UK and US plays host to most malicious code

Some 90 per cent of malicious traffic in the UK came from servers in the US or UK, despite having computer crime laws in operation, according to security experts Finjan.

The US came top, hosting more than 80 per cent, but the UK was second, with just under nine per cent, followed by Canada, Germany and Italy.

The problem behind the figures is a preponderance of free and low-cost web hosting services in the US and Europe. As organised crime industrialises cyber-criminality, attacks are run as a business, with hosting as a cost to be cut.

"The results of this study shatter the myth that malicious code is primarily being hosted in countries where e-crime laws are less developed," said Yuval Ben-Itzhak, chief technology officer at Finjan.

"Our research shows that malicious content is much more likely to show up on a local server than one in Asia or Eastern Europe. Unfortunately this means that the traditional location-based reputation heuristics are decreasingly effective against modern attacks."

Symantec's latest report for the latter half of 2006 puts the US at the top for malicious activity with 31 per cent, followed by China with 10 per cent, Germany with 7 per cent, France with 4 per cent, and the UK with 4 per cent.

Russia doesn't even feature in the top 10.

It's a similar story for phishing. Germany topped the European poll as hosting most phishing sites in Europe, and was second globally, followed by the UK, France, Netherlands and Spain (in Europe).

Security company F-Secure has long campaigned against the practice of allowing the registration of obviously malicious URLs such as - one of several thousand dodgy domains it found searching the records of registrars. It published an open letter in December calling for registrars to take some action over the issue.

Web hosting company Strato says it has witnessed much of what these companies describe first hand.

"We saw many spammers taking up [domain registration] offers," said chief executive Damian Schmidt.

"Now we call up every customer to check the line exists. If no-one answers we cancel the order."

But Schmidt says Strato is unique in making these checks. Despite its size - Strato handles roughly a quarter of all European traffic - it will need the co-operation of all companies taking domain registrations to make an impact on malicious URLs.