Ex­er­cise cau­tion when us­ing emails and brows­ing web­sites due to ‘ran­somware’ as­sault, warn ex­perts

New Straits Times - - News -


MALAYSIANS have been urged to take pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sures fol­low­ing the global “ran­somware” cy­ber­at­tack that hit nearly 100 coun­tries since Satur­day. Cy­berse­cu­rity ex­perts yes­ter­day ad­vised In­ter­net users to ex­er­cise cau­tion when open­ing emails from un­known senders and when brows­ing un­fa­mil­iar web­sites.

Univer­siti Ke­bangsaan Malaysia (UKM) Cy­ber Se­cu­rity Unit head Pro­fes­sor Dr Za­rina Shukur, how­ever, said Malaysia was cur­rently “safe” from the cy­ber­at­tack.

“Safe means no se­ri­ous cases re­ported. Most agen­cies in the gov­ern­ment sec­tor have al­ready implemented the In­for­ma­tion Se­cu­rity Man­age­ment Sys­tems (ISMS).

“The dis­as­ter re­cov­ery plan is one of the el­e­ments in ISMS.

“How­ever, we will see whether there are cases re­ported to­mor­row (to­day),” she said yes­ter­day.

Za­rina also warned the pub­lic against down­load­ing files or ap­pli­ca­tions from un­fa­mil­iar web­sites.

She said In­ter­net users and sys­tem ad­min­is­tra­tors should re­port any sus­pi­cious ac­tiv­ity to Cy­ber Se­cu­rity Malaysia or the Malaysia Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Mul­ti­me­dia Com­mis­sion (MCMC).

The cy­ber­at­tack, which be­gan on Satur­day, has spread ma­li­cious soft­ware around the world, shut­ting down net­works at hos­pi­tals, banks and gov­ern­ment agen­cies.

UKM In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy Cen­tre deputy di­rec­tor Dr Mohd Ros­madi Mokhtar said al­though no cases were re­ported, Malaysia was still vul­ner­a­ble to at­tacks.

“All users must up­date their an­tivirus soft­ware, en­sure all hosts have en­abled end­point anti-mal­ware and keep mul­ti­ple back­ups (of im­por­tant files) in their ex­ter­nal hard drives or cloud stor­age.

“Also, do not click on un­so­licited web links in emails,” he said yes­ter­day.

On Satur­day, Cy­ber Se­cu­rity Malaysia is­sued an alert after about 100 na­tions were hit by the ran­somware at­tack.

Ran­somware is a type of ma­li­cious soft­ware that takes over a com­puter and pre­vents users from ac­cess­ing data on the com­puter un­til a cer­tain amount has been paid.

The soft­ware in­fects com­put­ers through links or at­tach­ments in ma­li­cious mes­sages known as phish­ing emails. It is usu­ally hidden within the links or at­tach­ments in emails.

When a user clicks on the links, his com­puter will be in­fected and the soft­ware takes over. It en­crypts data us­ing an en­cryp­tion key, which only the hacker knows. A cer­tain amount of ran­som needs to be paid to en­sure the data is not lost.

In most cases, ran­soms of be­tween US$300 (RM1,300) and US$500 are de­manded, and some­times the price can be dou­bled. Par­tic­i­pants in Na­tional Skin Day and Cos­tumed Char­ity pa­rades show­ing off their out­fits while com­plet­ing the 3km trail. The event was or­gan­ised by the der­ma­tol­ogy units of Univer­siti Pu­tra Malaysia and Univer­siti Te­knologi Mara (UiTM) as well UiTM Med­i­cal Stu­dents As­so­ci­a­tion, at Se­tia City Park, Shah Alam, yes­ter­day.

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