How can Hong Kong secure its digital ecosystem? Source: Shutterstock

How can Hong Kong secure its digital ecosystem? Source: Shutterstock

Hong Kong fought 9,000 cyberattacks and lost $256.3m this year

HONG KONG is a thriving economy, which naturally makes it one of the top targets in the region when it comes to cybercrime.

According to latest reports, in the first nine months of this year, Hong Kong’s residents and companies sustained more than 9,000 cyberattacks and lost HK$2 billion (US$256.3 million) to hackers and cyber criminals.

Compared to last year, that’s a 55 percent jump in the number of attacks — and compared to 2012 figures, the first nine months of this year jumped 565 percent.

However, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported that the numbers are actually much higher than reported.

It found that computers and mobile devices in the country sustained about one million cyberattacks on one digital security network alone over a period of three months from April to June this year.

Two of the biggest cybersecurity lapses report in Hong Kong this year — the one at Cathay Pacific and the other at Hong Kong Broadband Network — are therefore not isolated incidents.

There’s no doubt that cybercrime in Hong Kong is rising quickly. Both individuals and businesses are increasingly finding themselves more vulnerable to attacks — on their data and their finances.

Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC)’s General Manager of IT Wilson Wong Ka-wai told the SCMP that he believes its time for businesses to put more effort into protecting their systems and public websites.

Since there is no regulation in Hong Kong expressly stating that companies need to disclose breaches, reporting on cyberattacks is only voluntary at the moment.

As a result, most experts believe that the numbers are still grossly underreported.

Although large enterprise such as Cathay Pacific are at risk (increasingly), it is the small and medium enterprise that needs to be more cautious about cybersecurity as they’re usually ill-equipped to handle an attack and tend to be more susceptible to thefts and phishing attacks.

Just last year, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) issued about 54 warnings for phishing emails and reported on 56 cases of fraudulent bank websites set up as copycats to steal login credentials.

That number grew from the seven warnings about phishing emails for the whole of 2017 and 34 cases of fraudulent bank websites.

These simple tricks are usually enough to get SMEs to let their guard down and give away important information that can be used to break into their accounts and steal data and money.

In the coming months, Hong Kong needs to find more ways to simplify cybersecurity for SMEs and ensure there’s plenty of qualified talent in the market for larger enterprises — in order to protect and secure the country’s digital ecosystem and economy.