Websense’s State of Internet Security, Q3-Q4 2008 report states that number of malicious Web sites has increased by 46% during the January first 2008 through January first 2009 period.

The report adds that 70% of the top 100 most popular Web sites either hosted malicious content or contained a masked redirect to lure unsuspecting victims from legitimate sites to malicious sites. As expected, most of the nominated sites are social networking, Web 2.0 and search sites.

75% of the sites labeled as malicious used to have a good reputation and had been victims of hack attacks during the first half of 2008. The number go higher during the second half of the year, to a final 78%.

Last but not least, the study notes that 39% of malicious Web attacks included data-stealing code:

"We’re seeing an increase in cybercriminals taking advantage of the growing number of Web 2.0 properties that allow user generated content, " said Websense Chief Technology Officer Dan Hubbard. "More than ever we’re seeing attackers inject Web sites with links and iFrames to direct users to malicious and compromised sites with the ultimate purpose of stealing data."

Moving on to the emailing chapter of the report, Websense notes that 90.4% of all unwanted emails in the second half of 2008 were attempts to lure unsuspecting users to malicious or just plain spam sites.