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BizReport : Internet : April 01, 2009

MessageLabs: March sees big rise in malicious websites

Almost 3,000 potentially malicious websites were blocked each day by MessageLabs during March this year. That's almost three times the number blocked during February.

by Helen Leggatt

messagelabs_logo.gifCyber crooks are changing tactics and focussing their malevolence on web servers and SQL injection attacks, says MessageLabs' senior analyst, Paul Wood. However, the amount of email containing links to malicious sites in March reached the highest level since June last year, up 16.5%.

While the problem is a global concern, the worst affected areas were throughout Asia-Pacific with Australia, Hong Kong, China, India and Japan receiving the highest amount of spam.

An iconic virus, Melissa, turns 10 years old this year. A decade ago, this virus was credited with being the first to make use of botnets and even today, MessageLabs still encounters about 10 occurrences of the virus each month.

"Melissa was the virus equivalent of the supermodels from the 90's, known by one name and iconic within the industry," said Alex Shipp, senior director at MessageLabs. "This was the first attack of this magnitude and I remember that when the numbers reached the hundreds within the first hour of stopping Melissa, which were significant levels in 1999, we knew the threat landscape had changed evermore."

Since intercepting the virus in March 1999, MessageLabs' Anti-Virus service has stopped 108 different strains and more than 100,000 copies of the virus, claims the company.

Google has also noticed the return to pre-McColo spam rates, saying that spammers have almost fully recovered from the shutdown of the notorious web-hosting firm.

Tags: botnet, mal-ware, malicious websites, McColo, Melissa, MessageLabs, spam, spammers, virus

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