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McAfee lists the most dangerous Web domains

December 2, 2009 | 12:01 am

McAfee is releasing a list today that shows which international Web domains are the most perilous.

The anti-virus software developer analyzed more than 27 million country and generic Web domains for browser exploits, phishing, excessive pop-ups and malicious downloading.

The study found that Cameroon (.cm) has the riskiest Web domain, with 36.7% of its sites posing security risks.

"Because the domain .cm is a common typo for .com, many cybercriminals set up fake typo-squatting sites that lead to malicious downloads, spyware, adware and other potentially unwanted programs," McAfee says in a press release.

The next four most dangerous country domains are China (.cn), Samoa (.ws), the Philippines (.ph) and the former Soviet Union (.su).

In 2008, Hong Kong's domain (.hk) topped the list, but this year it came in 34th after officials there took action.

McAfee senior research analyst Shane Keats said that bad guys look for low cost, ease of registration and lack of regulation when picking a domain to exploit. He added that Hong Kong probably increased costs, demanded information (such as proof of residency, a valid phone number and address) from users and increased the take-down speed for dangerous websites.

The safest country domain, with only 0.1% of its sites posing security threats, belongs to Japan (.jp). It was followed on McAfee's list by Ireland (.ie), Croatia (.hr), Luxembourg (.lu) and Vanuatu (,vu).

The safest non-country domain is .gov. The most heavily trafficked domain, .com, is the second-most dangerous domain.

Malicious websites range in their capacity to devastate, Keats said. Some just harass you with endless pop-ups, others can infect your computer with viruses and some can compromise your identity by emulating banking websites. 

To see the full report go to www.mcafee.com.

-- Melissa Rohlin

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