INTERNET security firm Kaspersky said the password stealers it detected and blocked increased by 22.5% to 55,597 in the first three months of the year from 45,367 in the same period a year ago.

“It is known that Southeast Asia homes the most active social media users in the world. At the same time, the region is witnessing a massive digital shift at a breakneck speed,” Yeo Siang Tiong, Kaspersky’s general manager for Southeast Asia, said in an e-mailed statement on Monday.

Mr. Yeo noted that there are now 400 million online consumers in the region, “a number predicted to happen not until 2025.”

“Hence, it is expected that cybercriminals would be very interested to take over our virtual accounts brimming with financial and confidential data,” the Kaspersky official added.

The cybersecurity and digital privacy company defines password stealers as a “type of malware that steals account information.”

“In essence, it is similar to a banking Trojan, but instead of intercepting or substituting entered data, it usually steals information already stored in the computer: usernames and passwords saved in the browser, cookies, and other files that happen to be in the hard drive of the infected device,” the company said.

Meanwhile, the Philippines’ neighbors, Indonesia and Thailand, saw a slight decrease in the passwords stealers that Kaspersky detected and blocked in the first quarter.

Password stealers blocked in Indonesia fell by 2.1% to 109,932 from 112,255, while Thailand saw a decline of 6.3% to 73,268 from 78,186 previously.

In Malaysia, password stealers blocked in the first quarter jumped by 61.3% to 180,576 from 111,919 in the same quarter a year ago, while Singapore saw an increase of 78.8% to 29,875 from 16,706 previously. Password stealers in Vietnam also rose by 46.5% to 375,436 from 256,303.

“As we harness the power of technology and the internet, we urge everyone to strengthen their online locks regularly. Like how we improve our security systems as our houses accumulate more assets, we should also be more thorough on how we secure our online properties as we store more data in it,” Mr. Yeo said. — Arjay L. Balinbin