McAfee found the most dangerous domains to navigate to are ".hk" (Hong Kong), ".cn" (China) and ".info" (information).
Of all ".hk" sites McAfee tested, it flagged 19.2 percent as dangerous or potentially dangerous to visitors; it flagged 11.8 percent of ".cn" sites and 11.7 percent of ".info" sites that way.
In comparison, a little more than 5 percent of the sites under the ".com" domain — the world's most popular — were identified as dangerous.
Who owns these domain names and operates these sites? More spammers, malicious code writers and other cybercriminals like to establish an online presence with a domain name registry businesses that cuts requirements for registering a site in order to boost their profit and profile. The report doesn't identify domain name registration companies McAfee believes are responsible for those lapses.
There are domain registering companies offering their services on the cheap and with flimsy or no background checks to lure in more customers.
The domains that are populated with the highest concentration of risky sites.
- The servers for ".hk" and ".cn" Web sites don't have to be in China; Web site operators can register sites from anywhere to target different geographies.
- ".ro" (Romania), with 6.8 percent, and ".ru" (Russia), with 6 percent of sites flagged as dangerous.
The McAfee report is based on results from 9.9 million Web sites that were tested in 265 domains for serving malicious code, excessive pop-up ads or forms to fill out that actually are tools for harvesting e-mail addresses for sending spam.
Where McAfee found some of the least-risky domain names:
- ".gov" (government use), with 0.05 percent flagged;
- ".jp" (Japan), with 0.1 percent flagged and
- ".au" (Australia), with 0.3 percent flagged.