Singapore universities cyber attack
cyber attack (Representational picture) Pixabay

Not only have the western countries been targeted by the hackers this year, but many Southeast Asian countries too recorded a huge number of cyber threats, going by Vietnam Computer Emergency Response Team (VNCERT), which puts the number at 6,219 cyberattacks since the start of 2019.

As per VNCERT, the recent numbers of these cybersecurity incidents has shown an increase of 104 percent compared to the same period in 2018. Being a ministerial unit, VNCERT has functioned as a coordinator of computer incident response activities in nationwide. It said on its website that these cyber threats include 2,155 phishing, 3,824 deface and 240 malware attacks. In addition, about 100,000 computers were infected with malicious viruses (botnet) daily during the period, it stated.

On the other hand, as per the Authority of Information Security, which runs under the Ministry of Information and Communications, the cybersecurity and safety in the country have been improved over the past decade due to the campaigns on malware removal and training courses on cyber attack combat launched in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Even a report published by International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in late March 2019 showed that Vietnam was ranked 50th out of 175 positions of 194 countries and territories worldwide in the global cybersecurity index. In 2017 it was at 100th position.

In terms of cybersecurity, it also came fifth out of 11 countries in Southeast Asia, after Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia respectively.

Cyber threat intelligence firm IntSights issued a threat brief on the growing Vietnamese cybercriminal landscape. It also mentioned state-affiliated or state-aligned groups APT32 (OceanLotus) and APT-C-01 (Poison Ivy), as well as local cyber legislation that is promoting the development of cyber subterfuge among Vietnamese young people.

Insight's report added that the rapid economic growth and the expansion of Vietnam naturally "attracts undesirable attention in the form of cybercrime and cyber espionage."

"Regional cyber threat actors have targeted foreign multinational organizations operating inside Vietnam with increased frequency, and one group appears to be acting in support of Vietnam's interests by creating economic advantages through cyberattacks on competitors," said the report.

In view of these cyberattacks, the government is cracking down on internet usage, blocking its citizens' access to sites it deems to be inappropriate in terms of cyber security. However, cyber criminal activity in Vietnam has only grown in recent years, and one of the major players appears to be working to forward the government's priorities by attacking organizations viewed as competitive threats, said IntSights.