Hong Kong 2nd biggest cyberattack target worldwide

Do you live in Hong Kong and often receive emails that look suspicious? Beware, as the city gets the tag as second biggest target of malicious email messages, someone could steal your identity or gain unauthorized access to your financial records online.

Symantec, an Internet security company, revealed that one out of every 180 e-mails sent to Hong Kong recipients carries a computer virus or other variants. Hong Kong is ranked next to Great Britain, where one in 146 emails is infected with malware. With a global average of one infected email in every 235, the city’s case is classified as serious. Interest in the two territories as cyber attack targets may have something to do with their lofty positions as regional financial institutions and a relatively mature market in mobile banking, a lucrative area for culprits.

Typically, malware is hidden in an attachment often disguised as product catalogue or photo. Small- and medium-sized businesses were most at risk, according to the report. Maybe this is because computer protection isn’t among the highest of priorities for these companies or that email is a common medium of communication. I occasionally spot such tainted messages, but they’re observed in Yahoo! Mail. Infected emails come from friends whose accounts have been hijacked and turned into zombies, aimlessly shooting messages telling everyone about trivial matters.

As Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are coming up, the attacks could even intensify, with themes shifting towards gift-giving and deceptively realistic messages. Historically, the rate of emails with malicious content is higher in October and November than on other quarters. Worse, an increase of Chinese-language spam has also been observed.

Given the amount of risk we face, shall we move onto other medium of communication? When sending a message to my brother, I often use Facebook messaging which supports email attachment and optional SMS feature. Is this the future of messaging? I am not sure, but as long as we face the risk of malicious contents on emails, someone somewhere is looking for ways to put an end to traditional email communication method and replace it with more practical, safer alternative.