Hong Kong, China Web domains cited as 'most dangerous'

McAfee names ".hk" the world's most dangerous top-level domain

Hong Kong and China are the "most dangerous" places to surf the Web based on country domain, according to McAfee's annual assessment of the riskiest and safest places in cyberspace.

"We looked at the major categories, including exploits by drive-by downloads, spam, and downloads that come with malware such as viruses," says McAfee analyst Shane Keats about the security company's new report, titled "Mapping the Mal Web Revisited." He describes the report as a bit like a "Lonely Planet" travel guide for the Web, adding, "Danger on the Web is very fluid."

The report, based on the Web-crawling and analysis technologies that power McAfee's SiteAdvisor tool for safe Web surfing, looked at 9.9 million heavily trafficked Web sites in 265 countries ending in country domain codes, such as .br for Brazil.

McAfee also analyzed the malware consequences of visiting the more generic top-level domains, such as .com and .org. While McAfee doesn't claim to have crawled over the entire Web, it believes it viewed 95 percent of Web traffic in the top 74 countries where the Web is used the most.

While the "Information" (.info) domain name is judged by McAfee to be the most dangerous among the generic ones with 11.7 percent risky sites, it's Hong Kong and China that stand out in this year's study as dangerous on the country level.

Hong Kong (with its .hk domain) had ranked 28th in last year's study but jumped to No. 1 to gain the "most dangerous" title. China, which had ranked #11 in last year's report, jumped to the #2 spot for riskiest this year. The McAfee report says 19.2 percent of all sites tested associated with .hk were dangerous and 11.2 percent associated with .cn were.

As to why the situation in Hong Kong worsened over the past year, McAfee pointed to statements provided by Bonnie Chun, an official with the Hong Kong Domain Name Registration Company, about decisions that might have inadvertently encouraged scammers.

Among the statements attributed to Chun were making the Hong Kong online registration process "more user-friendly" by allowing registration of several domains at one time as well as "buy-one, get-two domains." As a consequence, "phishers usually registered eight or more domains at one time." Hong Kong last year began to tighten policies to rectify the situation.

China may have soared to the top spot because the country is among the most inexpensive places to register, with the wholesale price for .cn "now being about 15 cents," according to the McAfee report.

Keats adds that China may have "poor controls" on domain registration as well. Registering an e-mail address at a Chinese (.cn) Web site is "dramatically more risky than it was last year," the McAfee report states. "Test registrations receiving high-volume, spammy e-mail more than doubled, from 17.2 to 39.7 percent"

Last year's No. 1 riskiest domain was associated with the tiny island nation of Tokelau (.tk) which had made Web registration there free. But the nation now no longer offers free anonymous registration -- bringing an improvement of 85.8 percent under the McAfee rating system.

McAfee also ranked what it considers the top five "least-risky" top-level domains as Slovenia (.sl), Norway (.no), Japan (.jp), Governmental (.gov) and Finland (.fl). Each of these were said to have 0.2 percent or fewer domains rated as risky.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ellen Messmer

Network World
Show Comments



Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >

Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?