Dangers on the Web Continue to Grow

By: Warren Franklin

New web pages are being infected at a rate of one every five seconds making staying safe on the Internet more of a hassle than ever before.

The first quarter 2008 security threat report from Sophos Labs is enough to make you never want to go on the Internet again. The Internet dangers are ever growing and the report reveals cyber criminals aren't slowing down making keeping your computer safe on the Internet harder than ever.

The report looked at the events and trends that emerged during the first quarter of 2008 with the goal to help users and businesses keep abreast of today's Internet threats in order to better defend against an attack.

The Internet

Alarming was the revelation that the web now hosts an unprecedented number of Internet threats, with Sophos discovering a new infected web page every five seconds. This is an average of more than 15,000 every day. This compares to their 2007 report when Sophos Labs reported they discovered a new infected web page every 14 seconds. They report that 79 percent of these pages are legitimate sites.

Even scarier is these infected sites are not just "mom and pop" sites. Many of these sites are well established including well-known spyware companies Trend Micro and Symantec. So, just going to what you might consider to be safe websites isn't as safe as you might think.

Email

The good news: The Sophos report stated that only one in 2500 emails was found to be carrying malware. That's 40 percent less than in 2007.

The bad news: Cyber criminals, instead of incorporating malware into the email in the form of an attachment, are now using unsolicited email to provide links to compromised web sites.

Sophos points out that there is still a common belief that unsolicited email, or spam, is not a threat. With a large portion of unsolicited or spam email linking to infected websites, they say, individuals and small business would be wise to address this growing computer problem before becoming a victim.

Spam and Phishing

Sophos Labs revealed in their report that only 7.7 percent of all email was considered not to be spam.

That means over 92 percent of all email was spam in the first quarter of 2008. They add that they find a new spam-related web page on average every three seconds including pages registered on "free web" sites, such as Blogspot, Geocities, and more. Sophos goes on to predict this number will increase so long as its authors are making money from such ruses.

Meanwhile, the report states that phishing remains a big computer problem for banks and other financial institutions. Large online companies, like Ebay and PayPal, were targeted 59 percent of the time in 2007. In 2008 this has dropped to just over 15 percent. They cite heightened user awareness as a possible reason for phishers looking elsewhere to lure unsuspecting victims to bogus sites.

The future

Sophos points out that just as technological advancements help legitimate marketers and sales teams to focus on their efforts on specific markets quickly, efficiently and cost effectively, they have made life easier for hackers. For both the good and the bad guys, improved technology has led to improved return on investment.

The reports says, "this is not the time for individuals and companies to bury their heads in the sand and hope no one notices any gaping security holes. Today, attacks are sophisticated, well funded and large."

The effect

The First Quarter 2008 Sophos report should open your eyes to the fact that traditional over-the-counter products aren't keeping up with the cyber criminals of today. If they were, would we continue have these computer problems?

The malware placed on computers through infected websites and other sources is causing all kinds of computer problems. As a result computers run slower or crash, things like the computer mouse doesn't work right or it moves on its own. There are more frequent pop ups, spam and phishing email and more.

Many people don't recognize these common computer problems as being caused by hacker tools. They don't understand that their computer could be a tool used by cyber criminals to perform their bad deeds. The sad truth is millions of computers in the United States are unknowingly compromised and used by the bad guys without the computer owner knowing it. These individuals are unwittingly contributing to cyber crime.

What is even worse is the indifference most computer owners have today. As long as they can't see the cyber criminal the feeling is everything is OK. As long as the computer can limp along there's no need to worry about it. Many count on a so-called tech friend to fix a computer problem. It is a temporary fix at best and usually doesn't solve the crux of the problem which is a hacker has taken control of the computer and will continue to us it to perform cyber crime until a complete fix has taken place.

What should you do?

The computer problems we face today go well beyond just being careful. Individuals and small business must be proactive in their defense looking for the best kinds of computer protection. Safe guards must be in place for families and in the case of business, employees too.

All computer users (home and business) should seriously consider subscribing to a helpful new kind of computer support service known as "Personal Computer Services." The main benefit of this type of monthly service is that instead of you trying to keep your protection current and manage everything yourself, you get access to a team of trained professionals who personally handle everything for you. Your personal computer service should include industrial grade security software for your computer as well as security checkups, system cleanups, and online repair at no additional cost. This type of service is not available through freeware and traditional over-the-counter computer protection products.

The security software and services that come with a personal computer service will help block hackers from your computer and make your experience on the computer fun, productive and hassle-free. With this new personal computer service, you'll also eliminate most of the common hassles and headaches with your computer , allowing you to focus more on your home and business activities.

About Sophos: Trusted by 100 million users and endorsed by industry analysts as a real alternative to Symantec and McAfee, they provide the best defense against today's blended threats.

Security
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 

» More on Security