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Malware Attacks Growing at Popular Websites
By: Joe Eitel
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    2008-08-06

    Table of Contents:
  • Malware Attacks Growing at Popular Websites
  • SQL Injections
  • Malware is No Longer about Technology, but Big Business
  • Other Legitimate Websites Hackers Use

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    Malware Attacks Growing at Popular Websites


    (Page 1 of 4 )

    Do you think web-based malware occurs only on illegal websites? Do you feel relatively secure logging into legitimate websites, such as Wal-Mart? Keep reading; this article just might make you change your mind.

    Introduction

    Like countless other users, you feel confident that these companies will take all of the precautionary measures to ensure your login information remains confidential. After all, they have the money and the resources. The last thing they'd want is for their websites to be compromised. So they're going to hire the top-notch IT security professionals.

    Well, don't be too sure that these well-established companies have security measures that are hacker-proof. Please don't misunderstand. These companies are likely to do everything possible to maintain high security standards. It's just that these hackers have gotten more sophisticated, creative and bolder.

    Hackers are no longer just focused on technology; they've turned their trade into a business. They advertise their businesses on websites, such as YouTube or ICQ. A report was recently released by ScanSafe that has caused some concerns as to just how safe these legitimate websites are from a malware attack.

    The Security Report

    A security report titled " A Comparative Look at the State of Web Security"  presented some key figures that raise serious concerns. ScanSafe, a web security company, produced the report. The study's timeframe focus was between May 2007 and May 2008. One of the key conclusions that the report showed was that 68 percent of legitimate websites were hosting malware. Hackers had been able to infiltrate various sizes of legitimate websites, ranging from well-known to smaller businesses, according to Mary Landesman, senior security researcher at ScanSafe.

    One such legitimate website was nature.com. The website is one of the top 500 most-trafficked websites with over 700,000 unique visitors each month (according to Quantcast ). However, nature.com was one of the websites that had been compromised. The study found that malicious scripts were embedded in nature.com. The malicious scripts consisted of password-stealing Trojans found on visitors' computers. Fortunately, nature.com immediately repaired the problems. However, in just one day when the website was compromised, 30,000 users could have been exposed to these malware threats.

    In May, 2007, the only web-based threats that the usual corporate user may have faced were the blog's links and forums, or suspicious email messages. IT security professionals would just tell corporate users to not click on these links and instead go to legitimate websites. But as previously stated and a year later, security breaches have reached legitimate websites. In May, 2008, corporate users experienced a three-fold increase in being exposed to web-based malware.

    Hackers used various methods, such as SQL injection attacks, to tamper with websites. The report listed other significant numbers. Since last year, risks of exposure to exploits and compromised web sites increased by over 400 percent. Back-door and password-stealing malware accounted for the fastest-growing types of threats, which increased by 855 percent. Other malicious threats, such as Trojans and viruses that users might encounter when surfing the Internet, had increased by 220 percent.

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