Cisco Claims that Business Sites Deliver More Malware Than Porn Sites

In Featured on App, Marketing and Sales by Vaughn HighfieldLeave a Comment

Wall Street Journal, Cisco, Censored, Malware, Mary Landersman

You might want to make sure you get yourself checked out

Please, sit down, I’ve got something to tell you. You, um, might want to get a check up? After all, I’ve just discovered that I’ve attained a virus from you. Well, not from you, but from your website. More specifically that banner ad you had running, trying to entice me in with the delights of an ‘awesome’ product that could ‘revolutionise’ my life. Well, it’s certainly changed how I view pages on the internet.

All joking aside, it seems that Cisco has discovered that malware is more likely to come from a reputable site’s advertising rather than from a questionable source – i.e. a pornography or illegal pharmaceuticals site.

“Web malware encounters occur everywhere people visit on the Internet – including the most legitimate of websites that they visit frequently, even for business purposes,” said Mary Landesman, Senior Security Researcher with Cisco, in Cisco’s Annual Security Report. “Indeed, business and industry sites are one of the top three categories visited when a malware encounter occurred. Of course, this isn’t the result of business sites that are designed to be malicious.”

This isn’t a concious decision by business sites though, the vast majority of them have no idea this is the case – after all, the banner advertising is usually sourced by a different company and the malware is hiding in whatever website is behind the advert link.

“In malvertising, for example, the encounter typically occurs when visiting a reputable, legitimate website that happens to carry third-party advertising,” reads the report “However, the actual malware intended for delivery is hosted on a completely different domain. Since our data is based on where the encounter occurred, it has no bearing on actual malware origin. For instance, increased popularity of social media and entertainment sites in Denmark and Sweden, coupled with malvertising risks, is largely responsible for increased encounters from sites hosted in those regions but is not indicative of actual malware origin.”

It seems that online advertising is the second-most likely source of malware exposure, accounting for 16.8 per cent of all malware found in the study. However, Cisco says that Dynamic content and content delivery networks are at the top of the list with 18.3 per cent. Business and industry sites ranked thrid with 8.15 per cent; online games hit 6.51 per cent; web hosting sites came in with 4..98 per cent and search engines and portals rounded out the top six sources of malware with 4.53 per cent.

It’s not unsurprising that this shift is most likely due to criminals deciding that they need to move their focus onto the more popular and traffic-heavy sites to gain any traction and create a successful ‘business’.

The lesson here for marketers is, make sure you check all the banner ads on your site and ensure that any tools you have that serve your customers up randomised adverts are actually checked properly. Remember, you can always filter out certain content.

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