Japan's banking malware surge pushes Australia out of top 10

Australians may be getting smarter about banking scams after new figures from Trend Micro saw the country fall out of list of the top 10 countries most affected by banking malware.

The vendor's Q2 2014 Security Roundup: Turning the Tables on Cyber Attacks found that Japan was by far the country most susceptible to theft of banking information, with 24 percent of infections noted during the quarter.

The United States (14 percent), India (7 percent), Brazil (7 percent) and Vietnam (5 percent) rounded out the list of the five most-affected countries.

Australia, France, and Mexico all dropped out of the top 10 after showings in previous surveys, suggesting that each country accounts for less than 2 percent (the attack rate for tenth-place Italy) of banking malware attacks.

Japan's surge to the top of the list came as a result of the VAWTRAK backdoor, which has targeted its information-stealing capabilities on the Japanese market and was catalogued in a botnet-tracking effort that records the use of illegitimate SSL certificates to hide botnets' activities.

Banking botnets weren't the only ongoing threat noted in the Trend Micro appraisal, with the Heartbleed OpenSSL bug continuing to generate its own share of heartaches. Trend Micro noted that none of 25 Java 6 vulnerabilities identified during the quarter – 14 of which were high severity – had been patched while 19 new critical and 5 new important Windows XP vulnerabilities remained unpatched.

Increasing collaboration between vendors and authorities produced a series of law-enforcement victories during the quarter. Trend Micro was claiming success in partnerships with police in Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and elsewhere as authorities clamped down on botnets and individual malware authors.

“Disclosing our research findings to affected organizations in order to prevent financial losses due to cybercrime has proven effective,” the report says, noting that Trend Micro supported an FBI takedown effort of the 'GameOver' ZeuS/ZBOT variant that ultimately drove a 36 percent decline in affected users at the end of the quarter.

Trend Micro maintains a dedicated e-crime unit, called the Forward-Looking Threat Research (FTR) Team that supports authorities with the provision of investigation skills and sharing of threat-intelligence data.

Read more: New banking malware 'Kronos' advertised on underground forums

“We are always happy to work with any law enforcement agency,” senior director of threat research Martin Rösler wrote in the report, “because we believe that only through collaboration can we truly make the world a safer place for the exchange of information.”

This article is brought to you by Enex TestLab, content directors for CSO Australia.

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