INTRODUCTION

Today, many attackers are part of organized crime with the intent to defraud their victims. Their goal is to deploy malware on a victim’s machine and to start collecting sensitive data, such as online account credentials and credit card numbers. Since attackers have a tendency to take the path of least resistance and many traditional attack paths are barred by a basic set of security measures, such as firewalls or anti-virus engines, the “black hats” are turning to easier, unprotected attack paths to place their malware onto the end user’s machine. They are turning to client-side attacks.

In this paper, we examine these client-side attacks and evaluate methods to defend against client-side attacks on web browsers. First, we provide an overview of client-side attacks and introduce the honeypot technology that allows security researchers to detect and examine these attacks. We then proceed to examine a number of cases in which malicious web servers on the Internet were identified with our client honeypot technology and evaluate different defense methods. We conclude with a set of recommendations that one can implement to make web browsing safer.

Besides providing the information of this paper, we also make the tools and data freely available on our web site (https://projects.honeynet.org/capture-hpc and http://newzealand.honeynet.org/kye/mws/complete_data_set.zip). We hope that these tools and the data enable the security community to easily become involved in studying the phenomenon of malicious servers. In section “Future Work”, we list some research opportunities that we see in this field.