Filipinos want top cybersecurity from mobile brands | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware

FILIPINOS are embracing fintech apps. Based on its recent survey, Appdome, a cyber defense automation platform in the mobile economy, said 76.7 percent of Filipino consumers reported an increase in mobile app usage over the last 12 months, with e-wallet adoption and usage on the rise. Aside from e-wallets and blockchain games, Filipinos are also frequent users of digital lending apps, according to another report.

However, along with innovations come certain risks. Financial apps are particularly vulnerable to fake apps/app tampering and private crypto keys theft, to name a few. In an online conversation, Tom Tovar, CEO at Appdome, shared with The Manila Times how Filipino mobile users can protect themselves against these attacks.

The Manila Times (TMT): What are the implications for Filipino mobile users on your latest survey findings?

Tom Tovar (Tovar): I think one of the most interesting findings of the survey is that Filipinos, in general, are actually quite cyber-savvy. They are aware of cyberthreats. Now, consumers expect brands to protect them against threats, against fraud, against malware. That is one of the most telling parts of the survey.

I think the other telling part is where the Philippines stands apart from the rest of the world is that Filipinos believe they have to be using the most secure apps in their life. And so we’re talking about two types of apps. We’re talking about financial services, apps that handle money transactions. And the other one is apps that store personal and personal identifiable information, health care apps, but focusing on financial services apps. For Filipinos, mobile apps security is of utmost importance.

TMT: Filipinos, especially the poor and rural folks, are largely unbanked. How do digital platforms like e-wallet-related services help reduce the so-called digital divide that’s behind the unbanked population?

Tovar: That’s a very good point, and I think some of the data point toward that too. You’ve made a reasonable conclusion, although I would look at it in a different way. You’re saying that the Filipino community is largely unbanked kind of gives a negative impression, and I don’t want to leave it at that. I think that the much more telling part of the story is that the Philippines as a society is really leapfrogging away from traditional banking toward more mobile transactions and services like e-wallet services. And that, I think, is a much more interesting conclusion.

Banking brands are very quickly catching up so that a large chunk of consumers are moving away from traditional banking services to financial apps and the reality is, consumers are moving to the much more flexible world of e-money, and that, I think, is probably the positive slant that I would make on your observations about the unbanked population.

The biggest takeaway of it all is that consumers will migrate towards the solution with the least friction and the solution that gives them the biggest flexibility. And I think the wallet vendors in the Philippines are now outpacing traditional bankers because they are becoming super apps.

TMT: Speaking of cybersecurity for mobile users, what should ordinary Filipino consumers watch out for and what are the preliminary indications that you are being cyber threatened for that matter?

Tovar: Cyberthreats are becoming more and more sophisticated. And so what we’ve learned from the survey is that consumers no longer want to be held responsible for their own protection. Instead, consumers expect brands to protect them against threats, against malware, against fraud. And that’s primarily because it is so difficult to know when a cyberattack is happening. In reality, most cyberattacks happen in the background.

Going back to your question about indicators of cyberthreats, the most recent one is called a remote access Trojan or “rats” because, like rats in general, it is able to get in, and find a way around, and start eating into (fire) walls and everything else. And the scary part of a remote access Trojan is that a Trojan is malware that is masquerading as a normal app. And once that app is installed on the device, the malicious Trojan will then try to launch an attack on that app and will take over the SMS messages, or OTP, and everything else. And all the protections that have been built into the app to prevent this from happening will be bypassed.

TMT: What is/are the impact(s), if any, of developments in AI on mobile cybersecurity efforts today?

Tovar: Creating new attacks and malware used to be a complex and hard task. Unfortunately, the democratization of artificial intelligence (AI) by ChatGPT and other generative AI tools has significantly lowered the bar for hackers and fraudsters. The “Exploit Economy” is already utilizing automation to attack, find and exploit vulnerabilities in mobile apps. Generative AI will only increase the velocity at which cybercriminals can create and launch new attacks and malware. In the era of AI’s transformative influence, cybersecurity teams must leverage automation to quickly and rapidly build the right mobile app defenses so they can stay ahead of the ever-changing threats and outwit attackers proactively.


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National Cyber Security