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9/18/2007
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Cybercriminals Lurk In Dark Corners Of Trusted Web Sites

Think you're safe on your favorite Web site? You might want to think again. Symantec reports cybercriminals are increasingly exploiting them to target trusting users.

Like animal predators lying in wait for their prey to come to them, cybercriminals are increasingly exploiting trusted environments to target their victims.

That's the word from Symantec's latest Internet Security Threat Report, which was released this week. The report shows that between Jan. 1 and June 30, Symantec found attackers increasingly targeting victims by exploiting vulnerabilities in trusted environments, such as popular financial, social networking, and career recruitment Web sites.

Symantec also reported that 61% of all vulnerabilities disclosed were in Web applications. Once a trusted Web site has been compromised, criminals can use it as a base for distributing malicious code to users visiting the site.

Just last week, hackers attacked the Web site for the U.S. Consulate in Russia, planting malicious code that would infect visitors. And several weeks before that, hackers stole more than a million pieces of information on people using two online job sites that ran a fraudulent ad infected with the Prg Trojan.

"This attack method allows cybercriminals to wait for their victims to come to them versus actively seeking out targets," researchers noted in the Threat Report. "Social networking Web sites are particularly valuable to attackers since they provide access to a large number of people, many of whom trust the site and its security. These Web sites can also expose a lot of confidential user information that can then be used in attempts to conduct identity theft, online fraud, or to provide access to other Web sites from which attackers can deploy further attacks."

The threat report also noted that cybercriminals are continuing to become more professional -- even commercializing their efforts. They're taking a business approach to the development, distribution, and use of malicious code.

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