cyber pandemic

(Photo by Roslan Rahman / AFP)

Cyber pandemic drags on in Singapore with another healthcare data breach

Just as Covid-19 cases are seeing a surge in Singapore, the cyber pandemic seems to be making a comeback as well. In the past several weeks alone, there were reports of several high-profile cyberattacks targeting various industries in the island state.

Some of the recent cyberattacks in Singapore include a data breach at an employment agency and a massive ransomware attack on a specialist medical clinic, the Eye & Retina Surgeons.

According to the Cybersecurity Agency of Singapore, ransomware incidents, online scams, and Covid-19-related phishing activities dominated the cyber landscape of 2020. The agency also feels the cyber pandemic will persist to affect organizations in 2021, as cybercriminals continue to find ways both new and old to wreak havoc on organizations.

Several security vendors have warned that organizations in the region particularly in Singapore are at imminent threat of cyberattacks, especially with many organizations still not implementing enough cyber security protection, as well as not updating their solutions as much as they should.  Cisco’s Cybersecurity for SMBs: Asia Pacific Businesses Prepare for Digital Defense study showed that two in five Singaporean SMEs have suffered a cyber incident in the past year, with more than half (56%) of these incidents seeing customers lose information to the hands of malicious actors.

And just as predicted, the Singapore healthcare industry has suffered another breach. This time, personal details of Fullerton Health customers, a leading integrated healthcare platform provider, was stolen by hackers and hawked online — after a vendor of the private healthcare group suffered a breach earlier this month.

The Straits Times reported that the data was put up for sale on hacking forums from Oct 11 and could be bought for US$600 in Bitcoin. Hackers have since removed the data sale set, indicating someone may have bought it, or to avoid the authorities. The hackers claimed they managed to steal the data of some 400,000 people, including the insurance policy details of many Singaporeans.

Singapore media also reported that the data uploaded included customer names, identity card numbers, information about bank accounts, employers, and medical history as well as the personal details of the customers’ children.

Reports show that the breach was of a server used by Agape Connecting People, a social enterprise that provides contact center services. Agape was engaged as a vendor to handle bookings by Fullerton Health customers. The medical service provider discovered the breach shortly before informing Agape on Oct 19.

Kamal Brar, Vice President and General Manager, Asia Pacific and Japan at Rubrik shared his views on the data breach with Tech Wire Asia. For him, any organization that falls victim to a cyberattack, is just a victim.

“The truth is, there is no silver bullet to stop 100% of all cyberattacks. Some of the world’s largest businesses and government agencies have also been compromised and they would have had all the latest anti-malware and perimeter security solutions. The challenge is that the fight against cyber attackers is asymmetric. An organization needs to stop all attacks to be successful, while a hacker only needs one malicious email to be clicked to completely compromise an organization,” said Kamal.

With this in mind, Kamal believes organizations need to look beyond their perimeter defenses and consider how quickly they can remediate and their business back up and running following an attack.

“The Singapore Computer Emergency Response Team explains that businesses need to maintain backup copies of their database and files regularly. They further advise that businesses regularly monitor and review administrator-level accounts and privileges for access and activities,” added Kamal.

As such, with the cyber pandemic still a pervasive concern in Singapore and the ASEAN region as well, enterprises need to ensure they have sufficient backup and recovery solutions in place, to ensure their services and operations are not disrupted for any meaningful length of time.