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Public datasets help researchers predict malicious activity

Australian researchers created the "largest publicly available dataset for malware on the Internet" of its kind. They hope to help cybersecurity experts predict what threatens security in the future.

CRISO 61's Data61, Macquarie University, the University of Sydney and Nokia Bell Labs developed the dataset called FinalBlacklist and covers 10 years of data (from 2007-2017).

The dataset contains an 51.6 report of malicious activity that includes 662.000 unique addresses IP around the world. Reports include malware, phishing, fraudulent services, potentially spam, exploit and spam messages that are identified and categorized using machine learning technologies.


Professor Dali Kaafar, head of information security research and privacy at CSIRO's Data61, says malicious software has been a weapon for cybercriminals in the last 10 years.

“Last year, the ransomware attack WannaCry affected more than 300.000 computers in 150 countries, causing billions of dollars in damage. Ransomware remains a persistent threat, as evidenced by the recent attacks on hospitals across Victoria, ”Kaafar explains.

“Reports on Phishing Activities” (Phishing) have also increased steadily since 2009, which coincides with the global adoption of smartphones. ”

Analysts and researchers will be able to define their algorithms to determine how sources, types, and scale of malware activity have changed over time to make it possible to predict exactly what will happen to malware in the future.

According to figures, the annual cost of cybercrime damage could reach 6 trillion dollars by 2021.

Researcher Dr Liming Zhu adds: “The information that can be extracted from the FinalBlacklist dataset is an important contribution to cyber security research. A retrospective analysis of historical trends in malicious activities could help reduce the impact of cybercrime on the economy. ”

According to researchers, there are other databases, such as these, but they often remain "private" due to privacy concerns and the desire to maintain a competitive edge. In contrast, the FinalBlacklist dataset is publicly available.

Researchers offer these tips to avoid malicious activity on the Internet:

  • Maintain your current operating system: Whether you use it Windows, Mac OS, Linux or any other operating system, keep it up to date. The programmers OS regularly issue security updates that fix security issues.
  • Do not ransom: If your device is infected with ransomware and you have locked access to your files, do not pay for the ransomware requested by hackers. There is no guarantee that the files will be returned to you by the hackers.
  • Think Before You Click: Don't click on a link in a strange email or open email attachments from someone you don't know. Hover over the link to check its validity.
  • Do Not Reuse Passwords: Use unique passwords for all online accounts. Randomly mix symbols and numbers with letters. The larger and more complex your code, the more effective it is to prevent violent attacks.
  • Installation ad blockers: Ads can be used for promotion malware or malvertising (malicious ad containing viruses) and these web extensions can prevent it.
  • Install JavaScript-blockers: Privacy tools, such as NoScript, prevent malicious scripts and allow JavaScript, Java, and other potentially dangerous content only from trusted ones websites.


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