Report: Government domains safe—unless it's Romania

Government domains are the safest out there, McAfee reported on March 12—unless your definition of "government" includes countries that aren't the United States or Finland. According to the latest McAfee SiteAdvisor report, .gov is the only frequently tested domain for which SiteAdvisor found no risky sites. That domain is only available to United States government agencies. McAfee analyzed and ranked 265 top-level domains including Japan (.jp), France (.fr) and Commercial (.com) based on the frequency of spyware, spam, exploits and scams to be found. The report, "Mapping the Mal Web," estimates that Internet users make more than 550 million visits to risky sites that include even relatively safe domains such as Germany (.de) or the United Kingdom (.uk). McAfee's free SiteAdvisor tool ranks sites by red, yellow, or green ratings. A site earns a red rating if it has adware, spyware, viruses, exploits, spammy e-mail, excessive pop-ups or strong affiliations with other red-rated sites. Green-rated sites pass McAfee's tests in those areas. A site earns a yellow rating if it's safe but pesky; i.e., has excessive pop-ups. According to McAfee, the riskiest country domains are found in Romania (.ro, 5.6 percent risky sites) and Russia (.ru, 4.5 percent risky sites). McAfee found those domains to be the most likely to host exploits or "drive-by-download" sites. That's not surprising, given Eastern Europe's reputation for cyber-crime syndicates dating back years. Romania was struggling to protect its emergent reputation as a hub of skilled programmers as far back as 2004, but the country evidently hasn't had much success, given the Web's current proliferation of Romanian hackers. The SiteAdvisor report found the number of red and yellow flagged sites to range dramatically across country domains, from a low of 0.1 percent for Finland (.fi) to a high of 10.1 for the island of Tokelau (.tk). The report also found that certain web activities are particularly risky when done at certain domains. Handing over your e-mail address on a .info domain, for example, results in a 73.2 percent chance of receiving spam. Indeed, .info is the riskiest generic domain out there, according to McAfee, with 7.5 percent of its sites rated risky. The second riskiest generic domain is .com, with 5.5 percent of sites being labelled risky. Nordic countries are pretty safe, with Finland (0.10 percent), Norway (.no, 0.16 percent), Sweden (.se, 0.21 percent). Iceland (.is, 0.19 percent) and Ireland (.ie, 0.11 percent) grabbing the honour of the top five least risky country domains. You can find more report findings and the complete study here. No responsibility can be taken for the content of external Internet sites.

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