Phishing is the primary cyberthreat in Malaysia.

Phishing is the primary cyber threat in Malaysia.

Malaysia faces cyberthreat surge: phishing dominates, ransomware doubles

  • Phishing is the primary cyberthreat in Malaysia, with 54% of organizations identifying it as their top cybersecurity concern, an IDC study finds.
  • Other threats include ransomware, unpatched vulnerabilities, identity theft, and IOT-based attacks.
  • Fortinet is urging the rapid adoption of AI and automation in security operations.

In Malaysia, the cybersecurity landscape is undergoing a significant shift as organizations grapple with a surge in cyberthreats. According to a new survey by IDC on the state of security operations (SecOps) in the Asia-Pacific region, phishing emerges as the predominant concern, with 54% of organizations ranking it as their top threat. The top five hazards in Malaysia include ransomware, unpatched vulnerabilities, identity theft, and attacks targeting the internet of things (IoT). 

Particularly alarming is the doubling of ransomware incidents across the country, with over 50% of organizations experiencing a two-fold increase in 2023 compared to the previous year. Discussing the data from the SecOps report, Fortinet (which commissioned the report) delved into the evolving threat landscape, highlighting key findings and shedding light on the escalating challenges Malaysian organizations face in cybersecurity.

The survey sheds light on the current state of SecOps by emphasizing the crucial roles played by AI and automation. “Phishing and malware are the primary attack vectors. Other significant vectors include SQL injection, insider threats, and IOT vulnerabilities,” the report reads.

The survey also reveals critical insights into cybersecurity challenges, emphasizing the impact of remote work on insider threats. For instance, 88% of respondents attribute the rise in insider threat incidents to the shift to remote work, citing factors such as insufficient training, lack of employee care, and inadequate communication. 

The report adds that only 38% of businesses allocate dedicated IT resources for security teams, intensifying the difficulties in reinforcing security measures. The impact of emerging technologies, including hybrid work, AI, and IT/OT system convergence, poses substantial challenges, with cloud technology adoption identified as a primary hurdle affecting organizational vulnerability to cyber threats.

At a briefing in Kuala Lumpur on November 13, 2023, Fortinet’s vice president of marketing & communications, Asia and ANZ, Rashish Pandey, claiimed that in the ever-evolving threat landscape, more organizations are grappling with a spectrum of cyberthreats targeting their digital assets. He therefore recommends (as, in fairness, you’d expect him to) Fortinet’s security operations solutions, underpinned by advanced AI, which addresses the pressing need for automation and provides a comprehensive strategy for incident detection and response. 

“These include a one-hour average time to detect and contain threats, an 11-minute investigation and remediation average, a 597% ROI, doubling of team productivity, and a substantial US$1.39 million reduction in expected breach costs,” Pandey promised.

The cybersecurity in Malaysia: alert fatigue, time constraints, and skill development struggles

Cybersecurity in Malaysia. Source: Bing Image Creator

Cybersecurity in Malaysia. Source: Bing Image Creator

Regarding threat containment and preparedness, 48% of organizations in Malaysia feel underequipped, emphasizing the urgent need to bolster cybersecurity capabilities. Alarmingly, 75% of organizations neglect regular risk assessments, hindering timely threat detection. The survey also reveals that over 50% of enterprises grapple with alert fatigue, facing an average of 221 incidents daily. 

“Two out of five enterprises grapple with over 500 incidents daily, leading to alert fatigue. The top two alerts faced are suspicious emails (phishing) and malware or virus detections, highlighting the imperative for targeted training on phishing awareness. Additionally, suspicious user behavior, account lockouts, and multiple failed login attempts contribute to alert fatigue,” the report reads.

Workload pressures are evident, with just one SecOps professional for every 230 employees, allowing approximately 10 minutes per alert within an 8-hour workday.

The persistent challenge of false positives, where 62% of alerts are noted as such, underscores the demand for automation. To navigate the dynamic cyberthreat landscape, skills development proves challenging for 98% of respondents, emphasizing the need for evolving skill sets, particularly in automation, multi-tasking, and critical thinking.

Fortinet Malaysia’s country manager, Dickson Woo, says that 70.7% of organizations prioritize faster threat detection through automation in the ever-evolving cybersecurity landscape. “At Fortinet, we recognize the imperative of swift detection and response as the cornerstone of an enhanced cybersecurity posture. Automation plays a crucial role in promptly identifying and responding to cyberthreats, minimizing the window of vulnerability,” he said.

Cybersecurity in Malaysia.

Data breaches, phishing campaigns and more mark Malaysia’s cybersecurity record.

He also explained that customers’ experiences underscore this urgency, with a transformative reduction from an average of 21 days to just one hour for detection, driven by AI and advanced analytics. “This signifies a fundamental step in fortifying cybersecurity defenses, where time to detect and respond is paramount. In this context, automation emerges as the linchpin in navigating the challenges of today’s dynamic threat landscape,” Woo concluded.

According to Fortinet, the upside is the adoption of automation and orchestration tools, which has reached a significant milestone, with 92% of organizations recognizing their value in fortifying cybersecurity strategies.

However, the survey unveils untapped potential and areas for improvement in fully harnessing these technologies. While productivity gains are evident, with 89% of respondents experiencing a substantial 25% improvement in incident detection times through automation, the focus now shifts to plans and optimization. 

Strikingly, 100% of Malaysian organizations who were surveyed intend to implement automation and orchestration tools within the next 12 months – thoguh that figure might be skewed by the fact the survey was commissioned by an automation tool company. The strategic approach emphasizes a focus on streamlining response triage, accelerating incident containment, and minimizing recovery time as critical areas for optimization, reflecting a proactive stance in enhancing cybersecurity frameworks.

The cyberthreat makeup in Malaysia is swinging more behind phishing.