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Malicious software table reflects Olympic medal forecast

ScanSafe : 30 July, 2008  (Technical Article)
Although the USA, China and Germany are top of the forecast table for Beijing Olympics medals, their superiority is also reflected in the awards for the top three malware host countries.
With the Beijing 2008 Olympics less than two weeks away, ScanSafe has issued data on the top three countries hosting Web-based malware including viruses, Trojans, root kits, password stealers and other malicious programs. China ranked second on the list and Germany ranked third:

Top 5 Malware Hosts (based on Web malware blocked in the last month by ScanSafe):.

1. US: 42 per cent.
2. China: 12 per cent.
3. Germany: 6 per cent.
4. United Kingdom 5 per cent.
5. Russia 4 per cent.

Coincidentally this mirrors the real medals table with the US finishing top of the table at the last 3 Olympics.

A large number of the malware hosts in the last month were part of the Asprox fast flux bot network–PCs that have been enlisted into the bot network and mask the true origin of the actual host.

“We can expect to see an increase in Olympics-themed spam, blog comments, and forum posts that try to entice potential victims into visiting malicious websites under the auspices of viewing video or other content related to the games,” Mary Landesman, senior security researcher, ScanSafe comments. “Potentially, there may also be an increase in the compromise of legitimate websites that feature Olympics-related content, in order to exploit the heightened traffic that may result.”

According to a ScanSafe report, Web-based malware has already increased by 278 per cent in the first half of 2008. Web users should not associate malware only with ‘dodgy’ websites. More and more legitimate sites are being targeted by attackers and websites where the Olympic Games are streamed online by broadcasters could be a prime area for compromise.

The company urges businesses to take a close look at their acceptable Internet usage policies ahead of the event and plan for increased requests for Olympic-related sites, higher than usual bandwidth consumption and the increased risks of exposure to malware. It also encourages companies to ensure that all Web security measures are extended to users who may use corporate issued PCs at home or while traveling to keep abreast of Olympic developments. Earlier this year, ScanSafe launched Anywhere+, the world’s first SaaS Web security for remote and roaming PC users, providing real-time protection from malware and enforcement of acceptable Internet usage policies for all users surfing the Web regardless of their location.

“Whether traveling to the Olympics or viewing the games online, Web surfers should be extra cautious before, during and immediately after the games,” says Landesman. “Of particular concern are corporate users who encounter a compromised website, putting networks and proprietary information at risk. In the majority of cases, these compromised sites are forcing silent downloads of password stealers, a category of malware that poses a particular security concern to the enterprise network.”

ScanSafe offered the following tips for Web surfers to help ensure their online Olympic experience is a safe one:.

* Sanitize your searches using Scandoo– Scandoo is ScanSafe’s free service that provides advanced warning for sites that contain malware or unwanted content in search results.

* Security is there for a reason - Do not bypass security measures put in place by the acceptable usage policy. This includes anti-virus and firewall protection.

* Make security a habit - Keep your operating system and anti-virus protection up to date, to remain protected from the latest exploits and malware. Check for updates every time you log on.

* Report any problems - If your PC performance deteriorates or if you suspect your laptop may be compromised by a virus or other malware, report it immediately to an IT specialist. Know what to do and who to contact if something goes wrong.
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