Malicious software programs, or viruses, caused damage worth nearly US$400 million to Vietnamese computer users last year, a local Internet security firm said Tuesday.
Last year the total damage done by viruses amounted to VND8.5 trillion, or US$396.12 million, Bkav said on its website, citing findings from a survey it conducted last month.
The loss was calculated based on the income of the victims and the amount of time their work was disrupted by malware issues, the Hanoi-based company explained.
The survey found that each computer user in Vietnam lost an average of VND1.23 million ($57) to malicious software in 2014.
“With at least 6.98 million computers in use across the country, the total damage was VND8.5 trillion,” Bkav said, quoting the number of computers from Vietnam’s White Book on informatics, computers, and technology.
Also on Tuesday, Bkav released a brief recap on Internet security in Vietnam in 2014.
The company said 90 percent of mobile phone users in Vietnam are regularly bothered by SMS spam, with 43 percent of them receiving at least an unwanted message a day.
“Spreading SMS spam has really become a ‘black industry’,” Bkav commented.
Mobile phone users also lost as much as VND3.9 billion ($181,750) a day last year as the malware hidden on their devices automatically sent paid messages without their knowledge and consent.
Bkav also warned people of using free Wi-Fi access in big cities for online banking or shopping transactions as their personal information could be stolen by hackers.
“Twenty-four percent of the people surveyed by Bkav said they used online payment and banking services with free Internet connection, which is dangerous because they could lose their bank or credit card accounts,” the company warned.
Viruses that spread via USB devices and fake apps are also threatening Vietnamese users.
Eighty-three percent of computers in Vietnam were infected with viruses spread via thumb drives at least once last year, whereas only 13 percent of the respondents said they paid attention to the makers before downloading their apps, according to the Bkav survey.
The sole bright sign of the picture, the company said, is that more users are aware of security issues than before.
“Forty percent of the respondents said they have had the habit of only opening a file downloaded from the Internet after verifying it with the senders via chat or phone,” Bkav said, adding 73 percent said they often lock their computers when leaving their desks.
As for the outlook for 2015, Bkav said hackers will continue victimizing users with malware and compromise Internet-connected devices.
Cyberattacks using the DDoS method will remain a headache for local webmasters, it added. DDoS, or a distributed denial-of-service attack, is an attempt to make a machine or network resource unavailable to its intended users.
Cyber crime costs the global economy about $445 billion every year, with the damage to business from the theft of intellectual property exceeding the $160 billion loss of individuals because of hacking, according to Reuters, which cited a report published in June 2014 by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Cyber crime was a growth industry that damaged trade, competitiveness and innovation, according to the center.
Established in 1995, Bkav Corporation operates in network security, software, smartphone manufacturing and smart homes, according to its website.
Its founder Nguyen Tu Quang was honored as an Internet security pioneer in Vietnam by newswire VnExpress in 2012.