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APAC malware and botnet threats charge ahead rest of the world

By Sara Barker
Mon 31 Oct 2016
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Fortinet's latest quarterly threat intelligence report has painted a picture of global trends in the cybersecurity sector, showing that malware and botnet threats in the Asia Pacific region are charging ahead more than anywhere else in the world.

Fortinet believes this may connect with the finding that the region is also ranked first in the number of malicious websites visited per day, and the global statistics aren't much better.

The Fortinet Cyber Threat Assessment Program (CTAP) found more than 185 million threat events and incidents, what it's calling 'unprecedented' attack volumes. These threats are escaping traditional perimeter security defences and landing on Fortinet's internal threat testing network.

The report also found that email-based threats continue to be effective means of delivering malicious material, but hijacked websites were the second most common form of attack. More than half of respondents detected malicious websites, which Fortinet says is a sure sign that organisations need detection and blocking protection.

In Australia and New Zealand, the report found that the Nemucod ransomware family was widely targeting the healthcare sector because of its vulnerable nature. Nemucod has been responsible for crippling several healthcare providers' networks in the past year alone and successfully received ransom demands.

Overall, the Asia Pacific region fared worst in the amount of detected botnets and malware, which may have some connection with the number of websites visited per day.

North America is the most vulnerable, with more than 40,000 application vulnerability attacks per day. LATAM's use of peer-to-peer applications contributed to a rise in the H-worm botnet attack. The Conficker worm is the most concerning problem in EMEA.

Remote access policies also contributing to data leakage, particularly in the healthcare industry where patient data and records are at risk, the report found. Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) and TeamViewer account for 25% of remote traffic, as well as general purpose applications such as Dropbox.

Internet browsers are also increasingly at risk, particularly as exploit kits targeting browsers are also on the rise.

In terms of industry sectors, Fortinet states that attackers are using different approaches, depending on market segments of targeted organisations.

The education and retail industries are also being targeted by more variations in cyberattacks because of their less secure networks. Fortinet also found that social media networks used by students also pose security risks through links associated with those platforms.

Globally, the tech sector is seeing an increase in the number of attacks against common enterprise software packages, such as those from Microsoft and Adobe.

The financial industry is bearing the brunt of the ransomware trend, including new and old attacks that have been modified to avoid detection. The healthcare industry has also been struck mainly by the Heartbleed vulnerability, DDoS attacks and code execution malware.

The education sector is being targeted through open source vulnerabilities, application and client-based attacks, suggesting that patching isn't a high priority, Fortinet states. 

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