Malware miasma - There's a Web page infected "every five seconds"

Hackers and other cyber-criminals have run amuck in the first half of 2008, infiltrating business networks - and infecting Web sites at a rate of one page every five seconds.

Most companies are not exercising the right policies or using the correct technology to ensure safe use of Web 2.0 sites, according to Websense. Cyber-criminals are focusing on that weak point, moving away from e-mail attacks that have become well-guarded against.

One step companies should take to secure their corporate networks is a well-managed Web browser policy, operated by a systems administrator.

Having a very recently patched browser with the right security options set can go a long way, the Sophos report recommends.

"It's a simple way of reducing the threat," Cluely says. "For too long, users have been able to run the asylum and decide what they install. The poor IT worker then has to provide technical support and it can be difficult."

New browsers such as Mozilla's Firefox 3 offer warnings when malware is detected on a site, he adds.

Administrators, the Sophos consultant said, should be able to make the decision to have everyone on the network use Firefox, or block older versions of Web browsers, if they see fit.

Companies that see their users involved in Web 2.0 sites often need to look at a security product that evaluates the content of the Web page, not just the URL, Hubbard says. It is a more flexible option than an outright ban on social networking sites.

"You can go to social networking sites, but you can't go to pages that have malicious code embedded in them," he says.

Companies should also have policies surrounding how employees can use the Web sites. Policies that dictate what users are allowed to post about a company should be enforced with some kind of retribution, Hubbard adds.

Some companies don't even allow employees to specify their employer on social networking sites. That might be a wise decision, considering the scams seen on business-oriented social networking site LinkedIn.

Cyber-criminals can use LinkedIn to get an effective corporate directory of your company and see the new people that join it, Cluely says.

"They can just e-mail these people claiming to be the head of HR, whose name they also know because of LinkedIn," he explains. "Before you know it, your new employees have shared information that is valuable to the criminals."

The latter half of 2008 will see cyber-criminal honing in on social networking sites to an even higher degree, security analysts predict. Even since the vendors' respective reports were completed, more high-profile threats have been seen on social networking sites.

A new worm targeting MySpace and Facebook users was detected by security vendor Kapersky Lab July 31. The worm - Networm.Win32.Koobface - recruits victim machines to form a botnet.

The worm creates messages on user profiles that contains a link to a fake video clip, where the user is prompted to download the latest version of Flash Player. But instead, the user unwittingly installs the network worm.

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Brian Jackson

ITBusiness.ca

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