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PH faces surge on malicious URL attacks, more than 76 million accessed in 2023: report

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Azunta Gaviola

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2 months ago

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Manila, Philippines – With malicious URL attacks remaining prevalent in the country, the latest report by cybersecurity firm Trend Micro revealed that, despite a 20% decline, more than 76 million malicious URLs were still accessed in the Philippines in 2023.

The report also indicated a similar trend for other threats, with a significant number of detections despite a year-over-year decline. These include email threats (27% decrease) and botnet victims (27% decrease), while malware detections increased by 12%.

Furthermore, it was also noted that a total of 161 billion threats were blocked by the organisation in 2023, compared to 82 billion threats five years ago.

Among the key findings of the study was a surge of 349% year-on-year (YoY) on email malware detection, while malicious phishing URL detections declined by 27% YoY. These figures indicate a trend towards greater use of malicious attachments rather than links directly included in emails.

The report further observed an increase in business email compromise detections by 16% YoY. Ransomware detections, on the other hand, dropped 14%; however, there was a 35% increase in threats blocked under the organisation’s File Reputation Services.

With this data, findings indicate that threat actors are becoming more prudent about selecting their targets and, secondly, becoming more skilled in bypassing early detection layers. 

For instance, in the case of malicious emails, cybercriminals now focus on a smaller pool of higher-profile victims with more sophisticated attacks rather than launching large-scale attacks that rely on victims clicking on malicious links in websites and emails. This approach helps them evade network and email filters, which could explain the surge in file detections at endpoints.

Meanwhile, in the case of ransomware, the rise in FRS detections indicates that threat actors are improving at evading primary detection through methods like Bring Your Own Vulnerable Driver and zero-day exploits, among others.

Additionally, the report also shed light on the threat developments in Southeast Asia in 2023, with the region seeing an overall increase in ransomware detections and making up more than half (52%) of the global number. In the Philippines, the number of ransomware detections declined by 93%.

Talking about the findings, Ian Felipe, country manager at Trend Micro Philippines, said, “We’re blocking more threats than ever before for our customers. However, adversaries showed a variety and sophistication of tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) in their attacks, especially in defence evasion. As our report demonstrates, network defenders must continue to proactively manage risk across the entire attack surface today. Understanding the strategies favoured by our adversaries is the foundation of effective defence.”

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