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

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Leaderless, Rudderless, Britain Drifts

    Experts predicted chaos would follow, if Britain decided to vote for Brexit, and chaos has

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora