San Francisco, California–Malware is everywhere, according to a report by Cisco systems regarding internet threats and cyber security. While it’s widely accepted that potential hacks and breaches are found on sketchy sites, legitimate websites constitute the largest source of malware.
In its annual security report, the networking equipment giant found that internet users are 21 more times likely to have their desktop or laptop computers, smartphones or tablets infected on popular shopping sites than on platforms for illegal file downloads.
“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, Cisco senior security researcher.
The biggest surprise is that online consumers and surfers aren’t at-risk because of the sites they visit. In reality, the sites themselves have little to do with infectious code. It’s the ads on legitimate sites which are the actual threat.
“Our data reveals the truth of this outdated notion, as Web malware encounters are typically not the by-product of ‘bad’ sites in today’s threat landscape. Dangers are often hidden in plain sight through exploit laden online ads,” the report stated.
The reason is simple: highly trafficked sites are a bigger target. The more vast the audience, the more potential infections can occur–and that’s the point behind malware–to spread as far and wide as possible. Because of this aim, Android devices are increasingly the most targeted.
Infected iFrames are most often used, comprising 83 percent of all malicious scripts and 10 percent of all attacks hit their targets at least twice with a follow-up data-thieving Trojan, worm or virus.