APAC countries especially vulnerable to malware: Microsoft

  • 4 of the top 5 most-at-risk countries are from Asia, Indonesia among them
  • Top 3 most encountered malware are Gamarue, Skeeyah, and Peals
APAC countries especially vulnerable to malware: Microsoft

THE Asia Pacific region is especially vulnerable with emerging markets most at risk of malware threats, according to Microsoft Asia Pacific’s Malware Infection Index 2016 (MII2016).
Four of the top five locations across the globe most at risk of infection are from Asia Pacific: Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Nepal, topping the rankings at first, second, fourth and fifth places respectively in terms of computers encountering malware, the company said in a statement.
Each country had an average of close to 40% or more computers encountering malware, compared with the worldwide average of only 20.8%, as of the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2015, up from 17.6% in Q1 2015.
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MII2016 identifies the key malware threats in the region, and ranks markets in Asia Pacific according to how much they are affected, Microsoft Asia Pacific said.
The findings are based on data from the Microsoft Malware Protection Centre (MMPC) and the Microsoft Security Intelligence Report (SIRv20).
The top three most encountered malware are Gamarue, a computer worm that is commonly distributed via exploit kits and social engineering; and Skeeyah and Peals, trojans that try to look innocent to convince you to install them.
These malware can steal your personal information, download more malware, or give a malicious hacker access to your PC, the company said.
In fact, the Windows Defender Advanced Threat Hunting team in April reported the discovery of a group of cybercriminals, dubbed Platinum, who since 2009 have been actively targeting governmental organisations, defence institutes, intelligence agencies, and telecommunication providers in South and South-East Asia.
Gamarue is particularly prevalent in South-East Asia, and was the third most commonly encountered malware family worldwide in the second half of 2015.
Certain heavily affected locations such as Indonesia reported Gamarue encounter rates of over 20% in Q4 2015, close to the worldwide encounter rates for all threat families combined for the quarter.
It is commonly distributed via exploit kits and social engineering and has been observed to steal information from the local computer and communicate with command-and-control servers managed by attackers.
Trojans Peals and Skeeyah are generic detections for a variety of threats that share certain characteristics.
Trojan encounters increased 57% from Q2 2015 to Q3 2015, and remained at a high through the end of the year, which was attributed to increased encounters with Peals and Skeeyah.
They have been observed to download and install other malware, use your computer for click-fraud, steal information like usernames and browsing history, and give your PC access to a remote malicious hacker, the company said (click infographic below to enlarge).

APAC countries especially vulnerable to malware: Microsoft

“The rising sophistication and targeted cyberattacks are causing devastating disruption and losses of data and information across all computer and Internet user segments,” said Microsoft Asia Pacific Intellectual Property & Digital Crimes Unit regional director Keshav Dhakad.
“In fact, it generally takes on average up to 200 days for organisations to find out that they have been victims of cyber-attacks,” he added.
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