Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Attacks/Breaches

Searching For News Is Riskier Than Searching For Porn, Study Says

As search engine poisoning spreads, bad guys show preference for legitimate sites

Which search is more likely to yield malware: a child's research for a school current events project or a male's search for nude photos of Paris Hilton? The answer may surprise you.

According to the newly-published Websense 2010 Threat Report, a Web search that seeks breaking trends and current news may lead to poisoned or infected websites 22.4 percent of the time. Searching for objectionable content results in such poisoning only 21.8 percent of the time.

"'Searchers beware!' could have been the new motto [in 2010], as hackers spent a lot of time compromising legitimate websites," the report says. "News headlines and entertainment buzz continued to be a choice target for SEO [search engine optimization] attacks. Rogue antivirus combined with SEO poisoning was a commonly used technique.

"Malware authors focused on entertainment buzz and breaking news," the report continues. "The earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, Corey Haim’s death, and the World Cup of Soccer were just a few examples of cleverly manipulated search engine results steering people to bogus links that rated higher than legitimate results. Similar to what we found in 2009, the botnets behind these campaigns are being repurposed once the illegitimate campaign has been removed from the search engine results."

Websense identified a 111.4 percent increase in the number of malicious websites from 2009 to 2010. Nearly 80 percent of websites with malicious code were legitimate sites that have been compromised — an increase of 3 percent from the previous year.

The theft of lucrative data continues to be the primary motive behind malware, Websense says. "Cybercriminals and business leaders have quickly come to realize that data is the newest form of global currency," the report says. "Whether it's credit cards, chemical recipes, patient records, or phone numbers, all assets have a price. Not only does the loss of assets severely damage the financial well-being of a company, it becomes a public relations nightmare when the good reputation of a company is threatened."

Smartphones, politics, and blended attacks will characterize the coming year of malware, Websense predicts.

"Some mobile platforms, including the iPhone, have already been attacked," the report notes. "The continued consumerization of these phones and the increasing amounts of financial data that touch these devices make them ripe future targets. Also, there is a sizeable variance between the quality of available mobile applications. These applications will open the door for unintended security vulnerabilities. Legitimate apps will easily be repurposed for spam and phishing attacks."

Hate and terrorist groups could also be a problem in 2011, Websense says. "We’ve already seen a rise in the presence of these organizations on the Web. Numerous groups will continue to focus on the Web to recruit members, make money, and commit various crimes. We also expect a tightening of the organizational structures in which these groups operate."

And a mix of attack vectors will continue to prevail, the report predicts. "SEO optimization -- combined with rogue AV and email containing data-stealing components -- will not slow down in the coming 12 months," Websense says. "Relying on reactive security measures, such as standalone AV, will simply fail to provide adequate protection against these sophisticated techniques that combine Web, data loss prevention, and email."

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 8/10/2020
Researcher Finds New Office Macro Attacks for MacOS
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  8/7/2020
Hacking It as a CISO: Advice for Security Leadership
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  8/10/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Changing Face of Threat Intelligence
The Changing Face of Threat Intelligence
This special report takes a look at how enterprises are using threat intelligence, as well as emerging best practices for integrating threat intel into security operations and incident response. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-15596
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-12
The ALPS ALPINE touchpad driver before 8.2206.1717.634, as used on various Dell, HP, and Lenovo laptops, allows attackers to conduct Path Disclosure attacks via a "fake" DLL file.
CVE-2020-15868
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-12
Sonatype Nexus Repository Manager OSS/Pro before 3.26.0 has Incorrect Access Control.
CVE-2020-17362
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-12
search.php in the Nova Lite theme before 1.3.9 for WordPress allows Reflected XSS.
CVE-2020-17449
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-12
PHP-Fusion 9.03 allows XSS via the error_log file.
CVE-2020-17450
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-12
PHP-Fusion 9.03 allows XSS on the preview page.