One in five businesses faces Web threats daily: Deakin Uni study

One in five Australian businesses – and one in eight businesses in New Zealand – is exposed to Web-borne security threats every working day, according to new analysis from the ongoing security analytics partnership between Deakin University and security vendor Trend Micro.

The latest statistics, contained in the most recent Australia and New Zealand Web Threat Landscape report, analysed Web activity from 29 September to 12 October and found that overall traffic during the period included 2.5 billion Australian Web transactions and 300 million New Zealand transactions.

Some 12.16 per cent of all Australian Web surfers were exposed to Web threats on a typical weekday, dropping to 11.67 per cent on the weekend. This level, according to the analysis, made Australia one of the safest countries for Web surfing: Denmark (14.99 per cent), Great Britain (15.59 per cent), the United States (17.87 per cent), and France (18.62 per cent) were the four highest sources of Web-threat victims.

Just 5.73 per cent of Japanese Web surfers, by contrast, were exposed to Web threats in the Deakin analysis.

The ongoing research began in April and has partnered Christopher Ke, Jonathan Oliver and Yang Xiang with Trend Micro, whose cloud-based threat scanning service has provided the researchers with a wealth of detailed information about the Web-borne threats the vendor deals with on a regular basis through its Web Reputation Services (WRS) and Smart Protection Network (SPN) capabilities.

That data confirmed a close correlation between the patterns, if not the quantities, of Web threats between Australian and New Zealand users, with both countries seeing “disproportionate” jumps on the weekends and users overall having “very much similar patterns of Internet usage”.

When business users were filtered from the traffic, the situation worsened considerably: fully 1 in 4.77 (21 per cent) of business-registered IP addresses was exposed to Web threats on weekdays, placing Australia “the most dangerous among all the countries” in the survey's ranking.

Some 1 in 7.70 (13 per cent) of New Zealand business users, by contrast, were exposed to Web threats on weekdays – suggesting a much safer Web environment overall, or more cautious users.

The report recognised potential collection bias, including the possibility that business users were aggregating the activities of more than one employee through the same IP address. Other potential errors mentioned include the possibility that business users are more willing to take risks, or that Australian businesses are attracting more cyber-criminal activity than Australian consumers or all users in other countries.

The survey also identified that some 9000 Australian IP addresses and 500 New Zealand IPs were hosting malicious content, serving it up in response to requests from online users.

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