According to findings from the Microsoft Security Intelligence Report, Volume 21, Asia Pacific’s emerging markets were also among the most vulnerable to malware threats
The Microsoft SIR, Volume 21, covers threat data from the first half of 2016, based on analysis of threat information from over a billion systems worldwide. Also included are longer term trend data and detailed threat profiles for over 100 individual markets and regions.
Singapore, as with markets in Asia Pacific with higher levels of IT maturity such as Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea, displayed malware encounter rates that are below the worldwide average. In particular, malware encounter rates in Singapore during the second quarter of 2016 stood at 19.4 percent, almost two percentage points lower than the worldwide average.
When compared with countries such as Vietnam and Indonesia, where malware encounter rate is more than 45 percent in the second quarter of 2016, these numbers highlighted the diverse cybersecurity landscape in the region. With a malware encounter rate that is more than double the worldwide average of over 21 percent during the same period, Vietnam and Indonesia are also among the top five locations across the globe most at risk of infection.
Below are some of the key regional and Singapore findings from the Microsoft SIR, Volume 21:
Top Markets in the Asia Pacific under Malware Threats:
Top Encountered Malware Categories in Singapore
The report showed that the top most encountered malicious software categories in Singapore include:
- Trojans, the most common type of malware that relies on the user to run them on your PC by mistake, or to visit a malicious webpage.
- Worms, a type of malware that spreads by copying themselves to other PCs through a PC network by exploiting security vulnerabilities.
- Downloaders and Droppers, a type of malware that installs other malicious files, including malware, onto your PC. It can download the files from a remote PC or install them directly from a copy that is included in its file.
Top Encountered Malware in Singapore
The report showed that the top most encountered malicious software families in Singapore include:
- Dynamer, a trojan which can steal personal information, download more malware or give hackers access to computers.
- Spursint, a trojan which can steal personal information, download more malware or give hackers access to computers.
- Xadupi, a trojan that is often installed by Sasquor or Suptab under the name “WinZipper”, “QkSee” or both, posing as a useful application but silently downloads and installs other malware.
Keshav Dhakad, Regional Director, Digital Crimes Unit (DCU), Microsoft Asia, said, “With increasing malware encounters and sophistication of cyberattacks, cybersecurity is becoming a mission critical priority for most organisations. It generally takes an average up to 200 days for organisations to find out that they have been breached. With no sign of abatement in the future, what companies need is a Secure Modern Enterprise posture, which involves well-integrated “Protect-Detect-Respond” investments and capabilities, with a strategic focus on the core pillars – Identity, Apps, Data, Infrastructure and Devices. Additionally, organisations should also strongly consider adopting trusted cloud-based services to enjoy the highest levels of data protection, leveraging the cloud provider’s enterprise-grade security and privacy expertise, assurances and certifications.”
Security teams should also keep abreast of changes in the threat landscape brought about by emergence of cloud computing. The latest report contains an expanded Featured Intelligence section that includes a deep dive section onProtecting cloud infrastructure: detecting and mitigating threats using Azure Security Center. This section details new threats that organisations may encounter and explains how they can use Azure Security Center to protect, detect, and respond to security threats against Azure cloud-based resources. Some of the new cloud-targeted threats outlined are:
- Pivot back attacks, which occurs when an attacker compromises a public cloud resource to obtain information that they then use to attack the resource provider’s on-premises environment
- “Man in the Cloud” attacks, in which an attacker induces a prospective victim to install a piece of malware using a typical mechanism, such as an email with a link to a malicious website. It then switches out the user’s cloud storage synchronisation token with the attacker’s token, allowing the attacker to receive copies of each file the user places in cloud storage. This effectively makes the attacker a “man in the middle” for cloud storage.
- Side-channel attacks, where an attacker attempts to put a virtual machine on the same physical server as the intended victim. If he succeeds, the attacker will be able to launch local attacks against the victim. These attacks might include local DDoS, network sniffing, and man-in-the-middle attacks, all of which can be used to extract information.
- Resource ransom, where attackers hold cloud resource hostage by breaking into and controlling public cloud account, and then requiring the victim to pay a ransom to release encrypted or restricted resources.
Organisations need to ensure they have a robust cybersecurity posture to withstand and respond effectively to most cyberattacks and malware infections. Five best practices for improving defence against cybersecurity threats are:
- Ensure strong fundamentals: Use only genuine, current and updated software. The usage of IT assets which are old, unprotected, or are non-genuine in nature, substantially increase the chances for a cyberattack. For example, pirated and counterfeit software are known to come with embedded malware infections.
- Focus on cyber hygiene: Poor cyber hygiene of IT users, negligent employee behaviour or weak credentials/password protection within an organisation, adds a high degree of vulnerability for system compromise. With more and more personal devices being used at the workplace, the higher the chance they are infected.
- Have a data culture: Develop a big data analytics culture involving data classification, multifactor authentication, encryption, rights management, machine learning for behavioural analytics and log analytics to spot user anomalies and irregular or suspicious patterns, which could provide potential clues in advance to prevent impending or ongoing security breaches.
- Invest in a robust cyber defence ecosystem and monitor all systems in real time: Invest in trusted security solutions and modern threat protection technologies to monitor, detect and remove common and advanced cyber threats in real time, while developing in-house expertise to undertake threat analytics.
- Regular assessment, review and audit: Be comprehensive on all aspects of cybersecurity, not just technology. Have a IT trusted supply chain across cloud, software, hardware, Internet of Things, BYOD (bring your own device) and regularly review and assess cybersecurity investments and performance of both software and hardware deployment, including customer and vendor access to the corporate network.
Resources like the Security Intelligence Report are just one aspect of the Microsoft comprehensive approach to security – including a holistic platform, unique intelligence and broad partnerships – which is critical to enabling the digital transformation of leading organisations in Asia.
As part of Microsoft’s commitment to building trust in technology in the region, it launched its first combined Transparency Center and Cybersecurity Center in October 2016. Located in Singapore, the joint facility brings together Microsoft capabilities in a single location in Asia Pacific, to serve the security needs of the public and private sector and foster the building of a trusted and secure computing environment.
To download and learn more about the Microsoft Security Intelligence Report findings, visit and the Microsoft Secure Blog
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