Symantec has identified the "Dirtiest Web Sites of Summer 2009," the 100 sites with the most threats detected by site ratings service Norton Safe Web as of August 2009.
The company says these sites represent the "worst of the worst" based on the number of threats detected by Norton Safe Web.
It is no surprise that 48 percent of the Dirtiest Web Sites feature adult content. However, the remainder of the list runs the gamut of subject matter, including sites dedicated to deer hunting, catering, figure skating, legal services, and buying electronics.
Malware is the most common threat represented on the Dirtiest list, followed by security risks and browser exploits. Simply visiting one of these sites, without downloading or clicking on anything in particular, could put users at risk of exposing their computers to infection, and worse, put your identity, personal and financial information into the hands of cybercriminals.
"This list underscores what our research shows -- there has been exponential growth in the number of online threats that are constantly evolving as cybercriminals look for new ways to target your money, identity or assets. In 2008, most new infections occurred while people were surfing the Web," said Rowan Trollope, senior vice president, Consumer Business Unit, Symantec. "Norton Safe Web provides visual ratings that let consumers know about potential risks before visiting a site. Armed with this information, consumers are empowered to make informed decisions about which sites to visit."
What makes these sites so dirty? For starters, the average number of threats per malicious site rated by Norton Safe Web is 23. Compare that with the average number of threats on the Dirtiest Web Sites list -- a staggering 18,000 per site. In fact, 40 of the 100 Dirtiest Web Sites have more than 20,000 threats per site. Being dirty is nothing new for 75 percent of sites on the list, which have distributed malware for more than six months.
To find the dirt, Norton Safe Web crawls the Web and performs analysis of millions of Web sites, and benefits from a network of more than 20 million Norton Community Watch members that automatically submit suspicious URLs for analysis in real-time. Norton Safe Web analyzes websites using signature-based file scanning, intrusion detection engines, behavioral detection and install/uninstall analysis to identify security risks including phishing sites, malicious downloads, browser exploits and links to unsafe external sites. In other words -- dirty stuff you don't want on your computer.