Australia ranks high in international bot network

Australia has become a destination of choice to launch Internet-based attacks, running closely behind the US, China and Canada.

Our rise into the 'top five' means over two years Australia has risen from number 57 to number 10, and most recently plummeted to the fourth position eclipsing countries like South Korea.

South Korea is now ranked 61st, according to the bi-annual Symantec Internet Threat Security Report, released today.

Symantec Australia managing director, John Donovan said the increase in 'bot' machines in Australia is a big contributor to the rise.

Bots are programs installed on a targeted system allowing an unauthorised user to remotely control a computer to send spam and conduct other activities.

During the first half of this year, the number of monitored bots rose from 2000 daily to more than 30,000 daily, with occasional peaks of more than 75,000 daily.

"We don't have knowledge about a huge base of code writers in Australia, but what we do have is a large number of compromised systems that are a last-known source of Internet-based attacks, these bot machines. We are a very well developed country with a growing broadband population but our challenge at the moment is similar to South Korea," Donovan said.

"The bot machines also represent the base of systems to release malicious code, your machine may be part of a network even though [you] don't know it, which is the challenge. They are certainly the biggest concern in reducing the amount of compromised systems out there."

A startling figure from the report is a 400 percent increase worldwide in phishing incidents over the last six months.

Donovan said that the threat levels for users is evolving at a far greater rate than the population is being educated about how they can protect not only themselves from attacks but their machines from being compromised.

"The fact is that more people are trying to target operating systems and specific industries through socially engineered attacks, like phishing, but this can be significantly reduced through a combination of technology and policy," he said.

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