Google has spotted some 16,500 newly infected websites each week over the past year -- a total of around 800,000 compromised sites worldwide.
The search engine giant is well aware of the challenge this poses for many owners of those websites once they are alerted to the attacks, and today published findings of a study it conducted with University of California Berkeley, on ways to assist webmasters in recovering from website breaches.
Google and Berkeley found that among webmasters who register their sites with Google’s Search Console, contacting a webmaster via email about his or her breached site was the best bet: 75% of webmasters who were emailed during the study were able to fix their breached sites; browser warnings (54%) and Google search warnings (43%) were next-best.
Webmasters who received emails—which include tips and samples of the malicious activity—from Google remediated their sites 62% faster (within three days) than those who didn’t receive any tips on what to do post-breach and details of the infected pages. Among websites that had been cleaned up recently, Google discovered that some 12% got compromised again within 30 days of the cleanup.
The study focused on website hijacking incidents found by Google Safe Browsing and Search Quality, between July of 2014 and June of 2015.
“As we work to make the web a safer place, we think it’s critical to empower webmasters and users to make good security decisions. It’s easy for the security community to be pessimistic about incident response being ‘too complex’ for victims, but as our findings demonstrate, even just starting a dialogue can significantly expedite recovery,” Googlers Kurt Thomas and Yuan Niu of Google’s Spam & Abuse Research team said in a blog post today about the study.
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