Ranks and podium finishes are no doubt one of the key highlights of the recently concluded 2010 Olympic winter games. Likewise, rankings are an aspect of many metrics used for analysis in the Symantec Global Internet Security Threat Report and there was a somewhat surprising change in the top ranks of malicious activity by country in 2009.
Beginning in 2006, Symantec began measuring, analyzing, and reporting the amount of malicious activity occurring in, or originating from, countries around the globe. In every report since, the top three countries have been the United States, China, and Germany. Although the country ranking below the top three has changed every year—with, in some cases, the amount of their malicious activity increasing significantly—there was little indication that the top three countries would change.
That said, previous editions of the report have observed and discussed indications that emerging countries such as India, Russia, Poland, Brazil, and Turkey would increasingly account for cumulative malicious activity as their broadband Internet usage and infrastructure increased. This is because rapid broadband growth can surpass the implementation of such things as comparably effective security protocols by industry and, in some cases, governments, and best practices by new and often inexperienced Internet users. This leads to a higher potential for malicious activity to occur because of the increased likelihood of a greater number of unprotected computers, which would make for appealing targets for attackers.
In 2009, one country in particular, Brazil, accounted for significantly more malicious activity than was anticipated and, for the first time since 2006, ranked in the top three countries for malicious activity. That further reminds us of the Olympics because Brazil is slated to host the summer games in 2016. Granted, accounting for a large percentage of malicious activity is not something that a country typically aspires to, but in a ranked measurement, first, second, and third are the obvious attention grabbers. So, in 2009 Germany was bumped off the podium and Brazil took its place. There is a chance that activity will shift and Germany will return to its previous ranking in 2010, but for now the trends and long term predictions from previous years have been affirmed.
For a complete analysis of the malicious activity by country observed in 2009 as well as discussion on other security threat trends, please see the latest volume of the Symantec Global Internet Security Threat Report.