THE Philippines is among the countries where computer users face the biggest risk of both online viral infections and local threats, said a recent study by Kaspersky Lab.
It said that about 6.1 billion threats were detected and neutralized by Kaspersky Lab products from November 2013 to October 2014. Kaspersky Lab is a developer of secure content and threat management systems.
According to the Kaspersky Security Bulletin 2014, during the period, there were 1.4 billion attacks launched from online resources located in various countries around the world that were blocked by Kaspersky Lab solutions.
To assess the countries in which users most often face cyber threats, Kaspersky Lab calculated how often its users encountered detection verdicts on their machines in each country.
The resulting data characterizes the risk of infection that computers are exposed to in various countries, providing an indicator of the aggressiveness of the environment facing computers in different parts of the world.
Topping the list was Russia, where 53.81 percent of users faced the risk of online infection. It was followed by Kazakhstan, 53.04 percent, and last year’s leader, Azerbaijan, 49.64 percent.
The 20 countries are divided into three groups expressing different levels of infection risk. The high-risk group, in which over 41 percent of users per country faced the greatest risk of web-based attacks, included nine nations from the top 20.
In the risk group, 21 to 40 percent of users per country were exposed to online infection. This group included 111 nations including the Philippines with 27.2 percent, and some of its Asian neighbors such as China with 30.1 percent and Japan with 21.2 percent.
The low-risk group, which is zero percent 20.9 percent, included 39 countries with the safest online surfing environments such as Sweden with 19.5 percent, Denmark with 19.2 percent, Uruguay with 19.5 percent and a number of African countries.
Kaspersky Lab found out that in 2014, 38.3 percent of computers were subjected to at least one web attack while their owners were online. The main attack method—via exploit packs—gives attackers an almost guaranteed opportunity to infect the user computer if it is not protected with a security solution and if it has at least one popular and vulnerable or not updated application installed.
However, the number of attacks using exploit packs slightly decreased. On average, the risk of being infected while surfing the Internet went down by 3.3 percentage points over the year.
“Computer users should still keep their guards up despite the slight decline of online attacks. Web-based infections remain a dominant threat to users’ privacy; as well as their personal and financial data if their computers are unprotected, ” Jimmy Fong, Channel Sales Director of Kaspersky Lab Southeast Asia said.
Besides figures on online threats, Fong said local infection statistics for user computers are also a very important indicator. Local infection pertains to threats that have penetrated the computer’s operating system through something other than the Internet, email, or network ports.
For each country, Kaspersky Lab calculated the number of file antivirus detections the users faced in 2014.
The data includes detections of malicious programs located on users’ computers or on removable media connected to the computers, such as flash drives, camera and phone memory cards, or external hard drives.
“Kaspersky Lab found that local infections are rife in Southeast Asia. A number of countries in the region such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar were listed as among the countries where users most often face security threats that were not obtained through the Internet,” said Fong.
The top four countries at risk of local infection remained largely unchanged from the previous year: Vietnam ranked first followed by Mongolia, Nepal and Bangladesh.
The countries can be further divided into four risk categories for local threats. The top four nations belong to the maximum risk, wherein over 60 percent of users in a country faced the risk of local infection.
In the high-risk category, 41 to 60 percent of users were at risk. Included in this group were Asian countries like the Philippines with 48.4 percent, China with 49.7 percent and India with 56 percent.
Belonging to the moderate local infection rate category were 70 countries including the Philippines’ neighbors such as Hong Kong with 30.4 percent, Singapore with 23.5 percent and Japan with 22.9 percent.
Finally, the low local infection rate category included only three countries: Finland, Cuba and Seychelles