In today’s digital era, the Internet has become an important aspect of our everyday lives. Whether through browsing, e-commerce or social networking sites, we are now connected more than ever before – but perhaps too much that making just one mistake could get your reputation immediately ruined both online and offline.
“Reputation is this widespread belief of something or an idea that we need to carry. We need to live up to expectations – how we behave and everything. But looking at how time evolves and looking at how everything is being digitised, we need to carry our reputation digital as well,” explained Jesmond Chang, Head of Corporate Communications, Asia Pacific, Kaspersky, in the virtual Kaspersky Cybersecurity Weekend APAC 2020.
Such reputation is important for individuals, and even more so for companies whose entire business is on the line. In a survey of 1,240 working professionals and active social media users from APAC, Kaspersky found that 50% avoid companies who had received negative news coverage online.
In addition, 4 in 10 also stopped using a company’s products or services once they were embroiled in some crisis online. Vitaly Kamluk, Director, Global Research and Analysis Team Asia Pacific, Kaspersky, then discussed the rising threats in the APAC region and how they affect the digital reputation era.
“I can say that our acts in life are always going through a subjective analysis and lens of people who see us and judge us by what we do. This subjectivity quite often causes misunderstanding and even conflicts,” said Vitaly, saying that digital reputation is harder to maintain, especially in the era of numerous cyber threats.
For example, Vitaly mentioned some large organisations that have been subjected to data breaches before, such as Yahoo! whose 3 billion data records were leaked and Lazada Thailand with 13 million records stolen. He explained that such attacks hurt a lot for companies when it comes to business and collective digital reputation. “Not only your customers can turn away from you, but you may also be questioned by the government. Competitors can learn some of your secrets and definitely each incident has a negative effect on the business,” added Vitaly.
Aside from data breaches, there is also a type of attack which Vitaly calls “The Cybersecurity Disease of 2020” – targeted ransomware or “Ransomware 2.0”. Vitaly explained that the modus operandi of cybercriminals using targeted ransomware involves infiltrating and stealing data, encrypting data, and demanding for ransom and if the demands are not met, cybercriminals will shame the victim company by publishing the data.
This form of attack greatly affects the digital reputation of organisations, and as a company, you are locked between different fields of pressure to save your face and your business. One is business continuity. If your important files are encrypted, your business cannot run any longer, so you care about restoring the business as soon as possible.
“Exposure of the data breached and the database system itself actually creates strong pressure that comes from the government, from the business partners that may actually turn away from you and from the public opinion, whether with existing or future customers,” added Vitaly.
He revealed that targeted ransomware has been a problem for many enterprises in the APAC region, with over 61 organisations breached in 2020. He added that in some cases, Maze ransomware gang claimed responsibility and published stolen data from the compromised companies. The Maze group was formed last year, with its first victim having 700MB of internal data leaked.
“Maze group just announced that they are closing down, but this gang just triggered the beginning of this trend. A successful targeted ransomware attack is a PR crisis, which can damage an organisation’s reputation, online and offline. Financial toll aside, fixing one’s name is quite a harder task to take, which is why we urge public and private entities to take their security seriously,” said Vitaly.
To remain protected against these threats, Vitaly suggests enterprises and organisations to: