The number of malicious websites has increased more than 110% between 2009 and 2010, according to the Websense 2010 Threat Report.
The report illustrates how pervasive the problem is as criminal networks have become much more sophisticated when it comes to disguising the threat-laden sites as legitimate destinations, as well as enhancing their search engine optimization (SEO) techniques.
"Many of the 2010 SEO attacks were blended in nature, with a second component consisting of Rogue AV," the report indicates. "Both approaches used bogus AV campaigns offering free health scans that identified fake infections..."
When surfers are cruising the web for breaking news over their morning coffee, they now have a 22% chance of running into a website containing viruses and malware, an even greater chance than if they were searching online porn sites.
The report further predicts more advancements in SEO and blended attacks, and named the United States as the number one producer of crimeware worldwide.
The dramatic increase in both the number of malicious sites and their level of sophistication should prompt every Internet user to double check that their antivirus and antispyware software is current, and that they are set to automatically update.
Use caution when surfing unfamiliar sites, never click on "free" virus or spyware scan alert pop-ups, and be wary of automatic redirects by keeping your browser address bar visible.