugs they find.

Third, there is a dearth of security professionals on the “good guy” side of cybersecurity. And this will only worsen over time unless proactive steps are taken by the governments, enterprise corporations and educational institutions of countries worst affected by cybersecurity threats.

Fourth – and this is possibly the most alarming finding of all – is that the software industry doesn’t seem to have acquired the skills necessary to fight the new and evolved threat landscape in 2016 and beyond.

The Individual’s Role in Cybersecurity

Faced with such a dismal cybersecurity scenario, consumer awareness as much as anything else will go a long way in fending off the threats and risks that come our way every day.

It is mostly up to security professionals to deal with the problem, but as much as it is the responsibility of the government, the cybersecurity fraternity and other qualified institutions, the onus is on us – individual users – to help things along.

Good password practices, learning how to deal with cyber attacks, knowing who to report to and a general awareness around the risks we put ourselves at on a daily basis are just some of the foundational elements of a more secure online experience. There are any number of resources to help you with this – with Google, Bing and other search tools at your service to help you find them – so there’s absolutely no reason to say “it’s not my problem.” It is your problem, or very likely to be in the future if you don’t learn how to do your part now.

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