APAC cyberattacks up 15% in 2023: Surge in ransomware attacks a key driver 

APAC cyberattacks up 15% in 2023: Surge in ransomware attacks a key driver 

One in 20 APAC organisations were hit by ransomware in 2023, with financial services as the fourth most targeted sector. 

FS-ISAC, the member-driven, not-for-profit organisation that advances cybersecurity and resilience in the global financial system, has announced the findings of its annual Global Intelligence Office report, Navigating Cyber 2024

FS-ISAC’s latest annual report on the cyberthreat landscape revealed that cyberattacks are on the rise in APAC, with ransomware leading the charge. In 2023, the financial sector emerged as the fourth most commonly targeted by ransomware in the region. Other findings from the report paint a concerning picture: a 15% year-on-year increase in cyberattacks across the region, more sophisticated tactics by threat actors, and a growing vulnerability in the financial services supply chain. Averaging 1,963 attacks per week, APAC organisations were hit hard in 2023, a pattern that is set to continue in 2024 in the region, mirroring global trends. 

The report details the increasing sophistication of adversarial tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) leveraged by threat actors, such as social engineering, SEO poisoning, malvertising and QR code phishing. It also focuses on the use of evolving technology by threat actors, as they look to leverage Generative AI for increased scale and automation of attacks and effectiveness of lures, as well as to poison, manipulate and exploit Generative AI tools themselves.  

“Each year, a new set of threats comes to light, requiring the financial services sector’s mitigation strategies to advance at an equal if not faster pace than threat actors’ tactics,” said Steven Silberstein, CEO of FS-ISAC. “As we look ahead to a critical year marked by emerging technology and heightened geopolitical tensions, the best way to maintain the integrity, security and trust of the sector is through global information sharing.” 

In addition to long-standing threat vectors, new threats are continuing to emerge that will have disruptive implications for the sector. These include: 

  • Increased geopolitical hacktivism: Threat actors are expected to launch misinformation campaigns and DDoS attacks against critical infrastructure, capitalising on on-going geopolitical conflicts and a ‘super election’ year, as five national elections take place across the globe. DDoS attacks are continuing to increase in size, scope and sophistication, with 35% of all DDoS attacks targeting the financial services sector in 2023. 
  • New extortion tactics in response to global regulations: Threat actors have noted the implementation of key legislation in 2023 and are monitoring pending global regulations in 2024 and 2025, adjusting their tactics accordingly. Cybercriminals may weaponise new disclosure requirements, pushing companies to fulfil extortion demands ahead of the required reporting deadline.  
  • Intensified focus on establishing cryptographic agility: Recent quantum computing and AI advancements are expected to challenge established cryptographic algorithms. In response, the financial services sector must have an increased focus on developing new encryption methods that can be rapidly adopted without altering the bottom-line system infrastructure. 
  • Improvement of supply chain’s cybersecurity posture: Zero-day vulnerabilities in the supply chain continue to leave the sector unprotected, as attacks on providers disrupt various systems across the sector, such as those of clearing, trading, payments and back-office service operations. In response, the sector should work closely with suppliers to establish communication channels for incident response and bolster suppliers’ greater cybersecurity posture. 
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