May 25, 2017

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Malaysia less susceptible to malware than emerging economies in APAC Malwarebytes report

Android malware and botnets are currently Malaysia’s most prominent malware

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – May 25, 2017Malwarebytes™, the leading advanced malware prevention and remediation solution, found that Malaysia ranks fifth in volume of malware detected in the country amongst other countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The country is leading among emerging markets in Asia in terms of vulnerability against malware, according to Malwarebytes’ recent Asia Pacific State of Malware Report 2017. The report examines the top malware threats present in the region. The findings illustrate a significant shift in cybercriminal attacks and malware methodology from previous years.

The study reveals that botnets and Android malware have risen to prominence in Malaysia’s current threat landscape. Malaysia ranks 10th in global botnet incidences, with Asia-Pacific as a whole accounting for more than 50% of botnet incidences globally. Furthermore, Malaysia is also seeing high amounts of Android malware and ranks 12th globally under this category. Regarding its total malware infection rate, while it only accounts for one percent in Malaysia, the country is ranked top 20 globally.

The study examined data from more than one billion malware detections/incidences, covered more than 100 million devices in over 200 countries, in both corporate and consumer environments. Data was also obtained from Malwarebytes’ internal honeypots and collection efforts to identify malware distribution, not just infections.

Malware that was covered include:

·        Banking Trojans

A malicious program as a form of Trojan horse which is used to steal confidential information in online banking systems.

·        Ransomware

A type of malware that block users from accessing their system until a ransom is paid. It can be done through locking users’ file and/or system’s screen.

·        Botnets

A type of malware that infects a number of interconnected devices to perform multiple tasks such as denial-of-service attacks (DDOS), spreading spam, bitcoin mining, clickfraud, and stealing personal and financial information. It is under the control of a botnet operator that runs or controls the C&C (command and control) server(s).

·        Ad fraud

Also, called click fraud or click spam, is a practice by bad actors, specifically dubious advertising networks, wherein they deliberately use automated programs—from simple to sophisticated bots and botnets—to interact with advertisements online.

 

·        Adware

Software designed to display or download unwanted advertisements, such as banners, automatically when the program is running.

·        Android malware

A malicious software that infects mobile phones, which are run under Android operating systems through making the system collapse or confidential information leakage.

 

Jeff Hurmuses, Area Vice President and Managing Director, Asia-Pacific, Malwarebytes said, “To protect users in Malaysia from cybercriminals, we must possess an intimate understanding of their methodologies and tactics.”

He added, “In Malaysia, we are seeing that botnets and Android malware are particularly rampant. While malware infection rates only account for a small percentage in Malaysia in our current report, as a country with a population of over 30 million, and the government targeting to increase internet penetration to 95% by 2020, it is likely that more and more businesses and individuals will be exposed to cyberthreats. Thus, it is imperative for everyone in the country to remain aware of new cyberattack methodologies and how they can impact them.”

Key findings include[1]:

Total malware detections

Emerging markets in Asia-Pacific, such as Indonesia, India, Philippines, Thailand, and Malaysia, proved to be more susceptible to malware infections than their counterparts. However, Malaysia performs the best among the emerging countries with a malware detection rate that is two to three times lower. Nonetheless, Malaysia still ranks in the top 20 globally in terms of total malware detections.

From a regional perspective, Asia-Pacific contributed significantly to the total number of malware infections detected globally, with three countries amongst the top 10 countries globally with most malware infections.

Malaysia is relatively safe from ad fraud, adware, and ransomware

Malaysia is relatively untouched by ad fraud, adware, and ransomware with an infection rate of less than one percent in these categories, which is twice lower than the other emerging markets on average. However, Malaysia still ranks top 30 globally among these categories.

Malaysia makes top 10 for botnet detections

Asia-Pacific topped the chart of botnet detections globally, accounting for more than 50% of botnet detections with emerging markets responsible for the majority of infections. While Malaysia ranks top 10 globally in the list, the botnet infection rate in Malaysia is significantly lower compared to other emerging markets, such as Philippines and Indonesia, at less than two percent.

  • In Asia, the countries listed in order from most incidences to least are the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Thailand, and Malaysia.
  • Malaysia was the least infected country among the emerging markets, with nearly three times fewer detections than the fourth ranked country, Thailand.

Mobile malware is getting smarter

In our research, we have observed increased use of randomization utilized by malware authors to evade detection by mobile security engines, leading to increased malware infection rates amongst Android devices globally.

Android malware is particularly rampant in Indonesia, India, the Philippines, and Malaysia, in which Malaysia is most vulnerable towards Android malware among various kinds of malware.

  • Malaysia is ranked 12th globally for Android malware detections. Together with the other top three emerging Asia countries, it accounts for more than 17% of Android malware detections across the globe.
  • The high prevalence of Android malware detections in these countries can be attributed to the extensive use of relatively unsecured third-party app stores amongst consumers.

Risky online banking

Emerging countries in Asia accounted for a disproportionately large amount of banking Trojan malware detections globally. While Malaysia is ranked top five in Asia and 23rd globally, the detection rate is less than one percent, which is significantly lower than neighboring countries, such as the Philippines and Thailand in which these two countries combined accounted for more than 20% of global banking Trojan detections.

Malware distribution

In examining malware distribution over the years, we have observed only one stable truth of malware development: distribution through email. Phishing attacks, including malicious attachments, had a big comeback in the second half of 2016. However, we predict that exploit kits, RIG specifically, are likely to become the standard for malware distribution again in the very near future.

We will not see malicious phishing attacks disappear. Due to the new developments in the download and installation of malware originating from phishing emails, as well as the use of macro scripts in Microsoft Office documents, this method of attack will continue at steady levels throughout the rest of the year, likely with increased sophistication.

Hurmuses said, “While our findings illustrate that emerging markets in Asia are generally more vulnerable to malware, Malaysia is performing well in fighting against malware in the region. As the government is striving for a Digital Economy, we are excited to be here to further support all consumers and businesses in Malaysia to help them better protect their online activities. At Malwarebytes, we strongly believe that everyone deserves a malware free existence.”

 

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About Malwarebytes

Malwarebytes is the next-gen cybersecurity company that millions worldwide trust. Malwarebytes proactively protects people and businesses against dangerous threats such as malware, ransomware, and exploits that escape detection by traditional antivirus solutions. The company’s flagship product combines advanced heuristic threat detection with signature-less technologies to detect and stop a cyberattack before damage occurs. More than 10,000 businesses worldwide use, trust, and recommend Malwarebytes. Founded in 2008, the company is headquartered in California, with offices in Europe and Asia, and a global team of threat researchers and security experts. For more information, please visit us at http://www.malwarebytes.com/.

Malwarebytes founder and CEO Marcin Kleczynski started the company to create the best disinfection and protection solutions to combat the world’s most harmful Internet threats. Marcin was recently named “CEO of the Year” in the Global Excellence awards and has been named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 Rising Stars of Enterprise Technology list and the Silicon Valley Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 award, adding those to an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

Follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Malwarebytes

Follow us on Twitter: @malwarebytes https://twitter.com/malwarebytes

Follow us on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/malwarebytes

See us on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/malwarebytes

Read our latest Malwarebytes Labs blog: https://blog.malwarebytes.com/

 

About The State of Malware Report

To view the full global State of Malware report for more detailed findings and analysis, visit www.malwarebytes.com/pdf/white-papers/stateofmalware/?ref=pr_mwb.

Malwarebytes continues to research and innovate solutions against the evolving threats faced by all, whether the computer user is at home or at work. Another recent Malwarebytes research report on ransomware documented late-2016 trends on this threat from more than 200 countries. These reports and analysis from Malwarebytes global telemetry feed aids the company in developing solutions like Malwarebytes 3.0, a first of its kind. Employing four independent technology modules—anti-malware, anti-ransomware, anti-exploit and malicious website protection— Malwarebytes blocks and removes both known and unknown threats across the globe.

 

Appendix

Study Methodology

Examined data using:

  • Almost one billion malware detections/incidences
  • The June to November 2016 time period only
  • Nearly 100 million Windows and Android devices
  • Over 200 countries
  • From both the corporate and consumer environments
  • Concentrating on six threat categories: ransomware, ad fraud malware, Android malware, botnets, banking Trojans, and adware
  • Malwarebytes’ internal honeypots and collection efforts to identify malware distribution, and not only infection

Study Findings

Table 1

Total Malware
Country APAC ranking Detection rate Global ranking
Indonesia 1 3.8% 4
India 2 2.9% 7
Philippines 3 2.8% 8
Thailand 4 1.5% 14
Malaysia 5 1.1% 18
South Korea 6 1.0% 19
Japan 7 0.4% 35
Singapore 8 0.2% 47
Hong Kong 9 0.2% 52
Taiwan 10 0.1% 63

Table 2

Botnets
Country APAC ranking Detection rate Global ranking
Philippines 1 28.73% 1
Indonesia 2 7.72% 2
India 3 4.59% 5
Thailand 4 3.39% 7
Malaysia 5 1.41% 10
Japan 6 0.32% 32
South Korea 7 0.24% 41
Singapore 8 0.07% 71
Hong Kong 9 0.05% 81
Taiwan 10 0.02% 115

 

Table 3

Android Malware
Country APAC ranking Detection rate Global ranking
Indonesia 1 6.54% 3
India 2 5.04% 4
Philippines 3 4.25% 6
Malaysia 4 1.89% 12
Thailand 5 1.72% 16
Japan 6 0.48% 33
South Korea 7 0.36% 42
Singapore 8 0.33% 43
Hong Kong 9 0.26% 50
Taiwan 10 0.10% 84

 

Table 4

Banking Trojan
Country APAC Rank Detection rate Global ranking
Philippines 1 15.29% 1
Thailand 2 7.48% 4
Indonesia 3 1.69% 11
India 4 1.03% 17
Malaysia 5 0.74% 23
Japan 6 0.49% 30
South Korea 7 0.27% 36
Hong Kong 8 0.16% 46
Taiwan 9 0.13% 49
Singapore 10 0.08% 61

 

Table 5

Ransomware  
Country APAC Rank Detection rate Global ranking
India 1 1.78% 9
Philippines 2 1.06% 16
Thailand 3 1.01% 18
Indonesia 4 0.98% 19
South Korea 5 0.61% 24
Malaysia 6 0.53% 26
Japan 7 0.29% 37
Singapore 8 0.20% 48
Taiwan 9 0.16% 52
Hong Kong 10 0.12% 58

Table 6

Adware  
Country APAC Rank Detection rate Global ranking
Indonesia 1 2.29% 10
South Korea 2 2.11% 11
India 3 1.76% 12
Thailand 4 1.4% 15
Philippines 5 0.90% 20
Malaysia 6 0.60% 26
Japan 7 0.44% 30
Singapore 8 0.23% 45
Taiwan 9 0.18% 55
Hong Kong 10 0.15% 62

Table 7

Ad Fraud  
Country APAC Rank Detection rate Global ranking
India 1 0.90% 9
Indonesia 2 0.53% 15
Thailand 3 0.52% 16
Philippines 4 0.49% 17
Malaysia 5 0.42% 20
Japan 6 0.37% 22
South Korea 7 0.18% 36
Taiwan 8 0.14% 40
Singapore 9 0.11% 44
Hong Kong 10 0.07% 54

 

 

Definition of Malware

The shortened version of “malicious software.” Malware is the generic or umbrella term to refer to any malicious programs or code that are harmful to systems.

·        Banking Trojans

A malicious program as a form of Trojan horse which is used to steal confidential information in online banking systems.

 

·        Ransomware

A type of malware that block users from accessing their system until a ransom is paid. It can be done through locking users’ file and/or system’s screen.

 

·        Botnets

A type of malware that infects a number of interconnected devices to perform multiple tasks such as denial-of-service attacks (DDOS), spreading spam, bitcoin mining, clickfraud, and stealing personal and financial information. It is under the control of a botnet operator that runs or controls the C&C (command and control) server(s).

 

·        Ad fraud

Also, called click fraud or click spam, is a practice by bad actors, specifically dubious advertising networks, wherein they deliberately use automated programs—from simple to sophisticated bots and botnets—to interact with advertisements online.

 

·        Adware

Software designed to display or download unwanted advertisements such as banners automatically when the program is running.

 

·        Android malware

A malicious software that infects mobile phones which are run under Android operating systems through making the system collapse or confidential information leakage.

 

1 Please see appendix for full figures