News / Science & Technology

Vietnam’s Digital Dreams Held Back by Malware 'Epidemic'

FILE - Vietnamese people work with computers at a media center in Hanoi.
FILE - Vietnamese people work with computers at a media center in Hanoi.
Marianne Brown
Vietnam is planning to develop a vibrant digital economy in the next 10 years, but computer analysts say it still has a long way to go. Most of the software used in the country is pirated, computer users in the country are experiencing an ‘epidemic’ of malware attacks, and observers say the government is not doing enough to respond.

Vietnam’s information, communications and technology sector has grown rapidly over the last 10 years and the government has high hopes for its future, with plans to become a center for Information Technology, or " IT," outsourcing in the next decade.

But to capture its share of the knowledge economy, experts say more has to be done to address cyber security in Vietnam.

One major stumbling block is malicious software, known as malware, which is used to disrupt or damage computer operations, steal data or access private computer systems.

Vietnam is consistently among the top five distributors of spam and malware in the world, said Michael Mudd, Chair of Information Technology, Intellectual property and Telecommunications Committee at the American Chamber of Commerce.

He said Vietnam is facing a malware “epidemic,” mainly because of lack of awareness about the problem.

“In the countries that have been involved in IT for longer, they are more aware of anti-virus programs. Everywhere I go in Vietnam, I go in places and offices and stuff like this, and hardly any computer, apart from the very big ones, are protected by any anti-virus program at all,” he explained.

The issue of malware is a very reactive one, you do not do anything until it hits you, said Wahab Yusoff, Vice President of the South Asia region for global computer software company McAfee.

“I think awareness is increasing but I think there’s a sense of laissez faire, I’m not being affected, but awareness is increasing," Yusoff said. "Compared to Singapore it’s a much smaller country and community, it’s less in terms of awareness and maturity but it’s definitely on the rise.”

The use of pirated software is one of the main ways malware can access computers systems.

According to U.S.-based Business Software Alliance, around 81 percent of computers in Vietnam use pirated software. Mudd said infected computers could take up to 20 percent of available bandwidth, incurring substantial economic costs.

Compromised computers can be used to launch attacks on other computers.

Pham Hoang Mien is co-owner of events website Hanoi Grapevine.

Last week the site went offline for a day after being subject to a “distributed brute force attack”, which means a large number of compromised computers were automatically trying to log into the site. The purpose of attacks like these are often to obtain personal information.

Records indicate many of the computers involved in the attack were located within Vietnam.

“Clients keep calling and e-mailing to say ‘so, when is it going to be online, we put an ad there and now it’s gone so what’s going to happen next?’ Or some people messaged us to say ‘we are going to Hanoi this weekend, but I cannot access the site so what is going on, can you tell me?’ And I’m going ‘well, actually I’m just like you," Mien stated. "Without our site I also don’t know what’s going on in town.”

The economic implications can have a national impact, said McAfee’s Yusoff, because malware has the potential to disable national infrastructure. He gives the example of cash machines.

“We’ve heard so many stories in the past in Europe and the U.S. where ATMs are brought down and countries are made to suffer because ATMs are not available for two weeks. So issues like that which can actually bring a country’s economy down to its knees,”

Mudd said to tackle the problem, Vietnam does not need more “antivirus scientists with four-year degree programs,” but an army of IT 'plumbers' who can maintain computer systems properly and get rid of the preloaded malware coming in with the machines.

He says to achieve Vietnam’s IT dreams, education about cyber security should start early, even at school age, so people understand the value of investing in legitimate software and antivirus programs.

You May Like

Video Obama to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President says US will take leadership role for a global response to deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Spacei
X
September 17, 2014 4:20 AM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid