Microsoft annouces the findings on computer security in Southeast Asia

February 27, 2013 | 12:28
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Today, Microsoft officially announced the findings of computer security study conducted in five countries in Southeast Asia - Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The total samples of 282 counterfeit DVDs and hardwares from branded computers of Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo and Samsung in the five countries, the study showed 69 per cent of the sample contained high-risk malware infections and viruses. The study extends research originally conducted in December 2012, more than doubling the original sample of 118 units and showing a malware infection rate six points higher than the preliminary study.

1,131 unique strains of malware were also discovered in the expanded sample—up from 403 in the earlier study. Across the region, software infection rates varied significantly: The Philippines sample surfaced the lowest volume of malicious software; at 42 per cent, however, two out of every five computers and DVDs tested was infected. In Vietnam, the study examined 41 computer hard drives and 9 DVDs, and revealed a malware infection rate of 88 per cent — the highest in the region.

The study also found the highly dangerous Zeus Trojan. “Zeus is a password-stealing Trojan known to use ‘key logging’ and other mechanisms to gain access to victims’ identities, private accounts, and other sensitive data. According to the RSA 2012 Cybercrime Trends Report, Zeus is estimated to have caused over $1 billion in global losses in the last five years,” said Vu Minh Tri, Microsoft Vietnam’s country manager.

At the same time, the findings showed Windows firewall rules were changed in 97% of devices, often undetected by anti-virus software. In addition to the malware infection rate of counterfeit software, the fact is well-known brands are not immune: malware was found on computers from Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo and Samsung. Malware infection rates on name-brand devices with counterfeit software installed ranged from a low of 33 per cent to a high of 88 per cent. The malware was likely installed in the downstream supply chain or channel, onto blanked harddisks or as a replacement to the original, non-Windows operating system installed by the manufacturer.

 “This study unveils the dangers associated with pirated software.  Software piracy is not a victimless crime. Unknowing consumers may be used by cybercriminals and the performance of the computers they paid for could be severely impaired,” said Rebecca Ho, IPR director, Microsoft Southeast Asia.
The study has alerted the enterprises and computers consumers in Southeast Asia including Vietnam the high risks of malware infection from branded computers which now safety is not always guaranteed.

According to Vu Ngoc Hoan,  director of Vietnam Copyright Office under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism: “To keep information safe from cybercriminals, people need to think twice about where they buy PCs.  More importantly, they should always check that they are supplied with licenced software.  I am pleased to know that Microsoft has taken proactive steps to look into this area of risks faced by consumers and help raise public awarenss on this important issue. As shown in this study, some unscrupulous retailers in Southeast Asia are selling big name PC brands to consumers with counterfeit, infected software. It’s important to remember, if you don’t know where your digital products come from, you never know what comes along for the ride”

In order to protect ourselves, enterprises and consumers must be vigilant and proactive when making their computer purchase decisions, to be sure they’re getting genuine software. Additional, consumers should buy from trusted resellers only, avoid deals that are ‘too good to be true’ and look for products with original packaging and certificates of authenticity.

Customers who suspect they’ve received pirated or counterfeit software are encouraged to report it at Customers who report suspected violations can provide valuable insights and have a positive impact in the fight against piracy. Microsoft takes every lead seriously in its effort to ensure a safe digital community for all. Since 2007, the company has received more than 10,000 piracy reports from within Southeast Asia—many from people who bought a name-brand PC, paying more money to get “the real thing,” but ending up with far greater risk and liability at the hands of counterfeiters.

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