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NZ fares well in Microsoft's Security Intelligence Report - but threats still lurk

By Sara Barker
Tue 10 Oct 2017
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Microsoft’s latest Security Intelligence Report has shown that New Zealand has fared relatively well in avoiding malware, performing well under the global rate.

The report analyses data collected between January and March 2017 from administrators who have opted to share information from Microsoft security programs and services running on their computers.

Compared to the worldwide encounter rate of 7.8%, only 3.1% of New Zealand computers encountered malware, the report says.

However that 3.1% encounter rate comprised a number of malicious software including Trojans, downloaders and droppers and other malware.

Trojans dominated both the New Zealand and worldwide threat landscape in March, hitting 3.09% of all New Zealand computers, up from 2.45% in February. The worldwide threat encounter rate hit more than 6%.

0.52% of all New Zealand computers encountered downloaders and droppers, also an increase from February’s rate of 0.41%. Unclassified malware was encountered by 0.41% of all computers, up 0.01% from February.

The top malicious families by encounter rate are as follows:

  • Win32/Skeeyah (Trojan) - 0.59%
  • Win32/Vigorf (Trojan) - 0.39%
  • Win32/Fuery (Trojan) - 0.32%
  •  Win32/Spursint (Trojan) - 0.31%
  • Win32/Dynamer (Trojan) - 0.26%
  • Win32/Swrort (Trojan) - 0.13%
  • Win32/Vigram (Trojan) - 0.12%
  • Win32/Rundas (Trojan) - 0.12%
  • Win32/Xadupi (Trojan) - 0.11%
  • Win32/Xorer (Virus) - 0.11%

Microsoft says Win32/Skeeyah and Win32/Vigorf are a generic detection for threats that display Trojan characteristics. Win32/Fuery is a cloud-based detection for files for files that have been automatically labelled malicious by Windows Defender.

In terms of unwanted software, New Zealand computers took a hit from browser modifiers, which were encountered by 0.94% of all computers. The global statistics peak at around 1.6%. Software bundlers were encountered by 0.44% of all computers and adware was encountered by 0.15% of all computers, down from 0.18% in February.

The top five unwanted software families by encounter rate are as follows:

  • Win32/Foxiebro (Browser Modifier) - 0.43%
  • Win32/Sasquor (Browser Modifier) -  0.10%
  •  Win32/KipodToolsCby (Browser Modifier) -  0.09%
  • Win32/Adposhel (Adware) - 0.08%
  • Win32/ICLoader (Software Bundler) - 0.07%

Win32/Foxiebro is a browser modifier that can inject ads to search results pages, modify web pages to insert ads and open ads in new tabs.

Win32/Sasquor is a browser modifier that modifies search and homepage settings, installs services and tasks and can install malware such as Win32/SupTab and Win32/Xadupi.

Win32/KipodToolsCby is a browser modified that installs browser add-ons without a user’s consent.

Overall, New Zealand users were also exposed to a lower rate of malicious websites that have been compromised by malware, SQL injection or other techniques.

There were approximately 0.02 drive-by download pages for every 1000 URLs – far lower than the worldwide rate of 0.17.

There were 4.9 phishing sites per 1000 internet hosts encountered in New Zealand, slightly lower than the worldwide rate of 6.3.

There were also 7.8 malware hosting sites per 1000 internet hosts spotted in New Zealand, almost half the worldwide rate of 14.8.

Overall, 90% of New Zealand computers were protected by real-time security software in March 2017, slightly higher than global use. This only takes into account opt-in telemetry data.

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