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WOT study sheds light on the dark corners of the Internet

Helsinki, Finland February 7, 2008

The 3 categories of websites causing most damage to users

Websites offering adult content (28% of the dangerous sites analyzed), software (27%), and entertainment (16%) are the most dangerous for Internet users. These sites cause major damage both financially and to computers. These are the findings of an analysis carried out by WOT, Web of Trust. The study is based on analysis of 17 million websites rated by the WOT user community. (www.mywot.com)

News facts

The study revealed the largest three categories among risky websites:

  • Adult content: 28% of the dangerous sites analyzed
  • Software: 27% (free and licensed software sold and downloaded over the Internet)
  • Entertainment: 16% (movies, games, music, screensavers, smileys)

Other dangerous categories include search sites, digital marketing providers, and consumer research sites making empty promises of free gifts or money.

The main vehicle in the above scams is a permanent website, unlike the “throwaway” sites used in phishing attacks carried out with the aid of fraudulent email messages. Dangerous sites usually remain in business for months or years, attracting millions of visitors and causing them damage.

The nature of this damage is twofold:

  • Direct financial damage is caused by non-delivered or poor-quality products, by lack of payment, or through credit/debit card fraud.
  • Computer damage is caused by installing malicious software or changing the computer’s settings. Increasing online threats include spyware that makes the user vulnerable to further attacks.

This information, collected in January 2008, covers websites with a poor reputation and active website traffic.

The 50 websites with the worst reputation

A list of dangerous sites is available at http://www.mywot.com/en/press/fiftydangeroussites.

Quotes

“With this study we wanted to shed light on the dark corners of the Internet. The findings show that Internet users should be really cautious when downloading software, movies, music, and screensavers, not to mention when visiting sites with adult content,” says Esa Suurio, CEO of Against Intuition, Inc. “Many of the dangerous websites are well designed and seem reliable, but if you download content from them you may run into problems, even with the latest security software installed on your PC. In particular, spyware can bypass security controls, leaving your computer vulnerable to further attacks.”

“For us, WOT (Web of Trust) is really about creating a platform for people to share their experience of companies, their websites, and the products they offer. Once Internet users adopt this approach, fraudulent and harmful sites will be short-lived,” says Suurio.

Terminology

Spyware is software that runs on a computer without the permission of its user(s). It tracks users’ online activities, gathers private information from a user’s computer, and sends the resulting data back to the spyware manufacturer over the Internet. Spyware programs can interfere with user control of the computer in other ways also, such as by installing additional software or redirecting web browser activity. Spyware can even change computer settings, resulting in slow connection speeds, a different home page, and loss of Internet or other programs.

Adware is software that automatically displays or downloads advertising material after the software is installed or while the application is being used. Some types of adware are also spyware.

Phishing, the most frequently discussed type of Internet fraud, is an attempt to acquire sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details, by pretending to be a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. Phishing is typically carried out by email that directs the user to visit a bogus website. Common targets of forgery in phishing attacks are PayPal, eBay, and online banks. Usually each phishing attack uses a different short-term website address.

Photos

Images of sample screens of WOT reputation ratings can be downloaded from Flickr, as well as company logos and hi-res pictures of staff.

Videos

A WOT demo video shows how WOT works in practice.

Market facts, relevant links, and research on Internet safety

My WOT on del.icio.us

Technorati links

Find blogs about WOT Find videos related to WOT Find photos related to WOT Technorati tags: WOT, Web of Trust, MyWOT, mywot.com, reputation rating, reputation system, reputation measurement, online reputation, online security, Internet security, online safety, Internet safety, browser extension, Firefox extension, Internet Explorer extension, browser add-on, Firefox add-on, Internet Explorer add-on, anti-spam, anti-phishing, phishing protection, fraud protection, child safety, Against Intuition, content filtering

Boilerplate

WOT, Web of Trust WOT, for "Web of Trust," is the world's first online reputation rating community. It allows Internet users to assess the trustworthiness of websites. WOT is becoming the collective conscience of the web.

Becoming a WOT member is free

  • Becoming a member and downloading WOT is free, no registration required.
  • WOT is compatible with the Internet Explorer® and Firefox browsers.
  • All members can submit website ratings but are not obliged to do so.

Contact details and spokesperson

Name: Esa Suurio, CEO Phone: +358 40 716 9301 Address: WOT / Against Intuition, Inc.; Itälahdenkatu 27 A; 00210 Helsinki; Finland Email: esa.suurio@mywot.com