Legitimate websites become targets for hackers

September 25, 2012

In the past year, data breaches on legitimate websites, like LinkedIn, LastFM.com, eHarmony and Yahoo, have made headlines, which has led to the development of technologies that prevent hackers from accessing personal information.

According to the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) hackers are successfully exploiting legitimate websites as a way to spread malware because of a lack of proper network security measures. The APWG Internet Policy Committee conducted a survey of website managers that have been compromised in the past and used as a phishing target.

"Phishers continue to target legitimate websites because they are much harder for interveners to take down," said APWG Research Fellow Dave Piscitello. "They remain confident that they’ll be able to identify and exploit sites, and for good reason," reported Help Net Security.

How sites are infested
According to the research, hackers are most frequently using a PHP shell code, or a backdoor that can be employed at a later time. Other methods used to take control of websites include phishing kits that execute an attack, and email sending mechanisms that trigger an assault.

The sophisticated threats have become harder to recognize, and many website owners do not realize that their pages have been compromised by a cybercriminal until a third party identifies the breach. It can take between one and three days for an owner to deactivate a live page, according to the source.

Steps for security
One company has come up with a solution to help protect domains and the identities of website visitors. Computer Weekly reported that the new tool, created by 123-reg, offers owners an anti-malware site scanner software. If malicious code is inserted onto a site and identified by the software, the program will send an email urging the owner to remove the threat. The organization also ensures that the scanner will always be updated when a new malware is identified.

According to the Thomas Vollrath, the CEO of 123-reg's parent company, Host Europe Group, the number of legitimate sites targeted has rapidly increased. Corporate and e-commerce sites are not the only companies that should be aware of threats. Smaller sites are also at risk because there is a lower chance they are protected.

As data security becomes a major issue, it is up to the business owners to implement measures that prevent data breaches and identity theft. This latest tool offers a solution to data protection.

-McAfee Cloud Security