Malaysia less susceptible to malware than emerging economies in APAC Malwarebytes

May 26, 2017 -

Malwarebytes™, 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.

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.

2.) 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.

3.) 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 less detections than the fourth ranked country, Thailand.

4.) 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.

5.) 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.

6.) 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.”