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Asia has fastest internet, launches most cyber-attacks

Hong Kong, South Korea good – China, not so much

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Not only is Asia home to the world's fastest internet connections, but it's also the source of the most internet attack traffic, according to new data from content delivery provider Akamai.

The latest edition of the company's quarterly "State of the Internet" report once again crowns Hong Kong as home of the fastest broadband available. During the third quarter of 2012, the Chinese special administrative region boasted an average peak connection rate of a head-spinning 54.1Mbps.

Onetime leader South Korea came in second with an average peak connection rate of 48.8Mbps. By way of comparison, you'd be hard pressed to find anything similar in the US or UK, where peak connection speeds averaged 29.6Mbps and 28.1Mbps during the quarter, respectively.

It's easy to get fast broadband in Asia, too. South Korean internet users enjoyed an overall average connection speed of 14.7Mbps during the third quarter of 2012, while Japan's national average was 10.5Mbps and Hong Kong's was 9Mbps.

By comparison, the UK average was just 6.3Mbps, and connections averaged 7.2Mbps across the entire US – although speeds there varied widely by region. Delaware offered the fastest connections in the US at 10.9Mbps, with the District of Columbia coming in second at 10.7Mbps, and New Hampshire and Vermont tied for third at 10.4Mbps.

Those rates are hardly the norm, however. In South Korea, 52 per cent of internet users have access to broadband speeds faster than 10Mbps. Only 18 per cent of Americans can make the same claim, and a mere 11 per cent of Britons can.

In general, Asian countries led the pack in all of the broadband performance metrics Akamai studied, with South Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong all showing strong results.

Bad packets from the East

But Asia came out tops in another, less laudable statistic, too. It was also the source of more traffic from DDoS attacks, botnets, and other cyber-nuisances than any other region, with China being the main culprit.

According to Akamai's data, 33 per cent of all attack traffic monitored in Q3 of 2012 originated in China, or 37.5 per cent if you include Taiwan. The second-worst offender – sadly, the United States – produced only 13 per cent of the total.

China's share of attack traffic was up sharply from the previous quarter, too, when its packets only accounted for 16 per cent of all attacks. Akamai offered no explanation for this doubling of China's attack volume, although it observed that China was already the leading source of attacks in the second quarter.

This is actually a little curious, since compared to other countries in the region, China's internet infrastructure is not all that impressive. Chinese customers' average peak connection speed was just 7.1Mbps, and only 3.9 per cent of Chinese had access to broadband faster than 4Mbps.

But China is a nation of 1.3 billion people, and while many have no access to the internet for now, more are coming online every day. By Akamai's latest figures, the number of Chinese with access to 4Mbps broadband increased 79 per cent year-over-year, and the number with access to connections at speeds 10Mbps or higher was up 70 per cent. Hopefully the number of cyber-attacks coming from China does not keep pace with the growth of its infrastructure.

There is some cause for optimism, though. Compared to China, the better-connected Asian nations produced but a tiny share of attack traffic. Broadband bandwidth leader Hong Kong was responsible for 0.9 per cent of attacks; Japan, 1.2 per cent; and South Korea, 1.5 per cent.

So who knows? It could turn out that as more Chinese gain access to high-speed broadband, more of them will be inspired to use the internet for constructive purposes – but that may be wishful thinking. ®

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