Sydney, Mar 1 : One can do away with fear of any harm to his or her personal details by visiting the most trusted sites on Internet. But this might just prove to be an illusion as a new Internet security threat called "drive-by downloading," may result in identity theft and fraud without your knowledge.
Internet users without any state-of-the-art Internet security software on their PCs are at risk even if they visit popular and trusted sites.
Usually, drive-by downloading takes place when a user visits a hacked site. Later, the website looks for vulnerabilities in the user's PC
When a weakness is detected, it is possible for the site to install a keylogger, which is a mini application that makes a note of keystrokes made on the PC for getting hold of banking and credit card information.
According to Symantec's vice president for consumer products Tom Powledge, drive-by downloading was new and would catch many users unaware.
"What's tricky about this is that it might be webpages you think you can trust," he said. One day you can go to your favourite travel website or shopping website and everything's fine and then the next day it's been hacked and you wouldn't really know. A lot of webmasters actually don't even know their websites have been hacked," News.com.au quoted Powledge, as saying.
According to Symantec, 15 per cent of people go online unprotected, which clears the way for hackers, as 95 percent of all attacks are aimed at home users not protected by corporate firewalls.
Powledge said hackers have become much smarter these days and no longer tried to simply crash your PC with a worm or virus.
"There is an underground economy in the sale of personal credentials so once they they have your username and password to your bank account or credit card number they'll either try to sell it or try to break into your bank account," said Powledge.
He said that hackers also operate internationally and have made finding personal information on the Internet their full-time job.
"We were able to take this one trojan horse and reverse engineer it and were able to tell the times the virus writers were actually working. We could see the date and time stamps and we found they essentially work nine to five, Monday to Friday," he said.
Symantec will be coming up with its latest all-in-one Internet security software Norton 360 Version 2 in mid-March.