New Zealand is one of the least affected countries in Asia Pacific when it comes to cyber attacks, but harmful software is circulating around the globe in massive numbers.

Microsoft revealed the top markets in Asia Pacific under malware threats today at its second Cyber Trust Experience held in Singapore.

Regional Director of the Digital Crimes Unit in Asia Pacific, Keshav Dhakad, said the places most affected by cyber threats were developing markets, with Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Nepal topping the table of the Malware Infection Index for 2016.

New Zealand was ranked 18th out of 19 Asia Pacific markets, with Australia and Korea joint at number 16 and Japan the least affected market.

"What we're seeing at Microsoft is a tremendous sophistication in the way cybercrime has evolved," Dhakad said.

"[Malware] is highly automated, very organised and highly concealed.
They have really mastered camouflage material. When they steal data they can permanently delete the data."

After taking control of some malware-spreading botnets located in Europe, Microsoft was able to monitor all the devices the botnets spread to around the world.

With that information the company can record real-time "pings" from infected computers.

Microsoft record 1.4 billion pings from infected computers per week, the majority of which come form the Asia Pacific region.

The findings of the Index are based on data from the Microsoft Malware Protection Centre and the Microsoft Security Intelligence Report.

"The rising sophistication and targeted cyberattacks are causing devastating disruption and losses of data and information across all computer and internet user segments. In fact, it generally takes on average up to 200 days for organisations to find out that they have been victims of cyber attacks."

The most common forms of malware encountered in Asia Pacific region were Gamarue, a worm that can give a hacker control of your computer, and two Trojans: Skeeyah and Peals.

Dhakad said one of the reasons developing countries were more susceptible to attacks was because computers operated on software that wasn't genuine.

Safe internet practices, such as managing unique passwords safely, understanding how to safely open attachments and links in emails, was important for all businesses and individuals to review, Dhakad said.

While banks and financial services are most commonly targeted by cyberattacks, attacks are becoming more diverse with telecommunication companies, media companies, healthcare and insurance companies all suffering high profile attacks, Dhakad said.

Malware: Short for malicious software designed to cause damage to a single computer, server, or computer network.
DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service): An attempt to make an online service unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic from multiple sources.
Identity Theft: A crime in which an imposter obtains key pieces of personal information in order to impersonate someone else and gain access to sensitive data online.

Three top forms of malware:
"Gamarue": Steals personal information and sends it to a malicious hacker. It arrives in a spam email and can spread to other computers.
"Skeeyah ": A trojan that steals your personal information, downloads more malware and can give access to your computer to a hacker.
"Peals": corrupts important files and applications on your computer to malfunction.

Six tips for cybersecurity:
1. Use only genuine, current 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 with assistance from Microsoft