Indonesia and Vietnam cop bulk of SMB cryptomining attacks in Southeast Asia

Kaspersky claims that it blocked more cryptomining attacks on Southeast Asian SMBs than any other kind of cyber attack in 2020.

Small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in Indonesia and Vietnam have, for the second year in a row, weathered more cryptomining incidents than in any other country in Southeast Asia, according to cyber security vendor Kaspersky.  

Over the past two years, the majority of monitored cryptomining attempts on Southeast Asian SMBs prevented by the Russian cyber security provider were observed in Indonesia and Vietnam, which together accounted for almost 71 per cent in 2020 and 80 per cent in 2019, respectively, of all attempted incidents. 

Malicious cryptocurrency malware used in cryptomining is typically employed by cyber criminals to tap into hardware they don’t own. The hardware could be smartphones, computers, tablets or servers. The illicit miners harness the processing power of such devices to mine for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

Kaspersky claims that it blocked more cryptomining attacks on Southeast Asian SMBs than any other kind of cyber attack in 2020 – roughly 8.93 million during the year. By comparison, detected phishing attempts were at 2.89 million, while ransomware attempts were at 804,513 last year. 

While this figure is high and continued to represent the bulk of attacks Kaspersky blocked last year, it is less than the 13.25 million detections among SMBs in Southeast Asia the company saw in 2019. 

“We have seen a decrease in miner attacks around the world and the same trend applies to SEA [Southeast Asia], too,” said Evgeny Lopatin, Kaspersky malware analyst team lead. “The main factor behind the decreasing number of attacks is the cost of cryptocurrencies which has been declining over the past three years and only recently began to rise sharply in price again.” 

Although the prevalence of such attacks is high, Kaspersky highlighted a dead giveaway for businesses that might have fallen victim to such an attack: a mysteriously rising power bill.  

Yeo Siang Tiong (Kaspersky)Credit: Kaspersky
Yeo Siang Tiong (Kaspersky)

If business owners are finding their office power bill unusually high, especially as employees work from home, they should check their IT back-end, Kaspersky noted, as there may be cryptominers illicitly using the business IT resources. 

“SMBs normally have a relaxed attitude towards information security and so the main damage from cryptomining is expected to be felt by this sector,” said Yeo Siang Tiong, Kaspersky general manager for Southeast Asia. “Cryptocurrencies continue to attract investor and user attention due to the continued spike in its prices so we really caution SMBs not to underestimate the possibility that cryptomining will remain to be a serious cyber threat.  

“After all, cyber criminals have long realised that infecting servers is more profitable than mining on home users’ computers so SMBs should take this silent threat seriously,” he added.