Africa, Iraq, Cuba Safer than US for Sites?

    May 23, 2007

Google launched its Online Security Blog this week. Their first post took a look at compromised websites and malware around the world.

Both in the distribution of malware servers and in the locations of compromised websites, Iraq, Cuba, most of Africa and several other countries in South America and Asia were rated “green,” meaning that there were incidences. China, the United States and Russia, respectively, fared worst in these categories.

Google’s not just sharing this tidbit so we can all look cool at our next dinner party. They state that:

[A] sample-based analysis puts the fraction of malicious pages at roughly 0.1%. The analysis described in our paper covers billions of URLs. Using targeted feature extraction and classification, we select a subset of URLs believed to be suspicious for in-depth investigation. So far, we have investigated about 12 million suspicious URLs and found about 1 million that engage in drive-by downloads. In most cases, the web sites that infect your system with malware are not intentionally doing so and are often unaware that their web servers have been compromised.

They tout their anti-malware efforts, will warn you if search results are potentially dangerous and can prevent malicious downloads with Google Desktop. Additionally, they recommend that you keep your browser and OS updated with all the latest security patches. If you’re really worried, they say:

If you want to be really sure that your system does not become permanently compromised, you might even want to run your browser in a virtual machine, which you can revert to a clean snapshot after every browsing session.

Sounds a little extreme to me—or can you never be too safe? What do you think?