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Report Reveals the Riskiest Web Domains to Visit

Report Reveals the Riskiest Web Domains to Visit

Web risk climbed to a record 6.2% of more than 27 million live domains evaluated for the 2010 Mapping the Mal Web report released today by McAfee. According to the report, the world’s most heavily trafficked web domain, .COM, is now the riskiest, with fifty-six percent of all risky sites discovered ending in .COM.

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 and .TRAVEL as the safest overall domain. It’s interesting to note that .JP (currently $89.99 at GoDaddy) and .TRAVEL ($89.99 at Moniker) domains are also some of the most expensive domains. Are cybercriminals getting cheap with other people’s credit cards? Or do the higher price make it more risky?

“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,” said Paula Greve, director of web security research for McAfee Labs.

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.

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.

Top Five Riskiest Country Web Domains

Riskiest Domains on the Web

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.

“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.”

Mapping the Mal Web report was generated using the McAfee Global Threat Intelligence database to analyze content, behavior and reputation to determine riskiness. It August, McAfee released its report on the Top 10 Most Dangerous Celebrities online in which Cameron Diaz took the top spot.

The full report is available at: http://us.mcafee.com/en-us/local/docs/MTMW_Report.pdf

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