The escalating number of cyberattacks in Macau is alarming, the Secretary for Security, Wong Sio Chak, said Friday at the Legislative Assembly (AL).
According to Wong, who was at the AL to hear inquiries and opinions from the lawmakers over the Policy Address for 2024 for the security sector, the number of cyberattacks on Macau’s critical facilities has been growing exponentially. Wong described the situation as “alarming.”
“In 2020, the number of cyberattacks per day was 1,850 and this refers only to critical facilities. In 2021, the number grew to 4,850 cyberattacks per day. In 2022, that number was 5,500. This year, we have some 5,800 cyberattacks per day,” he said. However, he said the increasing number of attacks have not caused significant damage to any of the facilities, as existing protective measures have worked effectively.
“Although we see a hike in the number of attacks, the resultant damage has not been very serious. Until October this year, there were attacks that resulted in severe consequences. This demonstrates our awareness and the effectiveness of protections applied to critical facilities,” Wong concluded.
losses of MOP215 million in first 9 months
Of more serious impact were scams perpetrated via phone or online, with the Secretary acknowledging authorities’ concerns about this year’s outcome in this domain.
According to data referenced by Wong, in the first nine months of this year, phone and online scams caused losses totaling 215 million patacas. However, mechanisms enforced by the banks to monitor and prevent suspicious transactions have prevented the loss of an additional 110 million patacas.
Despite widespread disclosure and efforts to raise awareness by authorities, particularly the Judiciary Police, many members of the populace still fall victim to such scams.
Wong highlighted significant losses in the neighboring region of Hong Kong, where the equivalent of 5 billion patacas has been lost. Similarly, in Singapore, the equivalent of some 3 billion patacas has also reportedly been lost to scammers.
Compared to these regions, Macau’s problem seems relatively small, said Wong. However, the Secretary said, “even one case is too much for us.” Wong noted that between January and September, 1,640 scams were reported in Macau, a 69% increase year-on-year.