Hi-tech criminals target Vietnam

Tablets, Eyewire Many risky sites peddle pills via fake pharmaceutical stores

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The net domain reserved for Vietnam has become a haven of cyber crime, suggests research.

About 58% of the sites using Vietnam's .vn domain harboured malware found the McAfee report.

Those visiting the dangerous sites risk having sensitive data stolen or their computer being hijacked.

In all, it found, 6.2% of the 27 million live sites it tracks were found to be risky to visit. A figure up from 5.9% in 2009.

"The web is getting trickier to navigate safely," said the report which tried to compile a global snapshot of the criminal activity perpetrated via the net.

Sites risky to visit could host so-called drive-by downloads that exploit bugs to install attack code on a PC. Others may be fake pharmacy sites or host virus-ridden files.

Vietnam had only become a favourite with hi-tech criminals in 2010, said the report, as in 2009 the country's domain came 39th in the global risk ranking. By comparison, the UK is ranked as the 49th riskiest domain.

Explaining the surge in malicious activity, Paula Greve, director of web security research for McAfee Labs, said: "Cybercriminals target regions where registering sites is cheap and convenient and pose the least risk of being caught."

"A domain that's safe one year can be dangerous the next," she said.

About 15,000 of the 24,000 websites sitting on the .vn domain were home to criminal activity, said the report. Many .vn domains are used as re-direct points for other malicious sites or to control networks of hijacked computers or botnets.

Among generic domains, the .info suffix also proved popular in 2010 as the number of malicious sites on the domain grew by 94.5%. Spam gangs were using the implied authority of the .info name to lend credibility to sites peddling fake pills or bogus security software, it found.

Malicious sites hosted under the .com domain almost hit one million in 2010 with many being enrolled in long-running malware attacks.

For instance, said McAfee, many .com domains were involved in the Koobface virus outbreak which targeted Windows users who were heavy users of social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.

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