Is Vietnam ready for the next ransomware attack?

Ngoc Huynh

Two-in-three managed services providers suffer from a shortage of qualified cybersecurity staff, according to a report by Russian computer security specialists Kaspersky Lab.

As a result, ransomware attacks soared around the globe by more than 11% in the 12 months leading to March 2017, said the report.

Ransomware is a type of malware that prevents or limits users from accessing their system, either by locking the system’s screen or by locking the users’ files unless a ransom is paid.

Operators commonly specify ransom payments in bitcoins. Recent ransomware variants have also listed alternative payment options using iTunes and Amazon gift cards.

Ransomware infections were initially limited to Russia, but its popularity and profitable business model soon rapidly spread to other countries across Europe and North America.

According to the report by Kaspersky Lab, the total number of users around the globe who encountered ransomware between April 2016 and March 2017 rose by 11.4% compared to the previous 12 months, from 2,315,931 to 2,581,026.

As a result, the report said companies both large and small are starting to realize that cybersecurity services must become an integral part of their normal internal IT department’s function.

However, the report also said that a shortage of qualified IT security professionals contributes to the challenge all companies face in ramping up their internal cybersecurity offering.

A recently published Enterprise Strategy Group research report, Cybersecurity Analytics and Operations in Transition, reached a similar conclusion to that of the Kaspersky Lab report.

In its survey, 412 cybersecurity and IT professionals were asked about the size and skill set of their organization’s cybersecurity team. Some 54% of the respondents said the skill level for cybersecurity analytics and operations was inadequate for an organization of their size.

Another 57% said the size of their company’s staff for cybersecurity analytics and operations was inappropriate for an organization of their size.

What makes this data most frightening, said ESG, is that far too many organizations remain understaffed and lack advanced cybersecurity skill sets—a double-whammy that surely makes them extremely vulnerable to ransomware and other malware attacks.

The Vietnam Software and IT Services Association recently acknowledged that their findings are consistent with the Kaspersky Lab and ESG reports saying local companies suffer from a critical shortage of qualified IT staff.

This leaves them woefully short handed and ill prepared to deal with ransomware attacks as well as the other malware software that is out there, said representatives of the Association.

The country needs an estimated influx of 80,000 IT fresh staff each year just to keep pace with demand, said the Association, but currently meets less than half of that number.

The best estimates are that there will be roughly 32,000 new university graduates in IT and related fields in 2017, which is far short of the need, leaving the country ill prepared for the next ransomware attack.

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