The explosion in drive-by download attacks continues to grow. How has the situation got so dangerous? Are there any "trusted" Web sites left?
In May 2007, Google joined the security community in warning users about the threat from drive-by download attacks, which is where users' computers are infected with malware when they visit an affected Web site.
By February 2008, the number of drive-by download attacks had increased by 300 percent and showed no signs of abating. Google's researchers investigated billions of URLs and found more than three million unique URLs on over 180,000 Web sites were attempting to automatically install malware.
The drive-by download phenomenon has destroyed the concept of a "trusted" Web site. In the first half of 2007, Sophos claimed to have discovered around 30,000 malicious Web sites appearing every day. Only 20 percent of these were actually run by the criminals deploying the malware -- the rest were genuine, and previously "trusted" sites that had been hacked by criminals to deliver their malware.
"It's no surprise to see legitimate Web pages targeted for these attacks," said Carole Theriault, senior security consultant at Sophos. "Businesses generally aren't too strict about stopping their employees accessing these Web sites, while the sites themselves will already have their own daily flow of user traffic, saving hackers the trouble of trying to entice unenlightened Web surfers."
The appearance of toolkits, which makes it a simple process turning any Web site into a malicious one, has exacerbated the problem.
The best-known toolkit, Mpack, uses cross-site scripting to place malicious iframes on legitimate Web sites. Iframes are used by Web designers to open additional windows (often hosted on other sites) within a main Web page; iframes can also be used by criminal hackers to redirect browsers to malicious-code sites.
The criminals perpetrating these attacks rely on users stumbling on a site that contains their malware with unpatched browsers, operating systems and applications.
Unfortunately, the sheer volume of software on the average PC makes it near impossible for the majority of users to remain completely safe from such attacks.
Sites that have recently been discovered dishing out malware to unsuspecting surfers include The Sydney Opera House, The Bank of India, Facebook, MySpace and at least ten of the AFL team Web sites.
ZDNet.com.au has compiled this guide to help you understand, and better deal with, the threat from drive-by downloads.
Security vendor Trend Micro's UK and Japanese Web sites were hacked last week; attackers managed to inject malicious iFrames into their "virus encyclopaedia" pages.
Unpatched PCs running Internet Explorer could fall victim to adware when visiting social networking site Facebook.
Security experts are warning Bank of India customers to steer clear of its official Web site because it is serving up several information-stealing Trojans.
Google has flagged the Web sites of 10 Australian Football League (AFL) clubs as potentially dangerous, preventing visitors from accessing the teams' sites via the search engine.
Sun has denied its staggered patching schedule for a recent Java flaw put billions of devices at risk.
Recently fixed vulnerabilities in Sun's Java Runtime Environment and Adobe's Flash player mean that unpatched systems are vulnerable and could be infected with spyware or recruited into a botnet by simply visiting a Web page with exploit code -- and Google last month warned that 10 percent of Web sites contain this kind of malicious code.
The Web site of the Sydney landmark has been found to harbour malware but it has been described as an "irritant" rather than a "major security risk".
Microsoft's release of a "critical" patch on Tuesday poked holes in Vista's security promises, but security experts advise against discounting the new operating system.
Between 2006 and 2007, there was an almost threefold rise in flaws found in Microsoft software, according to vulnerability-scanning company Qualys.
Security research firm Secunia has reported what it calls an "extremely critical" vulnerability in media-streaming program Apple QuickTime.
On Monday, Adobe patched vulnerabilities in versions 8.1 and earlier of its Acrobat and Acrobat Reader. If exploited, an attacker could launch malicious code on an affected system.
Researchers have found some holes in Google's Android SDK that could make the software vulnerable to hack attacks.
Skype has fixed a critical security hole in the latest version of its Windows VoIP software, which could have allowed specially crafted Web sites to load and run malicious code on victims' PCs.
Vulnerability-testing company Secunia has slammed one security vendor for having "inherent code problems" in its backup and antivirus software.
Researchers have shown how to exploit a flaw within QuickTime, allowing an attacker to make money stealing from innocent Second Life victims.
With one new Web site compromised every 14 seconds, including some of the biggest names, it's almost impossible to tell what's a "trustworthy" Web site. But who's at fault for exposing Internet users?
Restricting your Web surfing to "trusted" sites is no longer enough to keep your machine safe from malware, according to security experts.
Cybercrooks who rig Web sites to break into PCs are getting better at hiding their malicious code, a security expert said this week.
Security experts demand more vigilance by Web-hosts to curb the explosion in malware-infected Web sites, which are appearing at a rate of 30,000 per day, according to Sophos.
Internet-borne security threats have taken over the mantle as a greater risk to companies' security than e-mail attacks, according to security vendor Sophos.
Cyberattacks today have become so complex that there may be no real way to completely protect against them, internet security researchers have warned.
Disabling the majority of features in a Web browser may be the safest bet to keep malicious hackers at bay, says a US based IT security watchdog.
Web application vulnerabilities are simple to fix but they're here to stay and will likely get worse, say security analysts.
If Mac users fall for scams that PC users have faced for years, it wont be long before money-hungry crime gangs exploit them, say security experts.
"Lighter" is the key word Symantec hopes customers will feel when installing Norton 360 version 2.0, which is the company's security and backup system for small business and home users that was launched today.
Go to next page for related feature articles and Whitepapers.
Security researchers worked overtime in 2007, which turned out to be a nightmare for software vendors from day one. In January alone, Apple, Google, Microsoft and Adobe were just some of the household names embarrassed for leaving gaping holes in their products.
We sat down with security analyst Andrew Walls at Gartner ITExpo and asked him how Web 2.0 affects application security.
Apple computers have built a solid reputation on being virus-free, but is the reality different from the image?
While they present a wonderful opportunity to meet people with similar interests, sites like MySpace, Facebook, and even LinkedIn can also cause trouble.
The thriving community of Internet users that are opting for a 'Second Life' in virtual worlds are a tempting market for advertising. But is a virtual presence a viable option for big business?
Kimmo Alkio takes stock of the current state of hackers, attackers, dot-bank domains and mobile phone viruses.
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