Cybercrimes and scams have been successful because of its simplicity: KPMG

PETALING JAYA: Technology, especially access to the internet and social media, has been a saving grace for many during this containment phase in combatting the Covid-19. But this scenario has also provided an opportunity for malicious groups to exploit the current pandemic and launch cyberattacks.

“Right now, everyone is heavily reliant on their laptops or mobile phones to conduct their everyday needs such as online banking, shopping or donating to causes and charities. Criminals are not afraid to take advantage of that,” warned Tan Kim Chuan, Head of Forensic at KPMG in Malaysia.

“Those with ill intent are playing on the uncertainty of the situation coupled with isolation from social distancing to spread fake news and trick people into divulging their online banking details. Just one careless step could lead someone into becoming a victim of fraud and losing more in what is already a difficult situation,” he added.

An increase in Covid-19 themed phishing lures, high-risk fake domains and scams prove that cybercriminals are changing their modus operandi in order to manipulate fear and target individuals and businesses in a variety of ways.

— According to CyberSecurity Malaysia, an estimated 838 incidents were reported from the start of the Movement Control Order on March 18 up till April 7, with most of the incidents involving fraud, intrusion and cyberharassment.

— In March 2020, it was reported that the authorities had opened 393 investigation papers (IPs) involving online sales of face masks as well as fraudulent withdrawals of Employees Provident Fund (EPF) savings with total losses incurred reaching RM3 million.

— On April 2, Malaysia’s National Cyber Security Agency (NACSA) were informed of a malicious Android mobile app and a fraudulent website claiming to be from the Perdana Menteri’s Office to trick victims into submitting their internet banking details. The app also had the capability to read mobile phone SMSes, which could be used to steal victim online banking credentials and TAC codes.¹

According to Tan, cybercrimes and scams have been successful because of its simplicity and it doesn’t require complicated countermeasures to prevent cyber incidents. Some practical and logical preventive steps include:

1. Don’t install applications from untrusted sources. Look out for official announcements and only install apps from the Google Play or Apple App Store.

2. Beware of freeware video conferencing apps. Some of these apps were developed for ease of use, rather than with security and privacy features enabled by default. Require passwords for all meetings, never share your meeting IDs and enable waiting rooms to prevent any unwanted ‘bombers’.

3. Never click on unverified links in emails or text messages.

4. Do not open untrusted attachments.

5. Verify the legitimacy of sources before responding to any text message or voice calls asking for personal or sensitive information.

6. Report any related incident to the proper authorities via

During this time when negligence or carelessness could accidentally open doors to an unwanted cyber breach or financial loss, it isn’t only individuals who are at risk but also organizations that need to remain vigilant.

“With the abrupt transition to remote working as a result of the enforced Movement Control Order (MCO), companies are rolling out new remote working and cloud infrastructure at pace and forced to implement ad-hoc security models and approaches to secure that infrastructure. Yet on the other side, we also observe how organized crime have responded rapidly to the crisis by orchestrating large scale campaigns to defraud customers and businesses,” Tan explained.

Hence, as an immediate measure, companies should focus on embedding pragmatic remote working security controls to deal with COVID-19 themed threats. This includes implementing the following measures at minimum, in order to protect their business and remain resilient:

1. Educate your employees and third-party contractors on working remotely, and various risks such as the proper procedures when connecting organization devices to public Wi-Fi.

2. Provide a mechanism for employees and third-party contractors to easily report any phishing, vishing or smishing attempts.

3. Quickly deploy cloud-based solutions to prevent and detect phishing attempts and update employees and third-party contractors about latest related developments.

For more insights, visit the KPMG microsite Embedding Resilience: The Business Implications of Coronavirus.

¹ Beware of Malicious Android App Being Distributed Through A Fraudulent Website Claiming to Be from The Perdana Menteri Malaysia, 2 April 2020, National Cyber Security Agency (NACSA)

KPMG Management & Risk Consulting Sdn. Bhd.

KPMG is a global network of professional services firms providing Audit, Tax and Advisory services. We operate in 147 countries and territories and have more than 219,000 people working in member firms around the world. The history of KPMG in Malaysia can be traced back to 1928. KPMG Management & Risk Consulting Sdn. Bhd., a company incorporated under Malaysian law, is a member firm of the KPMG network of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”), a Swiss entity. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.



Name: Kimberly Sammy

Manager, MARCOM

KPMG in Malaysia

Tel: +603 7721 3924


Name: Syazlina Nasir

Executive, MARCOM

KPMG in Malaysia

Tel: +603 7721 3728


- Bernama