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Legitimate Sites Are Most Likely To Serve Up Malware, Cisco Study Says

About a third of all malware is encountered in the U.S., Cisco annual security study finds
Legitimate sites and advertisements on the Web are much more likely to deliver malware than "shady" sites, according to a new study released Wednesday.

According to the Cisco 2013 Annual Security Report, the highest concentration of online security sites does not come from "risky" sites, such as pornography, pharmaceutical, or gambling sites, but from everyday sites.

"In fact, Cisco found that online shopping sites are 21 times as likely, and search engines are 27 times as likely, to deliver malicious content than a counterfeit software site," the study says. "Online advertisements are 182 as times likely to deliver malicious content than pornography."

The U.S. retains the top spot among countries where the most malware is encountered, accounting for a third of all malware, the study says. Russia was in the No. 2 spot with almost 10 percent; China dropped to less than 6 percent.

Android malware encounters grew 2,577 percent during 2012, according to the study. However, mobile malware represents only 0.5 percent of total Web malware encounters across the globe.

The study indicates that attitudes about online security and privacy are changing as young adults -- Generation Y -- become more prevalent in the workplace.

"Most Generation Y employees believe the age of privacy is over (91%), but one third say that they are not worried about all the data that is stored and captured about them," the study says. "They are willing to sacrifice personal information for socialization online. In fact, more Generation Y workers globally said they feel more comfortable sharing personal information with retail sites than with their own employers' IT departments – departments that are paid to protect employee identities and devices."

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