There may have been a time when the term ‘Internet Speed’ didn’t apply to security. Maybe in 1993, before Mosaic/Netscape changed the face of the Web. Threats changed, but maybe back then, the changes were slow enough that the experts could keep track of most of this stuff in their heads.
Last March, we released a study called Mapping the Mal Web. It basically sorted SiteAdvisor’s huge database of test results by country. Tokelau, a tiny Pacific island nation, was the most risky Top Level Domain in our database.
What a difference a year makes. We just released Mapping the Mal Web, Revisited and Tokelau (which took a big public hit last year for its top ranking) dropped to 28th place. This year, moving up from 28th place to earn a top score that no TLD wants – Hong Kong (.hk).
You can read or download a copy of the report here. What we found fascinating was how fluid risk is. There were a number of domains that were very risky or very safe in 2007 that reversed in 2008. Improvements and declines in overall risk of 10%, 20% or even 30% were not uncommon.
Here’s an analogy. Think of the Web as a big house with 265 windows and doors – each one representing a different TLD. The bad guys (who are always looking for new places to burgle) are constantly tapping around the house looking for a weak spot. They finally get into the house via a basement window that was left unlocked. Last year, that basement window was .tk. This year, it’s .hk.
The fascinating thing is that we fully expect .hk to improve significantly in next year’s report. In fact, by mid summer 2007, .hk realized they’d made some registry changes that were inadvertently encouraging bad guys to set up shop in .hk and they instituted corrective measures. We look forward to seeing their risk rank plummet in ’09!
Bottom line – the Web is wonderful AND risky. Use a safe search tool like SiteAdvisor, make sure your security suite is up to date, and don’t assume what was true last year holds true today.