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NZ business facing higher risk of PC malware attacks

By Shannon Williams, Fri 13 Aug 2021

New Zealand businesses are facing a higher risk than businesses in Australia, the UK and the United States of PC malware attacks, a new report has revealed. 

Digital security and privacy firm Avast has revealed that the overall chance of business users encountering a cyberthreat has increased worldwide year over year by 24%, from 11.25% to 13.9%. This insight is part of Avast's latest Global PC Risk Report, looking at PC threats Avast blocked in March and April 2021, and the same timeframe in 2020.

The report also shows that in New Zealand, the likelihood of a business user encountering any type of PC malware is 13.29%. Compared to the global average, New Zealand business users have a slightly lower risk of encountering all types of PC threats, but have a higher risk than business users in Sweden (7.75%), Germany (10.03%), Switzerland (10.32%), Ireland (10.58%), United States (11.00%), United Kingdom (11.08%) and Australia (11.58%).

"In the pandemic, enabling the staff to work from home at such short notice has posed serious challenges to business security," says Michal Salat, director of threat intelligence at Avast.

"Not every company was prepared with secure business VPNs and remote access solutions, and cybercriminals have taken advantage of this," he says.

"We observed an increased abuse of the remote desktop protocol, and specifically have seen ransomware attacks become more prevalent. 

"Overall, the risk ratio of businesses encountering malware attacks has increased worldwide."

The report also looks into the risk of advanced threats hitting businesses. Avast defines more sophisticated or threats never seen before as advanced threats, designed to bypass common protection technologies included in security software, such as signatures, heuristics, emulators, URL filtering, and email scanning. 

For this type of threat, global business users in the reported timeframe had a 2.29% risk ratio and New Zealand business users had a 2.13% risk ratio, with New Zealand being a higher risk country than Sweden (1.16%), Dominican Republic (1.41%), Singapore (1.55%), Australia (1.61%) and Germany (1.91%). 

The Global Scenario

Geographies with more conflictive socio-political situations seem to be facing more risk in the online world as well. Asian countries are among the top countries where businesses are most at risk, followed by Africa and Eastern Europe.

The top countries in which business users are most at risk of encountering threats are:

  • Armenia (39.75%)
  • China (35.66%)
  • Vietnam (35.48%)
  • The Republic of Korea (32.61%)
  • United Republic of Tanzania (30.98%)
  • Croatia (30.02%)
  • Bangladesh (29.89%)
  • Taiwan (29.25%)
  • Indonesia (29.21%)
  • Hong Kong (29.09%)
  • Armenia (18.75%)
  • Vietnam (17.82%)
  • China (8.85%)
  • Bangladesh (8.35%)
  • Slovenia (8.15%)
  • The Republic of Korea (7.10%)
  • Ghana (6.17%)
  • United Republic of Tanzania (5.54%)
  • The Philippines (4.57%)
  • Nigeria (4.44%)
     

For all types of threats, the geographies with the lowest risk were the Nordics, Western and Central European countries, in addition to the United States, Latvia and the Dominican Republic. This changes when looking at advanced threats, where the common denominator seems to be the size of the countries with populations smaller than 11 million.

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