Harmful websites on the increase

Symantec’s latest March 2009 MessageLabs Intelligence Report has revealed that close to 3,000 potentially harmful websites were blocked in March, with the percentage of viruses on the net rising to 20.3 percent, up from 16.5 percent on last year.

According to MessageLabs intelligence senior analyst Symantec, Paul Wood, cyber criminals are turning their attention towards other methods to infiltrate virusus on the net.

“Having been focused on email tactics for the latter half of 2008 and early 2009, the cyber criminals are varying their strategies, and turning their attention toward web-related tactics, so as not to become too predictable. Their goals of financial gain and espionage remain the same, however.”

Increasing by almost 200 per cent, the steep rise in malicious websites revolved around the resurgence in using images containing injected scripts, such as JavaScript or VBScript.

Many of the websites used to host these images included free image hosting websites, along with popular social networking and multimedia file-sharing sites that allow users to upload and share pictures. Malicious links were also circulated through email and hosted on infected or compromised websites, representing a growing area of risk for businesses as many attacks are designed to steal personal data and confidential information simply when users visit an infected site.

The most widely circulated on the net, the Melissa Virus reached its 10 year anniversary last month, and spread so quickly that it overloaded email servers across the globe. Even today, MessageLabs services are still intercepting on average, ten copies a month.

Symantec is warning businesses to be careful about what documents they open on the web and to always be on the lookout for harmful websites and spam.

To view the full report, please visit MessageLabs.

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