McAfee: Malware Hides Behind Legitimate Companies

By Matt Hines  |  Posted 2006-09-11 Email Print this article Print


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Trends in malware delivery include exploitation of affiliate advertising programs of legitimate Web sites, the anti-virus vendor says.

Individuals responsible for spreading nefarious adware and spyware programs are increasingly using legitimate Web sites to deliver their work to unsuspecting users, according to new research published by McAfee.

According to a report published by the anti-virus software maker on Sept. 11, adware and spyware brokers are more actively using the affiliate advertising programs offered by many Web sites to hide their code, leaving users exposed to unseen threats ultimately distributed by innocent companies.

McAfee, in Santa Clara, Calif., said the use of so-called online front companies, or Web sites made to appear as if they represent legitimate enterprises that have actually been built specifically to dispense malicious programs, is also on the rise among malware code writers.

Perhaps even more disturbing, given the existence of such fraudulent Web sites, was McAfee's finding that 97 percent of the people it recently surveyed could not differentiate consistently between legitimate URLs and sites created to spread adware and spyware.

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