Malicious Websites: The Web is a Dangerous Place

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Robert Siciliano

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McAfee’s latest Threats Report shows a growth in malicious websites replacing botnets as the primary infection mechanism. This means that by just simply visiting a website you could be exposed to malicious things that can do harm to your computer, mobile device, finances or identity.

Websites with bad reputations are influenced by the hosting of malicious software (malware), potentially unwanted programs, or phishing sites. By the end of June 2012, the total number of bad URLs referenced by McAfee Labs™ overtook 36 million!

This quarter McAfee recorded an average of 2.7 million new bad URLs per month. Of the new bad-reputation URLs, 94.2% host malware that have been specifically designed to hijack your computer.

It is important to make sure you are aware of things that can happen when you are exposed to a malicious site. The web is a dangerous place for the uninformed and unprotected. Protect yourself:

Make sure your OS is updated: Keeping your operating system updated is a must to protect against security threats. The updates protect you from any known holes that could expose you.

Keep your browser updated: Running the latest versions of the browser also help to protect you against threats that you could be exposed to.

Use security software: Having up to date comprehensive security software is a must. It should include antivirus, anti-spyware, anti-spam, anti-phishing, a firewall and a safe search tool.

Use strong passwords: Little yellow sticky notes on your monitor with your passwords isn’t good. Use a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols that are at least 8 characters in length. Also use different passwords for each of your accounts and if possible consider changing them up every 6 months.

Stay educated: Make sure you stay up to date on the latest tricks and tools that hackers use by reading blogs, and getting tips from trusted security sources.

Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Evangelist to McAfee. Watch him discussing information he found on used electronic devices YouTube. (Disclosures)

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Cody Renden "Little yellow sticky notes on your monitor with your passwords isn’t good."

I've always found this advice outdated. How many viruses have the capability to read my sticky notes that aren't in view of a webcam...

Obviously, there is some increased risk here if someone breaks in. And definitely if you're a valuable target for data theft this is a bad idea. However, for 99.9% of people I'm pretty sure if someone breaks into your house I doubt your passwords are your first concern.

Wouldn't you just log on, change all your passwords immediately, and call the police? More importantly, you would know your passwords are compromised so you can change them.
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Robert Siciliano Cody,
Ever walk through an office space full of cubicles? Count how many have their passwords on little yellow sticky's. Its a bit insane. A disgruntled employee or even one that wants to pay a joke can cause irreversible havoc. And did I mention the cleaning people? Or the security guard? Or the cleaning person hired that really is a spy for a foreign government??
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