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Malware now occupies as much as 10% of search results

Forcepoint : 05 February, 2010  (Technical Article)
Research from Websense highlights dangers of malware traffic directed to malicious sites from search engine results
Websense has revealed the findings from its bi-annual research report Websense Security Labs, State of Internet Security, Q3-Q4 2009. The full report can be downloaded. Major findings from the report include:

* Websense Security Labs identified 13.7 percent of searches for trending news/buzz words (as defined by Yahoo! Buzz & Google Trends) led to malware. Search engine optimisation poisoning attacks target the top searches enabling hackers to drive traffic to their sites.

* In contrast to the first half of the year where mass injection attacks like Gumblar, Beladen and Nine Ball promoted a sharp rise in the number of malicious Web sites, Websense Security Labs has seen a 3.3 percent decline in the growth of the number of Web sites compromised. Malware authors have replaced their traditional scattergun approach with focused efforts on Web 2.0 properties with higher traffic and multiple pages.

* Overall, comparing the second half of 2009 with the same period in 2008, there has been an average growth of 225 percent in malicious Web sites.

* Malware authors continue to capitalize on Web site reputation and exploiting user trust with the second half of 2009 revealing 71 percent of Web sites with malicious code are legitimate sites that have been compromised.

* Web 2.0 sites allowing user-generated content are a top target for cybercriminals and spammers. Websense Defensioâ„¢ technology enabled Websense Security Labs to identify that 95 percent of user-generated comments to blogs, chat rooms and message boards are spam or malicious.

* Websense Security Labs found that 35 percent of malicious Web attacks included data-stealing code, demonstrating that attackers are after essential information and data.

* The Web continues to be the most popular vector for data-stealing attacks. In the second half of 2009 the Websense Security Labs found that 58 percent of data-stealing attacks are conducted over the Web.

* Tens of thousands of Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo! email accounts were hacked and passwords stolen and posted online which resulted in a marked increase in the number of spam emails.

* Websense Security Labs identified that 85.8 percent of all emails were spam.

* During the second half of the year, 81 percent of emails contained a malicious link.

Every hour, Websense Security Labs ThreatSeeker Network scans more than 40 million Web sites and ten million emails for unwanted content and malicious code. Using more than 50 million real-time data collecting systems, ThreatSeeker Network monitors and classifies Web, email and data content —providing Websense with unparalleled visibility into the state of content on the Internet and in email.

Websense Chief Technology Officer Dan Hubbard -- "Malicious hackers are really focusing their efforts to ensure they're driving their victims straight to them. By poisoning search results and focusing on Web 2.0 sites, their efforts are often more efficient and effective. The blended nature of today's threats combined with compromised legitimate sites, takes full advantage of an increased perception of trust when using search engines and interacting with friends or acquaintances online."
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