​Vietnam ‘fertile ground’ for malicious software: experts

Over 60 million computers in Vietnam are infected with malicious software each year

Experts discuss tactics to prevent and combat malware infections in Vietnam at the seminar in Hanoi on June 11, 2018. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Vietnam consistently ranks near the top of countries with the highest malware infection rates, making it a ‘fertile ground’ for cybercrime, experts said at a seminar in Hanoi on Monday.

The seminar, held to discuss the prevention and elimination of malicious software affecting Vietnam, was organized under the direction of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and hosted by several experts from the Authority of Information Security (AIS).

“Over 60 million computers in Vietnam are infected with malware each year,” said Vu Ngoc Son, deputy head of the Anti Malware division at Bkav, a Hanoi-based network security and software firm.

The most common malware programs are those used by hackers to mine cryptocurrencies, encrypt data, steal personal information, spread viruses via USB drives, and launch APT (advanced persistent threat) attacks.

Bkav announced on June 5 that there are more than 1.2 million computers in Vietnam currently infected with the W32.XFileUSB virus – a bug that can completely wipe the data from a user’s USB drive. 

The company also disclosed that over 735,000 computers in the country were recently infected with a cryptocurrency-mining virus.

The firm’s calculation also showed that the damage caused by computer viruses has been rapidly increasing over the past few years, with an estimated loss of VND8.5 trillion (US$374.45 million) in 2014, VND8.7 trillion ($383.26 million) in 2015, VND10.4 trillion ($458.15 million) in 2016, and VND12.3 trillion ($541.85 million) in 2017.

According to AIS, in the first five months of the year nearly 19.6 million Vietnamese IP (Internet Protocol) addresses were mobilized for botnets used by hackers.

A botnet is a network of private computers infected with malicious software and controlled as a group without the owners' knowledge.

The high rate of malware infections in Vietnam is mainly attributed to the low rate of using copyrighted software, including anti-virus programs, and buying the wrong version of an anti-virus program instead of purchasing Internet security licenses, according Nguyen Thanh Hai, general director of AIS.

Son, the deputy head from Bkav, also shared that vast numbers of Vietnamese computer users rarely update their software to patch security holes and up to 40 percent of computers in Vietnam face SMB- (Server Message Block) related issues.

“Computer security in Vietnam is complicated,” Hai said.

“It requires organizations and individuals to take drastic action to ensure information security for themselves as well for the national system,” he concluded.

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