Asian countries dominate list of least cyber-secure remote working locations

A businessman working remotely outdoors in sunny conditions
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Half of the top ten least cyber-secure nations in the world for remote workers are in Asia, according to new research.

Indonesia and Cyprus have been identified as the least cyber-secure nations for remote workers, a jointly held position determined largely by the number of phishing and malware-hosting sites operating in the regions.

Both countries have more than 1,000 phishing and malware sites in operation and more than 20 pages each month attempting to launch drive-by download attacks.

A drive-by download attack often involves imitating a real website but tricks victims into downloading malware on their devices.

SEO specialist Reboot, which commissioned the research, told IT Pro that it believes that a greater number of malicious websites hosted in a country implies a riskier cyber security landscape.

A greater presence of malicious agents indicates cyber crime is more widespread in the region, despite malware sites being reachable from anywhere in the world. it said.

The research aimed to highlight the dangers of ‘workations’ - the phenomenon of remote or hybrid workers travelling abroad without taking annual leave. They can work during the day as normal, and enjoy a new city’s culture and tourist attractions around that.

Research from Babbel found that 56% of workers have either planned to or have already completed a workation as the trend of digital nomadism rises post-pandemic.

Countries such as Spain and Portugal have also launched specific visas tailored to digital nomads allowing them to work inside their borders for at least one year.

Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, and Nepal were the other Asian countries that comprised the top ten least-secure countries.

Singapore led all nations by the number of malware-hosting sites running in the region (2,160) while Vietnam registered the second-most compromised computers (per 100,000 users) with 3,115 in total - a figure only beaten by ninth-ranked Tunisia with 5,588.

Nepal was highlighted as the worst country in the top ten for average monthly drive-by download sites at 126 - a number far greater than second-placed Vietnam with 30.

At the other end of the scale, Finland was named the most cyber-secure country for remote workers. According to Reboot’s data analysis, just 11 computers per 100,000 users were compromised in the country which, in part, led the company to assign it the lowest ‘cyber danger score’.

Comprising the other top five most cyber-secure workation spots were Honduras, Guatemala, Paraguay, and Austria and South Korea in joint fifth place.

Nomadic workers should be vigilant when it comes to cyber security and deploy basic cyber hygiene principles to remain secure when working abroad.

Enabling technologies such as two-factor or multi-factor authentication can offer powerful protection against most attacks and is likely to be something most employers would enable by default on company-issued devices.

Knowing how to vet emails for potential phishing attacks is a valuable skill and using general common sense, such as not leaving devices unlocked and unattended in public spaces, will go a long way in preventing attacks.

Connor Jones

Connor Jones has been at the forefront of global cyber security news coverage for the past few years, breaking developments on major stories such as LockBit’s ransomware attack on Royal Mail International, and many others. He has also made sporadic appearances on the ITPro Podcast discussing topics from home desk setups all the way to hacking systems using prosthetic limbs. He has a master’s degree in Magazine Journalism from the University of Sheffield, and has previously written for the likes of Red Bull Esports and UNILAD tech during his career that started in 2015.