Over 1 per cent of search results include malicious sites

Posted by   Virus Bulletin on   Feb 12, 2008

Google research paper confirms significant increase in number of malware-serving websites.

Recent reports of increasing numbers of websites serving malicious content have been confirmed in a paper published by researchers from Google.

The researchers report finding over three million URLs serving malware, as detected by at least one anti-virus program, with another three million showing suspicious behaviour. In most cases, the malware is loaded into the page via a piece of JavaScript code or via an iframe linking to an external site, with almost 10,000 sites found to be actually hosting the malware.

Though these numbers may seem insignificant among the billions of websites on the internet, more than 1% of all Google search results pages now contain at least one site serving malware, a figure which has quadrupled in the past nine months.

Not surprisingly, users who visit websites with adult content have a higher risk of running into malware. However, this does not mean that these are the only sites that pose a threat, as malware was found on every type of website, according to the Open Directory Project categorisation of websites. In fact, most malware-serving websites are genuine sites that have been compromised. This may be partly the fault of website administrators, as over 38% of malware-serving websites that run the Apache server software use an out-of-date version, with another 26% not reporting their version number. 40% of the PHP versions in use were also found to be out of date.

The researchers also looked into the global distribution of malicious websites. Of the sites serving malware, as well as of those actually hosting the malware, two thirds are located in China, with the United States and Russia taking second and third place in both categories. However, these figures vary greatly from country to country. For instance, for 96% of Chinese websites serving malware, the malware is also hosted in China.

The paper confirms a worrying trend of increasing numbers of genuine websites serving malware, and implies that the former 'safe browsing' strategy of visiting only trusted sites is fast becoming impossible to implement. Web users can protect themselves by ensuring they run reputable security software and keeping it updated, and web administrators must ensure they run up-to-date versions of server software and keep their sites clean.

A summary of findings can be found at Google's Online Security Blog here, while the original paper can be downloaded (in PDF format) here.

Posted on 12 February 2008 by Virus Bulletin

twitter.png
fb.png
linkedin.png
googleplus.png
reddit.png

 

Latest posts:

Test your technical and mental limits in the VB2017 foosball tournament

As has become tradition, VB2017 will once again see a security industry table football tournament. Register your team now for some great fun and adrenaline-filled matches in between sessions in Madrid!

The case against running Windows XP is more subtle than we think it is

Greater Manchester Police is one of many organizations still running Windows XP on some of its systems. This is bad practice, but the case against running XP is far more subtle than we often pretend it is.

Hot FinSpy research completes VB2017 programme

Researchers from ESET have found a new way in which the FinSpy/FinFisher 'government spyware' can infect users, details of which they will present at VB2017 in Madrid.

Transparency is essential when monitoring your users' activities

Activity monitoring by security products in general, and HTTPS traffic inspection in particular, are sensitive issues in the security community. There is a time and a place for them, VB's Martijn Grooten argues, but only when they are done right.

VB2017 preview: Android reverse engineering tools: not the usual suspects

We preview the VB2017 paper by Fortinet researcher Axelle Apvrille, in which she looks at some less obvious tools for reverse engineering Android malware.