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Borders matter when it comes to malware

Despite open borders, regional variations persist when it comes to malware distribution – and demonstrating good security habits. Take a five-country boost to your security on Safer Internet Day.

Is the distribution of malware influenced by borders?

Geography plays a continuing role in determining what types of malware people are exposed to but these country differences show good security practices have no borders. That’s a good thing to keep in mind on Safer Internet Day.

A month-long tally of malware attacks showed that people received a different assortment of malware based on their geographic location. Germans were more likely to get an Exploit kits, password stealers are eavesdropping on many Italians, and Americans get more Trojans altering their computers’ Windows operating system.

“While we think of the internet as a border-less phenomena, our data shows there are real and significant differences by country,” said Alexander Vukcevic, Director Avira Virus Labs.  “But if you look at these threats by country and think about what is needed to defend against each of them, you can get a good international boost to your security.”

Yes, depending on where you reside, you’ve got a different chance of encountering a HTML/ExpKit.Gen, a WORM/LNK.Verecno.Gen, or a DR/PSW.Delf.Cpm. These technical terms for malware do matter because they explain how each goes about its devious work. And by looking at how each goes to work, they also show what people can do to enhance their online security – regardless of whether they are in Munich, Paris, or Rome.

Security tipCountryMalwareType
1.Don’t forget the basicsUSAW32/Patched.UAAlters OS code
2.Stay updated easily and alwaysDACHHTML/ExpKit.GenExploit kits
3.Open with careItalyDR/PSW.Delf.CpmPassword stealer
4.Don’t be too socialFranceWORM/LNK.Verecno.GenWorm
5.Download carefullyUKPUA/Linkury.GenPotentially Unwanted Applications

Get an international lesson in online security

Here are the five-country security essentials:

  1. Don’t forget the basics (USA) – The continued popularity of malware that injects malicious code in system files, like Win32/Patched does in the United States, shows that classic threats are still going strong. It is critical to have a recognized antivirus app in place on your device to stop incoming threats and identify infected websites. AV may not seem fashionable, but it’s still essential.
  2. Stay updated easily and always (Germany) – Exploit kits look for a long laundry list of vulnerabilities in each computer. HTML/ExpKit.Gen, quite common in Germany, is spread through compromised webpages. Since the exact vulnerability targeted by an Exploit kit can be customized on short notice, the best defense is to keep your device automatically up-to-date with a software updater.
  3. Open with care (Italy) – Emails containing infected links and bogus phishing requests are a traditional, yet very fashionable way to catch unwary internet users. It could be DR/PSW.Delf.Cpm out to steal passwords or it could be the latest ransomware variant. If an email looks suspicious or has an unusual attachment, do a double check of the file with your Avira product or just delete it.
  4. Don’t be so social (France)Using USB memory sticks to transfer files between devices is not risk-free. As a worm, the Verecno can be spread automatically once the memory stick has been inserted into the device. Do you know where that USB stick has been before?
  5. Download carefully (UK) – A Potentially Unwanted Application downloads are not directly dangerous like ransomware, but they can bring in a host of unwanted additional software components like apps, toolbars, and advertisements into the device, slow it down to a crawl, do user profiling and really disrupt the user experience. PUA apps are best avoided by carefully checking default options while downloading apps.

How important are borders when it comes to malware? More than one would think, with location clearly influencing malware types and campaigns. And for personal security after Safer Internet Day is distant history, these national distinctions will remain five internationally valid security tips.

This post is also available in: GermanFrenchItalian

Avira, a company with over 100 million customers and more than 500 employees, is a worldwide leading supplier of self-developed security solutions for professional and private use. With more than 25 years of experience, the company is a pioneer in its field.