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Risk

4/24/2008
10:20 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
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Quick! Unplug Your Internet Connection!

According to the security vendor Sophos, one Web page is infected with malicious software every five seconds. Yeah, but it's probably mom-and-pop and porn Web sites with all of the infections, you say. Think again.

According to the security vendor Sophos, one Web page is infected with malicious software every five seconds. Yeah, but it's probably mom-and-pop and porn Web sites with all of the infections, you say. Think again.IT security company Sophos just published its latest Security Threat Report, which covered global cybercrime during the first three months of this year. The findings aren't good news: the company says it's identifying and blocking a newly infected Web page every five seconds, up from every 14 seconds last year.

This is perhaps the most interesting data point from the report:

Sophos identified an average of more than 15,000 newly infected Web pages each day. Most worrying for computer users is the fact that the majority of these poisoned sites -- 79% -- are found on legitimate Web sites that have been hacked. February saw the Web site of U.K. broadcaster ITV fall victim to a poisoned Web advert campaign which targeted both Windows and Mac users, while in March a Euro 2008 football ticket Web site was hacked by cybercriminals in an attempt to infect unwary fans.

While one would expect such dire statistics in more darker parts of the Internet, or even on peer-to-peer file sharing networks, it's surprising to see so many legitimate Web pages infected. The report did have some good news: Just one in every 2,500 e-mails is infected. That's down from one in every 909 last year.

Maybe what we need are mini Web site security scanners available as plug ins for Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari. That way, we could all execute a quick security assessment on a page before allowing it to download to our systems.

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