Thursday, August 14, 2008

Web and Email Threats Continues to Rise in 2008

By Megha Banduni Rai, Network Computing, August 05 2008, 1230 hrs

Websense Security Labs recently conducted research that says that 60 percent of the top 100 most popular Web sites either hosted malicious content or contained a masked redirect. The top 100 most popular Web sites, many of which are social networking, Web 2.0 and search sites, represent the majority of all Web page views and are the most popular target for attackers. With their large user base, good reputations and support for Web 2.0 applications, these sites provide malicious code authors with abundant opportunity.

Following the trend seen in 2007, attackers continued to take advantage of laws in traditional security measures and bypass reputation-based systems to increase attack effectiveness.

In the first half of 2008 more than 75 percent of the Web sites that Websense classified as malicious were actually sites with seemingly “good” reputations that had been compromised by attackers. This represents a 50 percent increase from the second half of 2007.

In addition to Web exploits, email spammers are also taking advantage of the reputation of popular email services like yahoo and Gmail to bypass antispam systems.

Dan Hubbard, chief technology officer, Websense says, “Today attackers are overwhelmingly forgoing creating their own malicious sites and targeting legitimate Web sites that have a built in base of visitors. There is an element of trust in the Web 2.0 world that the Web sites we frequent every day are safe, but attackers are taking advantage of the “good reputations” of Web sites to launch attacks.”

He further explains, “Most Web security and URL filtering technology today heavily rely on a Web sites’ reputation, but this method is outdated. To safely use the Internet today, organizations need Web security protection that can analyze the content on the Web page in real-time.”

Websense Security Labs found that 29 percent of malicious Web attacks included data-stealing code, demonstrating that attackers are after essential information and data. The convergence of blended Web and email threats continues to increase. Websense Security Labs reports that now more than 76.5 percent of all emails in circulation in the past six months contained links to spam sites and/or malicious Web sites. This represents an 18 percent increase since December 2007.

Websense researchers believes that organizations should prepare for continuing challenges in during the second half of 2008 and encourages security managers to shift their protection emphasis from guarding against inbound attacks at the infrastructure level to guarding essential information against blended threats and accidental or malicious loss, in tune with Web 2.0 and the internet as a business platform.

To ensure risk mitigation keeps in step with the threat climate, enterprises must rethink their approaches to Web, messaging, and data security. Organizations must think about data. How is it used? Who is using it? Where and when is it safe to use? Who can receive it? Which channels can safely send it?


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