HK is 2nd top for e-mail cyberattacks, report says

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 November, 2011, 12:00am

Hong Kong was the world's second biggest target for e-mail cyberattacks last month, a new report says.

One in every 180 e-mails that landed in the city's inboxes last month carried malware, which refers to malicious code in the form of a virus, trojan or worm, said the study by the United States-based internet security firm Symantec.

Hong Kong was just behind Britain, where one in every 146 was infected with a dangerous code.

The malware will typically be hidden in an attachment, such as an advert or catalogue, and small and medium-sized businesses were most at risk, the report said.

With the main holiday season coming, the cyberattacks could get worse as global scammers send out e-mails with seasonal themes that might lure more people in, said Harry Pun, client services manager North Asia for Symantec.cloud.

'This number is quite alarming,' he said. 'It's higher than the global rate of one in 235, which means we are in a very high-risk zone.

'Over the past three years, the virus rate has been higher in October and November than the other quarters. Christmas is coming and also Thanksgiving so there are chances for cyberattackers to use an e-mail attachment that pretends to be a menu or a holiday package.'

An increase in Chinese-language spam means that Hong Kong is suffering a two-pronged attack; it is this that has seen the city rise up the global spam rankings. 'We are a multilingual city so it raises the chance of being attacked,' Pun said.

'In Hong Kong, the majority [attacked] will be the small to medium businesses as well as retailers like traders or merchants because they rely on e-mail communications.'

Pun said that while the number of malware e-mails in Hong Kong was generally lower than the global average, local businesses should still take caution. 'As a regional financial centre, scammers know there is money to be made in Hong Kong,' he said.

'And, as an international city on the doorstep of China, Hong Kong gets all the English spam as well as increasing amounts of Chinese-language spam. Hong Kong is and will continue to be an attractive target.

'Enterprises and individuals should consider carefully whether they are equipped to deal with the evolving threat.'

2,000

At least this many items of malware have targeted smartphones, says the Hong Kong Computer Emergency Response Team

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