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Beware: Most Malware Found on Legitimate Websites

If someone were to ask you what websites you were most likely to catch viruses from, what would you say? Most people answer with one of the follow: adult websites, illegal substances and piracy websites. New research, however, suggests that it’s actually legitimate websites that pose the biggest risk.

Now don’t worry – we’re not talking about Google, Facebook or any of the big websites. You’re not going to check your bank balance and come away with a trojan horse. But you might find that on smaller legitimate sites, not everything is as safe as it first seemed.

According to Cisco’s Annual Security Report, malware is more likely to come from advertisements on seemingly legitimate sites that some sites traditionally thought of as high-risk.

In fact, “business and industry” websites are now in the top-three types of site with a malware risk. This doesn’t mean that these sites are designed for malware, however. It’s more likely that they host advertisements that are allowing remote access to malware hosted elsewhere.

Advertisements in general are the second-most likely source of malware exposure, accounting for 16.8% of all malware found in the study. Top came dynamic content and content delivery networks, while online games, web hosting and search engines made up the rest of the top six.

It’s worrying – but not unexpected – to see online games so high up the list. With 6.51% of malware exposure coming from online games sites, which largely target younger users who are less likely to be as experienced at avoiding malware, it’s a huge problem for families with household, rather than individual computers.

For example, imagine a younger computer user get infected from a games site without their family members knowing. The next time another family member logs in, the malware could then mine their private data, including email, bank and social network passwords.

So remember, no matter how safe you think you are, sensible browsing is not the cure. It’s much safer to ensure you have efficient anti-virus protection installed.

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