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90% of Malware-laden Websites Are Legitmate

Dan Bleaken, Senior malware Data Analyst at Symantec Hosted Services (MessageLabs), writes in a recently released white paper titled "Web Threats 2010: The Risks Ramp Up" that 90% of the total websites through which attacks are launched or malware is disseminated on end-users' computers are genuine. Cyber criminals have compromised these websites to fulfill their nefarious aims.

The rest 10% that the attackers created to especially serve sinister purposes, new domains are registered at a mean rate of 65% daily. Research data also reveals that the number of harmful domains established everyday is more than the total malware on a single day.

Nevertheless, new domain registration is declining daily from one month to another, whereas the total amount of malware each day has been more-or-less the same, Bleaken notes.

According to the white paper, there is an equal anxiety regarding infection methods that are now far more virulent and crafty compared to what they were a few years back. Most often by simply going to a contaminated website, malicious software is downloaded on the victim's computer, something called "drive-by download." As cyber criminals are effectively able to keep their threats active for a long time, the chances that end-users will encounter a malware-laden Internet site are now even more.

Furthermore, Bleaken observes that in 2010, the mean rate of website requests that MessageLabs blocked is 20% more than that during 2009 on the basis of each customer each month. He outlines that viruses are responsible for 96% of blockages of malicious sites, whereas spyware for 4%. Such spyware includes software which intercepts activity in browsers, software which change the operational method of browsers, pop-up ads, etc.

Unfortunately, the con artists have a huge number of techniques in their toolkit that can help to hijack genuine websites. These are XSS (cross-site scripting) assaults, utilization of stolen FTP (File Transfer Protocol) information, and SQL (Structured Query Language) injection.

In conclusion, Bleaken tells the public that while the 'secure web browsing' concept is no longer in vogue, one way to solve the problem is by ensuring that operating systems, software applications, browsers, plug-ins and others are regularly maintained up-to-date.

Related article: “Loopholes did not cause online banking thefts”: ICBC

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