Bangkok (Thailand), 4 March 2022 – The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) organized an on-site event to conclude a regional public awareness campaign on ransomware prevention entitled #RansomAware, highlighting best cybersecurity practices for a safer digital environment.
It is predicted that ransomware attacks could happen every two seconds by 2031, causing the world around US$ 265 billion in damage. For Thailand alone, the attacks could cost THB 286 billion in damages. Because of the complex and critical data and systems that society currently relies on, and the evolving criminal ransomware tactics, governments, companies and members of the public can all be targets of this financially-motivated cybercrime.
In response, the RansomAware campaign, funded by the Government of Japan, focuses on localizing and raising awareness on ransomware and available prevention tactics among Southeast Asian leaders and the general public. Attended by 40 participants from the Thai authorities, public organizations, associations, private companies and media outlets, the To Be RansomAware: Campaign Landing Event concludes the campaign.
After a month of implementation, the regional campaign reached over 10 million online users and counting. The campaign successfully engaged with relevant national authorities who are specialized in cybersecurity in the region. Key campaign messages and materials in five languages (Thai, English, Vietnamese, Bahasa Indonesia and Chinese) on ransomware prevention are amplified to the public by over 30 digital media outlets across the region. As gathered, the general public sentiment is that people are concerned about the surge in ransomware attacks in health settings amidst the pandemic and would like to have policy framework in place. The public is also better able to relate to the risks that have real-life effects, seeking more information on the prevention.
More communication materials on the measures to prevent or disrupt ransomware attacks are available at campaign landing page: https://bit.ly/ransomaware.
Mr. Yuichi Oba, Minister and Deputy Chief of Mission, Permanent Representative to UNESCAP, from the Embassy of Japan in Thailand and Mr. Jeremy Douglas, UNODC Regional Representative, welcomed the participants. “UNODC recognizes ransomware as a serious threat that needs to be addressed and we believe it can be addressed. By being aware of the prevention and mitigation measures and best cybersecurity practices, big differences can be made,” said Jeremy Douglas.
Local, regional and global statistics on ransomware to raise public awareness were highlighted by Mr. Alexandru Caciuloiu, UNODC Cybercrime and Cryptocurrency Advisor. This was followed by the sharing of the RansomAware campaign key findings.
Apart from awareness-raising, UNODC also provides technical assistance to first responders, law enforcement and the judiciary, as well as support on legislation development and studies on cryptocurrency regulation in Southeast Asia.
The event featured three keynote presentations. The first keynote was delivered by Manachanok Jumroonrojana, Superintendent of High-Tech Crime Division, Cybercrime Investigation Bureau, Royal Thai Police, highlighting different characteristics of ransomware. Major attacks have targeted various critical infrastructure sectors, i.e. finance, education, transportation, healthcare and SMEs. Attacks are on the rise, becoming much more sophisticated, organized and aggressive. High-profile targets are not the exception.
The second keynote discussed cybersecurity best practices and was delivered by Group Captain Jadet Khuhakongkit, Director of Critical Information Infrastructure Management Office, National Cybersecurity Agency (NCSA), Thailand. NCSA works to enhance cybersecurity management and incident response readiness for critical information infrastructure organizations. Referring to the Cyber Security Act 2019, a Code of Practice and a standard framework to maintain cybersecurity in government agencies are now being implemented in Thailand.
Lastly, the role of public-private partnership to create a safer digital environment was presented by Yuri Takahashi, Senior Coordinator, Trend Micro. Sharing and exchanging information between public and private sector is critical to prevent and mitigate serious damages caused by ransomware.
Prevention is better and easier than a cure. At risk of ransomware attacks accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals, organizations and companies are encouraged to regularly update their software and back up their data, avoid sharing personal information online, think twice before clicking suspicious links, create strong passwords, and add as many layers of security as they can.
Click here to read more about Cybercrime and COVID-19 in Southeast Asia: an evolving picture.
Click here to read more about Global Programme on cybercrime.