Report: Government Domains Safe—Unless Its Romania

McAfee ranked the world's domains based on frequency of spyware, spam and other exploits. The result: Nordic countries are the safest while Eastern Europe is shady.

Government domains are the safest out there, McAfee reported on March 12—unless your definition of "government" includes countries that arent 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).

McAfees 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 McAfees tests in those areas. A site earns a yellow rating if its 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.

Thats not surprising, given Eastern Europes 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 hasnt had much success, given the Webs 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).

/zimages/6/28571.gifRomanian hacker broadcasts eBay customer accounts. Click here to read more.

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 labeled 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 honor of the top five least risky country domains.

You can find more report findings and the complete study here.

Check out eWEEK.coms Security Center for the latest security news, reviews and analysis. And for insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at eWEEKs Security Watch blog.