A study by Microsoft has revealed the top three kinds of malware in Asia that can give hackers access to computers.

The biggest threat comes from a virus called Gamarue, which is particularly prevalent in ASEAN. It is typically distributed through online software and can give hackers control over the infected computer.

The other two biggest threats are called Skeeyah and Peels, which look innocent to deceive people into installing them. They allow hackers to get access remotely, steal usernames and browsing history, use the computer for click fraud and install other malware.

The announcement from Microsoft comes as the Singapore Government confirms plans to seal off internet access on civil servants’ work computers. Officials will be able to browse the internet from a second device which does not have access to government email systems and data.

It is taking this move following a slight upward trend in hackers attempting to steal government data, a government spokesperson said. Microsoft has discovered a group of cybercriminals targeting government agencies, defence and intelligence institutes and telecommunications companies in the region. The data shows that 4.3% of all attacks by this group were targeted at Singapore.

There are four common issues in IT environments which lead to gaps in security, said Keshav Dhakad, regional director, Intellectual Property and Digital Crimes Unit, Microsoft Asia.

“Firstly, the usage of IT assets which are old, unprotected, or are non-genuine in nature, Secondly, unmanaged and unregulated IT assets usage, procurement and maintenance,” he said.

“Thirdly, poor cyber hygiene of users and negligent employee behaviour inside companies. Fourthly, the inability of the companies to timely monitor, detect and remove modern cyber threats, among others, are some of the common causes for cybercrime risks,” he added.

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