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SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, AppDynamics Blog, Ed Featherston, Pat Romanski

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McAfee, Inc. Reveals the Riskiest Web Domains to Surf and Search

The world’s most heavily trafficked web domain, .COM, is now the riskiest, according to McAfee’s fourth annual Mapping the Mal Web report released today. Fifty-six percent of all risky sites end in .COM.

McAfee analyzed more than 27 million websites to uncover which domains are the most dangerous. While .COM is the riskiest top-level domain, the riskiest country domain is Vietnam (.VN). Japan’s .JP ranks as the safest country domain for the second year in a row. The report also found that 6.2 percent of the 27 million websites analyzed pose a security risk – up from 5.8 percent last year.

“This report underscores how quickly cybercriminals change tactics to lure in victims and avoid being caught,” said Paula Greve, director of web security research for McAfee Labs™. “Last year Vietnam’s .VN was a relatively safe domain, and this year it jumped to the third most dangerous domain. Cybercriminals target regions where registering sites is cheap and convenient and pose the least risk of being caught. A domain that’s safe one year can be dangerous the next.”

A top-level domain, also known as a “TLD,” is the letter code at the end of a website that indicates where the site is registered. Most people do not pay attention to the TLD suffix when they search, and many click on the first result that looks interesting. This leaves the surfer vulnerable to criminals who optimize sites for search engines and take advantages of typos such as .CM (Cameroon) instead of .COM.

Country Domain Comparisons

The report reveals drastic changes in country domain rankings with .VN (Vietnam) skyrocketing to third place, up from 39th in 2009. In fact, 58 percent of the country’s registered sites are ranked as risky. By contrast, .SG (Singapore) became safer this year, dropping to the 81st most risky domain from 10th in last year’s report. Singapore’s registration process now requires appropriate documentation when seeking to register any .SG site, which helped to improve its safety levels, according to the Singapore Network Information Center. Click here to see an interactive map of the most dangerous domains.

             

Top Five Riskiest Country Web Domains
(ranked in most risky order)

   

Overall Risk
2010

   

Overall Risk
2009

Vietnam (.VN)     29.4%     .9%
Cameroon (.CM)     22.2%     36.7%
Armenia (.AM)     12.1%     2.0%
Cocos (.CC)     10.5%     3.3%
Russia (.RU)     10.1%     4.6%
       
             

Top Five Safest Country Web Domains
(ranked in least risky order)

   

Overall Risk
2010

   

Overall Risk
2009

Japan (.JP)     .1%     .1%
Catalan (.CAT)     .1%     .1%
Guernsey (.GG)     .1%     .6%
Croatia (.HR)     .1%     .1%
Ireland (.IE)     .1%     .1%
 

Key Findings from the 2010 Mapping the Mal Web Report

  • Cybercriminals are opportunistic: Domain registrars set the guidelines for anyone who wants to register a site. As rules evolve each year, cybercriminals sniff out loopholes and create new ways to set up dangerous sites quickly.
  • A clean domain deters cybercriminals: Cybercriminals move away from domains that have tougher restrictions. This year, Singapore (.SG) showed significant improvement.
  • Safest domains: .TRAVEL and .EDU are the safest top-level domains with less than .05 percent of sites infected, which is one in 2,000 sites.

Tips for Consumers, Businesses and Domain Operators

“What online surfers may not know is that simply viewing a page can return much more than they bargained for,” said Greve. “Cybercriminals lay invisible traps all over the Internet that are intended to steal consumers’ passwords, bank information or even identities.”

Web surfers can stay protected from quickly evolving threats on the Web by using reputable, actively updated security software with advanced malware detection and prevention. Security suites like McAfee Total Protection™ keep users’ personal information and computers safe with several tools and technologies to protect against every facet of online risks.

Businesses can help users navigate Web risks by adding Web reputation functionality to their other defenses. Operators of risky TLDs can learn from the report as well. It is possible to turn around a risky reputation or maintain a good one. For more information or to download the full report, please visit http://us.mcafee.com/en-us/local/docs/Mapping_Mal_Web.pdf

About the Mapping the Mal Web Report

McAfee used the McAfee® Global Threat Intelligence database to analyze content, behavior and reputation to determine riskiness in the Mapping the Mal Web report. The database correlates multiple types of threat data from more than 150 million sensors located in more than 120 countries. These sensors—individual computers, gateway network devices, endpoint software, in-the-cloud hosted services—come from consumers, small- and mid-sized businesses, enterprise customers, educational institutions and governmental agencies.

About McAfee, Inc.

McAfee, Inc., headquartered in Santa Clara, California, is the world's largest dedicated security technology company. McAfee delivers proactive and proven solutions and services that help secure systems, networks, and mobile devices around the world, allowing users to safely connect to the Internet, browse and shop the Web more securely. Backed by unrivaled Global Threat Intelligence, McAfee creates innovative products that empower home users, businesses, the public sector and service providers by enabling them to prove compliance with regulations, protect data, prevent disruptions, identify vulnerabilities, and continuously monitor and improve their security. McAfee secures your digital world. http://www.mcafee.com

Note: McAfee, the McAfee logo, Global Threat Intelligence, McAfee Labs and McAfee Total Protection are registered trademarks or trademarks of McAfee, Inc., or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others. ©2010 McAfee, Inc. All rights reserved. The product plans, specifications and descriptions herein are provided for information only, subject to change without notice, and without warranty of any kind, express or implied.

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