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4 Security Trends Asia-Pacific Executives Should Fixate On

Our just-released  Trustwave Global Security Report reveals significant developments for the Asia-Pacific region. After North America, we see APAC experiencing more security incidents than Europe/Middle East and Latin America. In the report, Trustwave SpiderLabs researchers share a wealth of data and analysis about how cybercriminals operate, and there are important takeaways in understanding malware, exploit kit and other trends affecting databases, networks and applications.

Many CISOs have adopted Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) guidelines, and sophisticated chip-and-PIN technologies in several APAC countries have reduced risks for those processing credit card transactions. There are, however, additional alarming developments we can see for cybersecurity in the region. The recent spread of WannaCry ransomware, the growing occurrence of CEO wire fraud and bargain malvertising are all common threads in my conversations with security leaders. Cybercrime as a commodity.

Download the 2017 Trustwave Global Report to see the full findings.

I see four significant trends highlighted in this year's report that APAC CISOs should address in their security projects for 2017:

1) Attacks on corporate and internal networks

Remote access has grown by twice as a major factor contributing to compromise (currently 30 percent, up from 12 percent in 2015). Cybercriminals are getting serious on making their efforts worthwhile. Attacks on the internal network can yield far more than just customer data. Corporate IP, personally identifiable information (PII), health data and business plans are all on offer to the cybercriminal who may want to hold it for ransom. Governments in Australia, Singapore and the Philippines now enforce, or are in the process of introducing, mandatory data breach disclosure and penalties. Penetration testing is essential in ensuring your network is secure. And we found containment of a data breach is 60 percent quicker when a breach is self-detected. This is where training your staff to respond, using red-team exercises, pays off.

2) Phishing and social engineering

As a factor for attacks, phishing and social engineering has grown from 8 percent to 18 percent, year over year. Sixty percent of all inbound email is spam, up from 54 percent in 2015, and 35 percent of that spam contains malware, up from 3 percent in 2015. And malware is getting smarter. Our research shows that today's advanced malware does not reside on disk - it lives only in memory, and sometimes in multiple instances. Obfuscation is the new modus operandi. The Trustwave SpiderLabs incident response team assists customers in memory acquisition, analysis and reporting so our experts can reverse engineer the malware used an attack and contain and remediate the infiltration vector. This is a job for experts, and it takes advanced detection capabilities for the victim to discover the breach. This white paper on phishing and ransomware best practices is a great resource for organizations of all sizes.

3) Databases

The open-source MySQL was the most heavily patched database with 106 fixes last year. Databases are where the company's most valuable assets reside. The increase in privilege-escalation vulnerabilities being patched is a concern. This can allow hackers access to data or to commit other actions, even if the data is encrypted. The recent 2017 Security Pressures Report from Trustwave shows access and privilege modification or escalation is a big area of concern, particularly in Japan. Organizations should track the spread of databases using tools to find 'hidden' databases and regularly perform rights review management to uncover access control and segregation of duties issues.

4) Threat hunting

This practice, helps improve your security posture, must be unique for your organization. Knowing 'how' your company operates, 'where' the data resides, 'who' should be using it and 'when' they should be using it are necessary - in addition to vendor threat feeds - to understand where your vulnerabilities are and how to address them. Threat hunting is about understanding your organization's environment and base-lining continuously, knowing what stands out from the norm and correlating a series of events are signs. For many organisations, they may not know if they've been infiltrated.

The cyber landscape in Asia-Pacific, including Japan, is diverse. The theme of this year's report is 'assume breach." Data compromise is inevitable. It's how to detect and respond that matters. Clients are looking to managed security services to help their IT teams move beyond the "find and fix" treadmill. By offloading the bulk of event monitoring, threat correlation and compliance to an MSSP, IT teams can focus on their offensive plan and pre-empt attacks.

Robert Pizzari is senior vice president of sales for APAC at Trustwave.