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McAfee maps web danger zones

According to a McAfee survey of 265 top-level domains, Romanian and Russian domains are the most likely to host malicious downloads, browser exploits and scams.

According to a McAfee survey of 265 top-level domains, Romanian and Russian domains are the most likely to host malicious downloads, browser exploits and scams.

The survey - dubbed Mapping the Mal Web - revealed considerable differences in safety from one domain to another. According to its findings, Romania (.ro) and Russia (.ru) are the most risky large country domains, with 5.6% of .ro sites and 4.5% of .ru being flagged as high risk. On the other hand, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Ireland were found to have the safest domains.

“For administrators of top-level domains, this study should serve as a wake-up call. Clearly, some countries are getting it right. And the more risky top-level domains now have the role models they need to improve,” stated Mark Maxwell, a senior product manager at McAfee. “When it comes to safety, it turns out that the web is no different than the physical world. There are safe neighborhoods and safe web domains, and then there are places no one should ever visit.”

McAfee used its SiteAdvisor tool, which is freely available to consumers and businesses, to analyse and rank 265 top-level domains including Japan (.jp), France (.fr), and commercial (.com). The tool automatically tests websites for a broad range of potential security problems such as exploits, downloads containing spyware, adware, and or other unwanted programs and pop-ups.

McAfee’s report reveals that the incidence of red (high risk) and yellow (medium risk) websites varies dramatically across top-level domains, ranging from a low of 0.1% for Finland (.fi) to a high of 10.1% for the tiny island of Tokelau (.tk).

Certain web activities, such as signing-up at a site or downloading a file, are significantly more risky when carried out at certain domains, the report also notes. For instance, entering an e-mail address at a random .info domain results in a 73.2% chance of being spammed.

The .info domain is the most dangerous generic domain, with 7.5% of its sites rated as risky, according to the study.

The complete study and its findings, along with an interactive map are available here.

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