Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

Where in the world are you most likely to be hit by a malicious computer attack or virus? According to Internet Security company AVG Technologies, it’s the Caucasus region, with web surfers in Turkey, Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan all being the most likely to face threats while online.

However, at the other end of the scale, some of the world’s safest surfers can be found in Japan and Taiwan, while seven of the 10 safest countries in which to surf the Internet are in Africa. As a continent, South America was ‘safest’, and North America ‘riskiest’. Meanwhile, globally your chances of being attacked while online on any given day are 1 in 73.

By compiling data for 144 countries (including Australia and New Zealand), involving 127 million PCs, AVG was able to look at the incidence of security threats that its software had to deal with in the last week of July 2010. From these figures, AVG was able to average out the likelihood of the average web user facing a web security attack. Key results are as follows:

  • Turkey leads the league table for the world’s riskiest web surfers, with AVG’s software having to step in to protect one in 10 using the Internet. Web users in Russia (1 in 14 were hit), Armenia (1 in 24), and Azerbaijan (1 in 39) also suffer high rates of attacks.
  • Other areas where web surfers are disproportionately at risk include Bangladesh (1 in 41), Pakistan (1 in 48) and in SE Asia, Vietnam and Laos (where the chances of facing an attack are both 1 in 42).
  • Closer to home Australia ranked 37th (1 in 75 attack ratio), while New Zealand came in at 63rd (1 in 103).
  • What about other major Western countries? The US is at number nine when it comes to the riskiest places to go online (1 in 48), UK is ranked 31st (1 in 63), while German web surfers come in at number 41 (1 in 83).
  • However, other major developed nations fared much better with web surfers steering clear of suspicious websites. Though Sierra Leone (1 in 692) and Niger (1 in 442) were ‘safer’, if you look at broadband penetration in these countries as well as overall Internet use, surfing the web in Japan (1 in 404 attacked) arguably offers the safest experience.
  • Meanwhile Taiwan (1 in 248 attacked), Argentina (1 in 241 attacked), and France (1 in 224 attacked) all came in the top 20 list of the world’s safest surfers.

South America and Africa ‘Safe’

Analysing the data by continent, your chances of getting attacked while surfing the web in North America are 1 in 51. In Europe it is 1 in 72, while in Asia (including Asia Pacific) it is 1 in 102. The safest continents are Africa (1 in 108), and by a long way South America (1 in 164).

While African countries make up seven of the top 10 ‘safe surfing’ list, it’s noteworthy that the chances of being attacked in all South American countries is more than 1 in 100. The ‘riskiest’ country in South America was Peru at 1 in 131, which globally still only ranks 78th out of 142 countries.

AVG Urges Travellers to Keep Safe

According to AVG spokesperson, Roger Thomson, “This research tells us a lot about the typical behaviour of web surfers worldwide. Internet users in Turkey, Russia and some Central Asian countries, the Caucasus, South-east Asian and Indian sub-continent states show disproportionately higher rates of being attacked than the global average of 1 in 73.

“Some of this may be a tendency to access semi-legal or illegal download sites, while some of it probably is down to being less cautious when it comes to sharing links and files online. For example, it’s worth noting that in Japan where both Internet use and broadband penetration are high, AVG software only picked up a web attack for every 403rd user. Awareness levels in Japan about risky behaviour online are probably higher.

“However, our research should also serve as a wake-up call to people going abroad. Very often you may access your files on a computer that doesn’t belong to you, or you may access a shared network - neither of which incidentally are things we would ever recommend.

“In those cases, we would urge that web users exercise caution, not only when it comes to going online in our top 50 risk list, but in general.

“Finally the key point is that all these web attacks were successfully caught and stopped by AVG. Even the global average of facing a 1 in 133 attack on any given day does not present great odds if averaged out across a year. Hence the importance of making sure that your computer really does have the right anti-virus software installed,” Thomson concluded.

Methodology

AVG looked at the number of Internet attacks worldwide for the final week of July 2010, as well as the number of AVG installs per country. From this, AVG was able to work out the chances of the average web surfer being attacked.

The research involved taking data from 127 million AVG installations across 144 countries.

Risky Surfers - the Top Ten List
(the chances of getting attacked, 1 in X)

1 - Turkey 1 in 10
2 - Russia 1 in 15
3 - Armenia 1 in 24
4 - Azerbaijan 1 in 39
5 - Bangladesh 1 in 41
6 - Laos 1 in 42
7 - Vietnam 1 in 42
8 - Portugal 1 in 43
9 - USA 1 in 48
10 - Ukraine 1 in 48
10 -Pakistan 1 in 48

Safe Surfers - the Top Ten List

1 - Sierra Leone 1 in 696
2 - Niger 1 in 442
3 - Japan 1 in 403
4 - Togo 1 in 359
5 - Namibia 1 in 353
6 - Belize 1 in 302
7 - Madagascar 1 in 283
8 - Mozambique 1 in 264
9 – Zambia 1 in 262
10 - Slovakia 1 in 254

What Are the Chances of Getting Attacked, By Continent

Globally - 1 in 73
North America - 1 in 51
Europe - 1 in 72
Asia (including Asia Pacific) - 1 in 102
Africa - 1 in 108
S America - 1 in 164

Quick Tips to Stay Secure While You’re Travelling

Security Settings:
Make sure your system is updated with robust anti-virus software that includes a real-time web scanner, firewall and e-mail protection.

Ensure that you clean your devices of any spyware and malware before every trip and periodically do so even during the visit. This will reduce the risks of attacks in unsecure zones.

Guarantee that the security settings (including firewall settings) on your devices are set on high and on maximum prevention.

Wi-fi and High Speed Internet Zones:
Be very careful what information you share in public locations. Even seemingly innocuous logins to Web-mail accounts could give hackers access to get into your more important data, especially if you're like most people and use the same password – maybe with a few variants - for almost all of your online accounts.

Turn off shared folders. If you unwittingly connect to a malicious network, a hacker could easily transfer a malicious spyware agent onto your machine that could follow you and track your online activities even after you leave the public location.

When at hotels, airports or restaurants make sure you use the secure connections offered by them.

As far as possible, while travelling, avoid logging in to any financial websites or using your credit cards to conduct any transactions online especially when in Wi-Fi zones.

Data on Your Device:
Ensure your laptops and PDAs are protected using hard drive password locking systems. Another effective tip to avoid outsiders from accessing your personal files is enabling screen-saver passwords. This will ensure that even if someone gets hold of your devices, they won’t be able to access any information and data.

Ensure that you create back-ups of all your work and personal data that you have on your devices before your expedition and keep it in a safe and secure place.

Physical Theft:
Avoid carrying written copies of passwords, credit card numbers and other PINs, which can easily be lost or stolen and fall into the wrong hands.

Use locks, combinations, chains and other devices to avoid thefts.

Avoid saving any personal data or confidential data on your laptop, mobile phone or PDAs so that the information doesn’t fall into the hands of criminals in case of thefts.

If your laptop, phone or other portable device is stolen, make sure that you report the theft to the local police.

AVG (AU/NZ) has a comprehensive range of security tips on its web site at http://www.avg.com.au/resources/security-tips/.

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Keywords

AVG, Internet, cyber-crime

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