UR-Hell as Kiwis click over 2.3 million malicious links in 2014…

New Zealanders clicked on over 2.3 million malicious links in the first quarter of 2014, as revealed in Trend Micro’s Q1 Security Roundup Report.

Ranking it sixth in the world for users who accessed malicious links, Australians clicked on almost 27 million malicious links in the first quarter of 2014.

Malware continued its prevalence in Q1, with the number of malware detections in Australia hitting more than 10.5 million over the quarter, and 1.2 million malware detections in New Zealand for the same period.

Trend Micro threat researchers also found that online banking malware continued to thrive with the emergence and modification of new malware families, each with different targets and varying anti-detection techniques.

Australia was ranked one of the ten countries most affected by online banking malware, with 3% of the world’s online banking malware.

Continuing to grow for the past five years is the number of mobile malware and high-risk apps, which has hit two million since the introduction of the Android platform.

“This year’s first quarterly report sheds light into the cyber underground where creative cybercriminals continue to find new opportunities to commit crime,” says Sanjay Mehta, managing director, Trend Micro ANZ.

“To remain protected against these ever-evolving cyber threats, Australians and New Zealanders must be diligent in using best practices when surfing the Web, especially when conducting online financial transactions.”

Australia was fifth in the top 10 malicious URL sources by country, with nearly four million malicious URLs found hosted throughout the quarter with the country also tenth on the list of countries with the most number of botnet C&C servers identified in Q1.

Key first quarter findings include:

· Mobile threats:

The mobile threat landscape continues to grow at an even faster pace than last year as the total number of mobile malware and high-risk apps grew to 2 million this quarter.

The explosion of repackaged apps—those that have been maliciously tampered with to pass Android’s’ security features—also contributed to the huge spike in mobile malware and high-risk app volume growth.

· Cybercrime and the cybercriminal underground:

This quarter’s online banking malware volume significantly dropped from the end of 2013.

This year’s first quarter number did not differ much from the same timeframe one year ago, and the high numbers at the close of last year could be attributed to the holiday season when cybercriminals pursue online shoppers.

· Targeted attack campaigns and cyber attacks:

Reports of PoS system infiltration in the United States, particularly in retail and hospitality, as well as insider threats targeting South Korean credit card companies highlighted the need for customised defense strategies both overseas and locally in Australia and New Zealand.

· Digital life and the Internet of Everything:

A new-generation of exploits took the app ecosystem by storm this quarter. These apps cater to users’ desire to anonymously share content, send off-the-record messages, and share media.

Along with observing more social engineering scams, several devices in the Internet of Everything (IoE) market were scrutinised, as security researchers exposed gaping vulnerabilities.

“Organisations continued to struggle with attacks that were targeted in nature, which could be directly aimed at the energy, financial, healthcare, and retail industries or critical infrastructure,” Mehta adds.

“It came down to a simple equation—high-value targets that promised massive payouts were compromised despite the determined efforts of organisations to protect their valuable information.”

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