SINGAPORE, July 8 — As more people worked from home last year and more businesses went digital, the authorities detected a sharp rise in botnet drones with Singapore internet protocol (IP) addresses, signalling that hackers are stepping up their attacks on home and office devices that are hooked up to the internet.
These could include everything from mobile phones and laptops to baby monitors and smoke detectors, experts said, warning that the rise in such attacks means that users should be more vigilant about the security of their devices.
Ali Fazeli, an information security officer at Singapore-based Infinity Forensics, said that a botnet is a “network or collection of internet connected devices that are infected by malware and remotely controlled by the hacker”.
He said that a botnet drone (not a flying device) is a “computer malware that first infects and compromises the target computer and then connects the target computer into the botnet network”.
The near trebling of detected botnet drones with Singapore IP addresses — up from 2,300 daily in 2019 to 6,600 daily in 2020 on average — was one finding of an annual report by the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) on the cyber landscape here. The report was released on Thursday (July 8).
An IP address allows computers to send and receive information and can be used to identify a computer’s location.
Aside from botnet drones, CSA reported a steep increase in other types of cyber threats such as ransomware and online scams last year.
CSA’s computer emergency response team saw a total of 9,080 cases in 2020 that were related to cyber threats such as ransomware incidents and online scams. Comparatively, there were 8,491 cases in 2019 and 4,977 cases in 2018.
Botnet drones and servers
Last year, CSA observed 1,026 malicious command and control servers hosted in Singapore — a 94 per cent jump from the 530 command and control servers reported in 2019. These servers are used alongside botnet drones by cyber criminals.