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Gaming, Celebrity Sites Nastiest Web Neighborhoods

Your mother was right: some neighborhoods are more dangerous than others.

In a recently published paper, researchers at the University of Washington said that some Web wards are significantly more likely to host spyware and launch "drive-by downloads," the term for the hacker practice of using browser or Windows vulnerabilities to silently install software.

The nastiest Web neighborhoods? Games and celebrity-oriented sites.

"Our data shows that the most high-risk category is 'games,'" said the report. "Another is celebrity, for which over one in seven executables are infected with spyware."

In May and October 2005, Henry Levy and Steven Gribble, two University of Washington professors, sent customized Web crawlers scouring the Internet for spyware. Each foray sniffed through some 45,000 sites, then cataloged the executable files found and tested malicious sites' effectiveness by exposing unpatched versions of Internet Explorer and Firefox to drive-bys.

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