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Spyware attacks majority of Vietnamese Internet users

Spyware attacks majority of Vietnamese Internet users

Wednesday, October 30, 2013, 14:09 GMT+7

Even the email addresses of the ministries of public security and national defense have been affected by spyware recently, and in turn, have spread the malicious software themselves.

Spyware has hit most Vietnamese Internet users by exploiting a security hole of the popular software suite Microsoft Office, experts said at the WhiteHat 2013 conference, which gathered white hat hackers—those who hack to help rather than hurt—in Hanoi on Tuesday.

Vu Ngoc Son, deputy chairman of research and development of security firm Bkav, said the software vulnerability is coded MS12-027, which exists in all of the available Office versions.

Son attributed the negligence of Microsoft programmers to the bug.

He also said hackers have taken advantage of this security hole to directly target Vietnamese Internet users. The most common attack channel is via Office files attached in emails.

Some 51 percent of the spyware have been spread via Word files, and the respective figures for Excel and PowerPoint are 30 percent and 19 percent, Son said, citing Bkav statistics.

He pressed that such attacks are rising at an alarming rate and have caused severe impacts.

“Almost all organizations and agencies of all kinds have fallen victim to the spyware,” he said.

Most remarkably, those affected include “emails of the ministries of public security and national defense, and several universities and research institutes,” he said.

A Bkav survey indicates that 2,405 websites of local agencies and businesses have undergone cyber attacks so far this year.

Meanwhile, Vietnamese Internet users have lost some VND8 trillion due to spyware, malware, and viruses.

Even so, the country lacks online security experts and a specialized force to prevent and fight against these cyber attacks, the internet security firm noted.

At the conference, Bkav also unveiled its WhiteHat.vn forum, in a bid to provide a community for online security experts to exchange experiences.

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