Mexico, Brazil and Colombia were the top countries for computer virus attacks in Latin America during 2010, according to a study from Russian antivirus software developer Kaspersky Laboratories on the virus landscape in the region.
Mexico led with 33% of the total computer virus attacks in the region, followed by Brazil with 28% and Colombia with 8%. According to Kaspersky, Mexico and Brazil saw a large number of attacks due to their large populations and high internet penetration. Kaspersky said it was surprised Colombia was third, attributing the high attack rate to its stable economy and low inflation rate - "a fact that does not go unnoticed by criminals, whose motivation is [stealing] money."
Another surprise was Ecuador, as at was among the top 10 and tied with Argentina, which has a larger population and higher internet penetration. Kaspersky said Ecuador was probably a target because its banking system lacks efficient cybercrime fighting mechanisms, and the legal system is unprepared to handle this type of crime.
Countries seeing the largest number of malware hosted on web servers were Brazil with 59% of region's total figure, Panama with 17%, and Paraguay and Argentina, each with 8%. Kaspersky was also surprised by Panama and Paraguay's rankings, but attributed these to the ease of renting a website, lack of security for web services and lack of a management system for site providers to analyze usage in the two countries.
Virus attacks were most commonly detected in the region on computers using Microsoft Office, Microsoft, Sun Java and Adobe. Microsoft Office saw 40% of attacks, followed by Adobe products with 35%, Sun Java with 18% and Microsoft with 4%. The vulnerability of these programs is due to a lack of software precautions installed in Latin America. Operating systems are often pirated, lacking valid licenses and the ability to update properly - which makes the computers more vulnerable to cybercrime.
Kaspersky had various recommendations for computer users in Latin America, such as consistently updating all programs, operating systems and anti-virus solutions. Another recommendation was for countries and institutions in the region to exchange information and evidence to fight cybercrime, as criminals often work with their counterparts in other countries.