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After spamming, hackers to use Obama to target sites

Cyber criminals will increasingly hack into legitimate sites to host malware and by the end of 2009. Laptop etiquette I Gadgets that aren't selling I Tips for managing email

, ET Bureau|
Nov 13, 2008, 01.57 AM IST
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PUNE: Following the use of the Obama euphoria for spamming and virus attacks, websites would be the next target for hackers. Network security companies believe that cyber criminals will increasingly hack into legitimate sites to host malware and by the end of 2009, compromised legitimate websites will host almost half of all web-borne malware. With organisations and their employees increasingly adopting Web 2.0 technologies for legitimate business reasons, the threat could be more severe.

During the past six months, 75% of the malware hosting websites were found to be compromised legitimate sites. Web and data security company Websense recently found the web site of Brazil Embassy in India being compromised. The hackers had put in malicious links onto the website which directed the website visitors to fake anti-virus removal software sites which delivered malicious code. The website of MCCIA, an association of industries in and around Pune, was also found to host malware but was later secured.

An official from Secure Computing, a security solutions company said that compromised legitimate websites would be an attractive target for criminals as it is becoming increasingly difficult for criminals to purchase malware hosting services from companies that once looked the other way.

Surendra Singh, Regional Director, SAARC and India, Websense, said ���Cyber-criminals will work on the psychology of users who will now not go on unknown or suspicious websites. So it is easier for them if they are present on legitimate websites. With companies increasingly using Web 2.0 technologies, which allow content to be uploaded by users, it is even more easier for them to host their malicious content on legitimate sites.��� Mr Singh added that social networking sites are more prone to host malware. 60 percent of the top 100 most popular Web sites have either hosted or been involved in malicious activity in 2008. 12 percent of Web sites infected with malicious code were created using Web malware exploitation kits, a decrease of 33 percent since December 2007. Websense researchers believe this decrease may be attributed to attackers launching more customised attacks to avoid signature detection by security measures.

A spokesperson of software data security major Symantec, too confirmed that malware attacks using legitimate websites would be prevalent in 2009. ���Earlier a user had to visit a dangerous website to be affected and a hacker had to take some efforts to lure a web user to the site. Now since the hackers is on a legitimate site, he readily has a critical mass of users available. So that reduces his efforts and makes his work easier. Many websites we compromised by hackers in 2008. Using legitimate websites can often make it harder to trace some of these hijackers. Websites in the banking, financial services, insurance along with travel would be high on such risk, in 2009.���
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