McAffee: .cm Top Level Domains are the Worst

mcaffeeMcAffee put out their annual “Mapping the Mal Web” report. It is a PDF that lets you know how risky a website in a Top Level Domain (TLD) can be. Since the .com is so widely used, it’s easy to say it’s on the top of the list. But it’s not #1 – that dubious honor is left to Camroon – the .cm domain.

I always said that TLD’s in other countries are not the best way to go for a domain. Generic TLDs are controlled by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). These include .com, .net, .edu, .org, .biz and a host of others. This is because an individual company that holds a TLD could fold at any time and the TLD with it.

Take the case of .md – It was a TLD held by an independant company from 1995 – 2003. On May 20th, 2003, the IANA was informed that the parent company – dot MD, LLC – fell under chapter 11 bankruptcy. The TLD was in flux for a while, but eventually became sponsored (which is all you can ever do for a TLD) by MoldData.

In the case of .md, health care or those in Moldova, would use this TLD. If this was a TLD that really didn’t work for a country or a profession (let’s say .qq), it would have most likely been disbanded unless a new sponsor was found. Also, unless you were a doctor or one of 3.5 million residents of the country, this TLD would show small risk for malware.

The top 3 on McAffee’s list – .CM, .COM and .CN. The 3rd is the People’s Republic of China, but what’s more interesting is the fact that if you accidentally mistype, you could easily go to google dot cm or google dot cn.

McAffee stated in their report that 5.8% of all domains showed risk. Up from last years’ 4.1%. Seven of the twenty riskiest TLDs were in the Asia – Pacific region. .CM came in with a risk level of 36.7%, .com was at 32.2% , .cn was 23.4% and .info was at 15.8%.

On a good note, Hong Kong dropped from the top 10 in 2008 to 34th place. Therefore, some TLDs are doing a lot to make their areas of the web a little safer. Congrats .hk.

On the other end of the spectrum, .gov (Government), .jp (Japan), .edu (Education), .ie (Ireland) and .hr (Croatia) are the least risky. It makes perfect sense with .gov and .edu – because you need to be in government or education to have the TLD. However, Japan, Ireland and Croatia were a surprise – especially since with Ireland you can easily make words out of the TLD, like Carr.ie, bird.ie, coll.ie, yupp.ie and microsoft.ie (could point to MS’s Internet Explorer website).

McAffee checked sites on each TLD for Viruses, spyware and what they call “Potentially unwanted programs (PUPs). Overall, malware downloads decreased slightly in this last year. 2009 showed a 4.5% risk of downloads as opposed to 4.7% in 2008. Romania (.ro) topped the charts with 21% risk. .info had 17.2% risk for email malware.

Still, out of 27 million domains, only 5.8% had risk to them. It’s still up from 4.1% of 2007 and 2008, but McAffee did mention they changed their methodology to the report to show the 5.8%. They also mentioned that there are still “Hidden risks” out there that McAffee is determined to find.

So before you buy your next domain, check out the .pdf. It’s a pretty informative document on not only which top level domains are risky, but who your giving your money to. Did you know that .ly is the ccTLD (country code Top Level Domain) for Lybia? Did you also know that if you buy a .ly that you are helping the sponsor – General Post and Telecomunications Company?

Not to say it’s a bad thing, but it’s definitely something to think about.

How I made Vista work better.

I hear it all the time – Dang Vista won’t work. They still get frustrated over printer failures, slow programs loading and just basic aggravation to it’s performance. But what’s more interesting is how I fix the problem – and make the program run 200% better.

It’s all about a piece of software that has been a thorn in my side for the last 10 years. Ever since Windows 98, this much needed software has taken a step too far in it’s installation, and when other software gets installed, this software fights with Windows. Worst part is this software expires, which causes more problems than you can imagine.

Symantec.

The latest machine was a HP AMD laptop. The printer spooler was failing. I was getting popups from the Information window because Symantec took over the Firewall. Then it rounded off with a renew subscription error.

Ultimately, all these errors would make the startup time a good 5 minutes. Yeah, you can start after the initial boot-up and sign-in, but as you are working, you are getting all these stupid windows saying there are problems, when in all reality it’s a program you rely on.

Someone gets a new machine and Hey! there’s an anti-virus software you can install. But it’s more than anti-virus. It’s a webscanner. It’s a email scanner. It’s an anti-phishing device . It’s a swiss army knife you can use in any way – until the 1 year trial expires. And then you will get upgrade notices – months in advance – to buy another year.

That is the worst part: this software expires and most procrastinate. Most people I know just pass off on the box and continue. Two to three months after expiration when I look at their machine, I am surprised they haven’t been infected with anything else.

This laptop had one other problem. Within the year that they purchased the machine, they also installed AVG anti-virus.

So for anyone to check email, get on the internet or whatever, they have to run through an expired Anti virus, then one that is working. That’s like sitting in the doctors office and when your name is called, you move to a second waiting room, in where you wait for your name to be called again.

I have been taking Symantec off computers for 10 years. And, yes. For 10 years I have also been removing McAffee. This bloatware is only causing problems, then the user doesn’t want to pay for an upgrade, therefore making the situation worse.

I agree – If you are not in a corporate environment, you should be able to get a basic Anti virus that will not charge you to download the latest definitions. That is why I install a lot of programs like AVG and Avast on machines. I still have to follow up with the customer because of the expiration of the registration keys.

Symantec software (or McAffee)  SHOULD NOT be on new machines. If anything, it should not be pre-loaded, but put on a CD that you physically have to insert and install. If you have to physically install the software, you understand it a little better than something you just have to “Activate”.

In my work, I have pretty much called Symantec more harmful than helpful. No matter what you throw at me in argument, I can bring back with “Yeah, but your software expires and causes more problems in computers”. No wonder people get annoyed with their machines. If I didn’t know about this, I would be swearing at my computer every time it loads.

If you have the software and it’s saying “Pay for another year”, then take some action. At least the un-install process isn’t as annoying as it used to be. I think with McAfee you still have to put in the password you created when you activated it. Hopefully you remember that.

I always say “Ignorance is no excuse”, but on the same token I can’t know everything. Otherwise I would be on Jeopardy answering Alex Trebek’s questions. Or is that asking questions to Alex Trebek’s answers…