Australians visiting more malicious sites: Trend Micro

Trend Micro's third-quarter security report for 2014 has found that Australia now ranks fifth in the world for countries with the highest number of visits to malicious sites.

There has been a steady rise in malicious links across Australia in 2014, according to Trend Micro's third-quarter security roundup report.

According to the Vulnerabilities under attack: Shedding light on the growing attack surface report (PDF), Australians clicked on more than 45.5 million malicious links in the third quarter of 2014, up from 39 million in Q2, and nearly 27 million malicious links in Q1. This ranks Australia fifth in the world for countries with the highest number of visits to malicious sites after the US, Japan, France, and Italy.

Trend Micro attributed the increase in malicious attacks during the third quarter to the Shellshock event that threatened more than half a billion services and devices worldwide. At the same time, it said there was an uptick in volume and sophistication of online attacks and mobile app vulnerabilities.

Australia also ranked fifth in the world for countries with the most point-of-sale malware infections, the report revealed, where many targeted their attacks towards large retailers.

Meanwhile, the number of affected end points to command and control servers in Australia were so high that Australia ranked third in the world, after the US and Japan, during the third quarter.

Jon Oliver, senior software architect director at Trend Micro Australia and New Zealand, said the findings confirmed that Australia is battling rapidly moving cybercriminals and vulnerabilities simultaneously.

"With this fluidity, it's time to embrace the fact that compromises will continue, and we shouldn't be alarmed or surprised when they occur," he said.

"Preparation is key, and as an industry we must better educate organisations and consumers about heightened risks as attacks grow in volume and in sophistication. Understanding that cybercriminals are finding vulnerabilities and potential loopholes in every device and platform possible will help us confront these challenges, so technology can be used in a positive way."

On a global perspective, the report recorded that online banking infection rose from 112,000 in the last quarter to 137,000 in Q3. Similarly, the number of phishing URLs blocked surged to 721,000 in the third quarter, up from 138,000 in Q2.