Over 660,000 Malaysian accounts were compromised between April and June of this year, a whopping 733% increase from the previous quarter.
The latest report from Netherlands-based cybersecurity company and VPN provider – Surfshark – ranks Malaysia eleventh compared to the rest of the world.
Russia led the list with a staggering 28 million compromised accounts, followed by India (4.4 million), China (3.4 million), Brazil (3.2 million), the United States (2.3 million), and South Korea (1.8 million).
The report also noted that the total number of breached accounts globally increased by 2% from the last quarter.
Interestingly, four of the top five countries with the biggest increases in breached accounts from Q1 to Q2 this year were Asian nations.
Japan topped the list with a 1,442% jump, followed by China (1,092%), South Korea (1,013%), and Malaysia (733%).
The only non-Asian country in the top five was Brazil, which saw a 770% increase.
Data breaches and cybersecurity concerns are not new in Malaysia, according to the Surfshark report – since 2004, Malaysia has experienced a total of 44.2 million account breaches.
“In South-East Asia, every second person, or 64 out of every 100, has been affected by data breaches,” said Agneska Sablovskaja, data researcher at Surfshark.
“However, in Malaysia, this number goes up to 138 per 100 people. Statistically speaking, an average Malaysian has been affected by data breaches at least one time,” she added.
The data provided by Surfshark is based on an analysis of 27,000 leaked databases, with more details on the findings of its report available via an interactive data breach monitoring tool on its website.
The growing number of data breaches locally is a cause for concern, especially considering the leaks earlier this year where the personal data of some 22.5 million Malaysians was apparently compromised and then sold online.
A separate study by cybersecurity software company, Trend Micro, also found that 82% of Malaysian companies are worried about their expanding “attack surface” – or the number of entry points that could be exploited by cyber criminals.
The study also revealed that 43% of Malaysian organisations admit that the growing attack surface is “spiralling out of control”.
What is driving the increase in cybersecurity breaches? Trend Micro said in a statement that it’s due to the rapid advancement in technology brought about as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“IT modernisation over the past two years was a necessary response to the ravages of the pandemic, but in many cases, it unwittingly expanded the digital attack surface, giving threat actors more opportunities to compromise key assets,” said Goh Chee Hoh, Trend Micro managing director for Malaysia and nascent countries.
Trend Micro claimed to have blocked over 94 million threats among its users last year.
The popular methods employed by threat actors include phishing attacks that trick people into entering their personal info in a bogus website; vulnerability exploits that take advantage of flaws in software and devices; deploying malware or ransomware; and reading keystrokes to capture users’ logins.
In the event of a data breach, there is often little that users can do to protect themselves beyond changing their passwords immediately once finding out their accounts have been compromised.
Worryingly, it is not uncommon for users to be unaware that their accounts have been compromised in the first place.
It’s recommended that users routinely monitor their account activity, be suspicious of unsolicited emails, make use of two-factor authentication wherever possible, and check websites like haveibeenpwned.com to see if their accounts or phone numbers have been involved in any cybersecurity breaches.