China hosts nearly a third of Web malware

Country is second only to the United States in hosting Web URLs that contain malware, new Sophos study shows.

Not only is it Asia's top producer of spam, China is now also host to the most URLs that contain malware.

According to the Security Threat Report 2007, released today by security vendor Sophos, China last year hosted 31 percent of the world's unique Web sites that contain malicious code--second only to the United States at 34.2 percent.

Other Asian economies in the top 10 list include: Taiwan at 7th position with 1.7 percent, Hong Kong at 9th position with 1 percent, and South Korea at 10th spot with 0.9 percent.

According to Sophos, malware-infected Web sites are on the rise, where some 5,000 new URLs carrying malicious code are uncovered by SophosLabs on a daily basis.

Carole Theriault, senior security consultant at Sophos, pointed out that more enterprise users are accessing unregulated sites and downloading files via the Web, making the Internet the "easiest way for cybercriminals to gain entry into corporate networks.

"A great many businesses aren't geared up to gain insight into users' online behavior, let alone control it, and it's vital that they now begin to examine ways to incorporate Web security into their overall IT security strategy," Theriault said, in a statement.

Sophos also indicated that 30 percent of all malware was written in China. Most of the malware identified were Trojan horses that attempted to create a backdoor into a user's PC. About 17 percent were designed to steal passwords from online gamers.

While Web malware is on the rise, Sophos said that e-mail threats are expected to decline in the year ahead.

The United States remains the top originating country of spam accounting for 22 percent of the global spam volume, Sophos reported. China, including Hong Kong, came in second, contributing 15.9 percent of the world's spam. South Korea is in third place at 7.4 percent.

Asia remains the region that relays the highest amount of spam--about 37 percent--while Europe overtook North America, contributing 30 percent of total spam. The Sophos report also stated that up to 90 percent of spam is relayed by zombie computers, or botnets.

Sophos identified 41,536 new types of malware last year, with four times as many Trojans as viruses and worms.

Top 10 country hosts of Web sites containing malwareSource: Sophos
Top country hosts of Web sites containing malware

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