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Browser-Based Attacks On The Rise, IT Pros Say

Browser-based attacks are on the upswing and may pose the next major threat to enterprise security, said a survey released Monday by a computer trade organization.

According to the Computing Technology Industry Association's (CompTIA) second annual survey on IT security, attacks through the browser -- typically conducted by attackers by enticing users to malicious Web sites by e-mailing or IMing links -- showed the biggest percentage jump of any of the 15 threat categories posed to the nearly 900 IT professionals polled.

Such browser-based attacks try to trick users into disclosing personal information, including credit card number and bank accounts, or are the way hackers plant their own code on victims' computers.

In 2003, 36.8 percent of the IT workers surveyed said that their organization had suffered a browser-based attack in the last six months, up from just 25 percent the year before.

"These attacks are unleashed when someone visits a Web page that appears harmless, but actually contains hidden malicious code intended to sabotage a computer or compromise privacy," said Steven Ostrowski, the CompTIA executive responsible for assembling the survey's conclusions. "The result of the attack may be as simple as a crashed browser, or as serious as the theft of personal information or the loss of confidential proprietary data."

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