Under the Web

Some interesting things in life and internet

Virus and Spyware Hackers Target Legitimate Websites

Posted by Jackie R. on May 9, 2007

Malicious software on the Internet has more than doubled in the last year and it’s expected to continue to increase as hackers become more and more sophisticated in the techniques they use to deliver viruses, spyware, worms, Trojans and adware to the Internet.

According to a recent report by Sophos, this growth in malware on the web is due to a new movement whereby hackers place malware on websites rather than using email attachments. Sophos estimates an average of 5,000 new infected web pages are unleashed onto the Internet everyday.

These are not hacker websites. The majority of them, 70% or more are legitimate sites that have been hacked and infected by cybercriminals. Three recent examples of this trend show how popular sites can become powerful spyware targets for hackers:

1. In November of 2006, hackers uploaded an article to the German edition of Wikipedia including a link to fix what the hackers called a new version of the “Blaster worm”. However, this fix was actually malicious code. Wikipedia removed the page as soon as they discovered the security issue. But, the hackers used this code to send spam pointing to the archived Wikipedia page and continued infecting users’ computers.

2. In December of 2006, hackers used the Myspace social networking site to infect hundreds of user profiles with a worm. This malware replaced legitimate links in the users’ profiles with links to phishing sites, where Myspace users were asked to submit their usernames and passwords. The phishing worm also embedded itself into the Myspace victims’ user profiles.

3. The most recent and famous incident occurred in February before the Super Bowl this year, when hackers connected the Dolphin Stadium website to a server in China to gain access codes to the popular online role-playing game, “World of Warcraft”.

Even websites using privacy certificates are no longer safe. A recent study by Internet Security expert, Ben Edelman alleges that cites featuring the TRUSTe security certificate are actually twice as likely to contain viruses, spyware, and adware as non-certified sites.

Many adware providers, like Direct-revenue and Webhancer are even using these certificates in an attempt to seem more trustworthy than they actually are, according to Edelman.

There is a transition in the Internet community toward a new web platform called Web 2.0. This term refers to a second-generation of Web based communities and hosted services (like Myspace, Facebook and Yahoo 360) that facilitate collaboration and sharing between users. The transition to Web 2.0 make websites an even easier target for hackers, as users of these social networking sites tend to be young people less concerned with computer security than with swapping and trading files with their friends. The term Web 2.0 was first coined by the O’reilly Media Group.

Hackers will undoubtedly continue to target websites for delivering their virus, spyware, adware, Trojans and other malware. With this new development, any website on the Internet has the potential to be infected. Therefore, protecting your computer is essential.

To protect your computer, it is vital that you use a powerful antivirus and antispyware scanner like StopSign, update your virus definitions daily, scan your computer once a day for infections and keep all of your software patched and up-to-date.

Jason Dick is an Internet Security Specialist. Mr. Dick is a Tier-3 certified antivirus technician with extensive experience creating customized antivirus solutions for new and resistant spyware and virus infections. In addition, he has spent several years consulting with the average home computer user helping them get the most from their Internet Security Software. He is currently writing a number of articles regarding responsible computer use, internet security, spyware and virus trends and other pertinent technology news to share his knowledge and expertise.To read more of Jason’s articles visit:http://home.stopsign.com


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