Microsoft's leading man in the fight against cyber criminals in Asia Pacific says New Zealand's rate of attacks is low compared to other countries in the region, but attacks are still happening constantly.

Over the last week of April, Keshav Dhakad, head of Digital Crimes Unit, recorded one and a half million New Zealand devices infected with malware, or malicious software.

"This whole notion of 'who would target New Zealanders?' is wrong. The internet has no boundaries," Dhakad said.

Microsoft revealed the top countries under malware threats in its Malware Infection Index 2016 and New Zealand ranked 18th out of 19 Asia Pacific markets. Photo / Supplied, Microsoft
Microsoft revealed the top countries under malware threats in its Malware Infection Index 2016 and New Zealand ranked 18th out of 19 Asia Pacific markets. Photo / Supplied, Microsoft

Microsoft revealed the top countries under malware threats in its Malware Infection Index 2016 and New Zealand ranked 18th out of 19 Asia Pacific markets.

Advertisement

The places most affected by cyber threats were developing markets, with Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Nepal topping the table.

Dhakad says despite the positive ranking for New Zealand, businesses and individuals need to remain vigilant against cyber threats.

"Despite New Zealand being a developed market and [cybersecurity] systems are much better placed than in developing markets, cyber crime finds its way in.

"Malware strains are rising and so are the attack vectors."

Microsoft monitored the presence of malware in New Zealand ahead of Dhakad visiting the country to discuss cybersecurity with government agencies and corporations.

The report looked at the breakdown of infected devices by city and showed the highest concentration of malware existing in Auckland, followed by Tauranga and Wellington.

The picture can change very quickly, Dhakad said, as devices are cleaned of the harmful software or upgraded to be more secure and as new malware appears.

"Everyone is under attack, it's a case of whether they've discovered it. I think if everyone was to live with that mentality then they'd be a lot more proactive about investing the right resources and taking the right steps to protect, detect and respond to the attacks."

Dhakad said every person could ensure they are taking steps to be safe on the internet, but enterprises still need to invest in IT infrastructure that could address a cyber attack.

In the case of small to medium enterprises that don't have dedicated IT teams, Dhakad said it was smarter to use secure cloud services..

"Small to medium businesses... don't have the kind of money needed for [cybersecurity], they might as well focus on business growth. So for them it's a no-brainer."

While banks and financial services are most commonly targeted by cyberattacks, telcos, media companies, healthcare and insurance companies have all suffered high profile attacks around the world.

Six tips for cybersecurity:

1. Use only genuine and updated software
2. Use robust and trusted anti-malware solutions
3. Focus on cyber hygiene like managing passwords, how people open links and attachments in emails.
4. Be comprehensive on cybersecurity and business processes.
5. Have a data culture where people manage encryption and multi-factor authentication.
6. Use a cloud provider.

- Sophie Ryan traveled to Singapore for the Microsoft Trust Experience courtesy of Singapore