So far in 2017, researchers from Control Risks have observed rising levels of advanced ransomware variants targeting high-value assets in Asia-Pacific, Forbes reported. This shift is reflective of the increasing sophistication and specialization of ransomware, which enables cybercriminals to identify organizations’ most valuable data and go after those targets.

Asia-Pacific Ransomware Attacks Increasing

In the past year, website ransomware, in which fraudsters infect elements of a webpage with malware to facilitate distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, has grown significantly.

Many examples of this attack are present in the Asia-Pacific region. For example, the researchers reported that the creator of the JapanLocker ransomware variant, known as Shor7cut, is likely a member of Indonesian cybercrime group Defacer Tersakiti. They also observed a variant called KimcilWare that targeted websites running on the Magento e-commerce platform, which was also likely developed in Indonesia.

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In March 2016, researchers from Kaspersky Lab discovered that more than 70 servers had been compromised by the CTB-Locker ransomware. Although the breach affected servers in 10 countries, most of the victims were located in the U.S. The incident demonstrated the cybergang’s ability to adapt a successful attack to infect new targets, then export the malware to another market for future harvesting.

Websites that facilitate financial transactions are particularly attractive targets for attackers. According to Control Risks research, financial fraudsters are particularly active in Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, the Philippines and Indonesia.

China’s Cybersecurity Law

But there are even more nations to watch in the Asia-Pacific region. The Chinese Cybersecurity Law (CSL), designed to codify the government’s control over critical infrastructure, is set to take effect in June 2017. According to Reuters, Chinese officials hope the controversial cybersecurity legislation will enable the government to create a “secure and controllable” domestic infrastructure.

Ransomware is just one of many sophisticated cyberweapons fraudsters will use to spread attacks beyond borders in 2017. Judging by experience, users can expect these strikes to hit the U.S. in the near future.

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