In its latest Security Intelligence Report, the Microsoft Malware Protection Center (MMPC) determined that the malware encounter rate in Turkey is far greater than that of any other country in the entire world, let alone the other countries among the top 10 in malware infections.

Encounter rate, per the MMPC’s definition, is the percentage of computers that reported at least one detection of malware. Microsoft measured national encounter rates under six categories: miscellaneous Trojans, worms, exploits, Trojan downloaders and droppers, viruses, password stealers and monitoring tools, and backdoors. Turkey is among the leaders or in sole possession of the lead in every category.

Specifically, Turkey’s encounter rate is significantly higher than any other country for miscellaneous Trojans, worms, exploits, and Trojan downloaders and droppers. Turkey is tied for first place with India in the number of viruses it faces. Turkey is tied with Russia and trails closely behind India and Brazil in its rate of infection by password stealers and monitoring tools. Only China is exposed to more backdoor-related threats than Turkey.

Microsoft hypothesized that Turkey’s uncharacteristically high encounter rates by a wide variety of threat types may suggest that cybercriminals are increasingly targeting Turkey for some reason.

In order to test their hypothesis, the MMPC designated that a targeted threat denotes a family of malware with at least 80 percent of its infections in one country. Therefore, targeted encounter rate represents the percentage of computers that reported at least one detection of a targeted malware family. In comparison to other top countries, Turkey is being targeted by miscellaneous trojans, trojan downloaders and droppers, and worms are a far higher rate.

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Microsoft does not venture a guess at why cybercriminals may be targeting Turkey. However, the MMPC claims that its theory is further corroborated by a deeper examination of the most widely deployed families of targeted malware in that country. They examined the machine count inside and outside of turkey for the top five families found there. The MMPC found that the Kilm trojan has infected some 235,000 machines, 92 percent of which are in Turkey. The Murkados worm has nearly 170,000 infections, 97 percent inside turkey. The Truado trojan boasts roughly 138,000 infection, 87 percent in Turkey. The Preflayer trojan is present on 97,000 machines, 92 percent of which are located in Turkey. And the Reksner trojan is present on just fewer than 47,000 machines, of which 97 percent are inside Turkey.

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The MMPC defines miscellaneous trojans as malware that is self-contained and does not self-replicate. In Turkey, 30.6 percent of machines have experienced such infections. It’s closest competitor in this category is Russia, whose rate is 23.6 percent. The world average is 10.3 percent. In terms of worms, which is defined as malware that send copies of itself through various communication mechanisms, Turkey leads India 21.4 to 18 percent with a worldwide average of 4.7 percent. Exploits include malware that take advantage of software vulnerabilities. Turkey tops India in that category 7.7 to 5.4 percent. The worldwide average is 3.9 percent. For trojan downloaders and droppers – or trojans that download or drop other malware onto already infected computers – Turkey holds the lead at 10.7 percent over Brazil’s 8.7 percent.

Turkey shares the lead with India in virus infections rates at 8.8 percent. Viruses are malware that replicates itself by infecting other files on the host-machine. The worldwide average for virus encounter rates is 2.1 percent.

Turkey is in a tie for third with Russia with 2.5 percent of all machines reporting infections by password stealers and monitoring tools in that county. Brazil leads India 3.2 to 2.8 percent the gloabal average is 1.3 percent. China leads Turkey 3.1 to 2.8 percent with backdoor malware, which is reported by 1.2 percent of computers around the world.

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The top 10 countries with the highest encounter rates worldwide are – in no particular order – the U.S., Brazil, Turkey, Russia, India, U.K., China, Mexico, France, and Germany.

Categories: Malware, Microsoft

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