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Thailand among 10 countries most infected by malware in Asia

The new study analyzed 90 new laptops and computers as well as 165 software CDs/DVDs with pirated software

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The National University of Singapore (NUS) Faculty of Engineering today released the results of its new study, “Cybersecurity Risks from Non-Genuine Software”, which found that cybercriminals are compromising computers by embedding malware in pirated software and the online channels that offer them.

The study, which aims to quantify the link between software piracy and malware infections in Asia Pacific, discovered that 100% of the websites that host pirated software download links expose users to multiple security risks, including advertisements with malicious programs.

Among other findings, it also found that 92% of new computers installed with non-genuine software are infected with dangerous malware.

The study was commissioned by Microsoft.

“The study’s findings all point to the fact that uncontrolled and malicious sources of pirated software, particularly on the Internet, are being converted into effective means of spreading malware infections.

And what we would like to achieve with this report is to help users recognize that the personal and business risks and financial costs are always much higher than any perceived costs they save from using non-genuine software,” said Associate Professor Biplab Sikdar from the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at NUS Faculty of Engineering, who led the study.

Pirated Software is a Major Source for Malware Infections

Software piracy is a recognized global problem and three in five personal computers (PCs) in Asia Pacific were found to be using non-genuine software in 2016[1]. However, using pirated software expose users to a plethora of cyber threats.

“Hackers and organized cybercriminals today are adept at exploiting information technology vulnerabilities and human errors to compromise computers for malicious and financial gains at the expense of organizations and individuals. Cybercrime is predicted to cost the global economy an estimated US$6 trillion by 2021[2],” said Keshav Dhakad, Assistant General Counsel & Regional Director, Digital Crimes Unit (DCU), Microsoft Asia.

“While cybersecurity defenses continue to evolve, users are slow at adapting, whereas cybercriminals are constantly advancing their attack vectors (malware strains) and delivery mechanisms. Piracy of software is increasingly becoming a key vehicle for cybercriminals to exploit computer vulnerabilities and breach security measures with ease.”

Key Insights from the Cybersecurity Risks from Non-Genuine Software Report 

The new study analyzed 90 new laptops and computers as well as 165 software CDs/DVDs with pirated software. The samples were randomly purchased from vendors that are known to sell pirated software from across eight countries in Asia – Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Korea, and Philippines.

Researchers also examined 203 copies of pirated software downloaded from the Internet. This aligns with the trend where software is increasingly being acquired through online downloads channels. Each of these samples was thoroughly investigated for the presence of malware infections using seven anti-malware engines – AVG AntiVirus, BitDefender Total Security, IKARUS anti.virus, Kaspersky Anti-Virus, McAfee Total Protection, Norton Security Standard, and Windows Defender.

Read more at https://news.microsoft.com/apac/2017/06/21/nus-study-cybercriminals-exploit-pirated-software-fuel-malware-infections-asia-pacific/#wh2c84wbxVoOsLPf.99

 

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How will oil prices shape the Covid-19 recovery in emerging markets?

Oxford Business Group

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How will oil prices shape the Covid-19 recovery in emerging markets?

– After falling significantly in 2020, oil prices have returned to pre-pandemic levels
– The rise has been driven by OPEC+ production cuts and an improving economic climate
– Higher prices are likely to support a rebound in oil-producing emerging markets
– Further virus outbreaks or increased production would pose challenges to price stability

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A combination of continued production cuts and an increase in economic activity has prompted oil prices to return to pre-pandemic levels – a factor that will be crucial to the recovery of major oil-producing countries in the Middle East and Africa.

Brent crude prices rose above $60 a barrel in early February, the first time they had exceeded pre-Covid-19 values. They have since continued to rise, going above $66 a barrel on February 24.

The ongoing increase in oil prices, which have soared by 75% since November and around 26% since the beginning of the year, marks a dramatic change from last year.

Following the closure of many national borders and the implementation of travel-related restrictions to stop the spread of the virus, demand for oil slumped globally.

In the wake of the Saudi-Russia price war in early 2020, Brent crude prices fell from around $60 a barrel in February that year to two-decade lows of $20 a barrel in late April, as supply increased and demand plummeted. The value of WTI crude – the main benchmark for oil in the US – fell to record lows of around $40 a barrel last year on the back of a lack of storage space.

While global demand for oil remains low, one factor credited with reversing the trend is the decision to make significant cuts to oil production, which subsequently tightened global supplies.

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How the Rural-Urban Divide Plays Out on Digital Platforms

It is one thing for entrepreneurs, whether urban or rural, to create and operate an online store, as some digital platforms have made it relatively easy to manage an e-store – even by using just a smartphone.

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In the West, villages are emptying out due to the lack of economic opportunities. Consider Italy where, in a bid to attract newcomers, a handful of municipalities have turned to selling houses for €1.

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Will South-east Asia’s tech giants turn to SPACs to boost post-pandemic growth?

Oxford Business Group

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Will South-east Asia’s tech giants turn to SPACs to boost post-pandemic growth?
– SPACs have become a hot-button topic in global finance
– The vehicle is widely used to help tech start-ups go public
– Both Singapore’s and Indonesia’s exchanges are set to allow SPACs
– Several South-east Asian tech unicorns may use SPACs to list publicly

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South-east Asia is seeing a wave of interest in special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, with various major tech players considering them as a means to fast-track public listings. In parallel to this, several exchanges in the region are moving to allow SPAC listings, with a view to boosting post-coronavirus growth.

SPACs are shell companies set up by investors and then listed on a given stock exchange. Their sole function is to acquire a private company, enabling it to go public without having to go through a traditional initial public offering (IPO).

A SPAC does nothing beyond its essential function – it neither produces nor sells anything, and a SPAC’s only assets are the funds raised from its own IPO.

Crucially, people who buy into a SPAC do not know what its eventual acquisition target or targets will be. This is why SPACs are often referred to as “blank cheque companies”: they give the founders a free rein to back their choice of private company. A key feature of SPACs is that they are often headed by big-name business executives or fund managers, who trade on past successes to inspire trust in investors.

While they are far from a novel phenomenon, SPACs have become a hot button topic in recent times: SPAC initial offerings quadrupled last year, with the vehicles raising a record $80bn.

Merging with a SPAC enables a company to go public and raise capital more quickly and painlessly than with a traditional IPO, circumventing some of the volatility that Covid-19 unleashed on global markets. At the same time, they function rather like venture capital, helping investors to buy into high-growth start-ups on the ground floor.

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