Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Vulnerabilities / Threats

12/13/2016
09:05 AM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Nearly Half Of The Top 1 Million Websites Deemed Risky

Forty-six percent of the top million websites, as ranked by Alexa, pose potential malware risks to businesses.

Nearly half (46%) of the Alexa top one million websites were found to be risky, putting businesses at risk as their users visits these sites.

The finding is part of a new report published by Menlo Security entitled "State of the Web 2016: Quantifying Today's Internet Risk," where researchers examined key characteristics of the top one million websites, as ranked by Alexa, to determine sources of risk.

Last year, Menlo's "State of the Web" report highlighted two key findings: One in three domains in the Alexa top 1M were deemed risky, and one in five ran vulnerable software.

This year, Menlo focused on Alexa's top 1M websites but factored in the 25M background-initiated requests a browser makes when visiting any of the primary 1M sites. When users access top Web destinations, they unknowingly make millions of other requests.

"When you go to a site, your browser goes to 25 other sites," says Menlo Security CTO Kowsik Guruswamy.

Background sites provide active content to the browser for content delivery, ad delivery, trackers, and beacons. Researchers evaluated factors that could affect the primary websites' risk, such as release dates, software version, CVE IDs, and third-party risk intelligence.

Menlo considers a site risky if its homepage or associated background websites is running vulnerable software; if it's a known-bad; or if it had a security incident in the last 12 months. Guruswamy notes the 46% risk is a "pretty significant number."

According to there report, there are three main reasons behind the growth of Web exploitation: websites are easier to exploit, traditional security products don't provide sufficient protection, and phishing attacks can now use legitimate sites.

Outdated technology is a big factor, Guruswamy says. Thousands of Web servers are using out-of-date software, and the underlying background domains serving ads are vulnerable to exploit kits used to deliver malware. Users surfing the Web are putting themselves at risk for attack.

"The risk factor has never been easier to exploit because people are running really old software," he says. Vulnerable software was the leading factor in classifying a website as risky by a factor of more than two, and researchers found the oldest vulnerable software in the top 1M sites was launched in the year 2000.

Looking at a breakdown of site categories, news and media websites were at the greatest risk, with 50% being classified as risky. Business and economy websites had the most recent threat history.

"If you look at websites with security incidents in the last 12 months, business and economy is at the top," Guruswamy notes. "That's surprising, and bad for enterprises, because many organizations have a general assumption that if a site is popular, it's okay for users to go to. Turns out, that's not the case."

Businesses are aware of the problem, he continues, but there is little concern about where malware starts. The existing technologies companies are using to secure themselves don't address the problem.

Security pros struggle to come up with a solution. They could implement a comprehensive solution by blocking all uncategorized websites, but then they face complaints from end users trying to access them.

"IT is caught in the middle," explains Guruswamy. "If they block [sites] they're the bad guys; if they allow them, then they run the risk of infection."

The challenge won't go away in 2017, when the risks of malware, ransomware, and credential theft will continue to target employees and businesses. Security products will be in the middle, trying to figure out if supposedly legitimate websites are safe, he says.

Guruswamy says businesses, website owners, and end users need to work together to stay safe. Enterprise IT administrators should explore the possibility of isolation as a key way to prevent security problems, a strategy he says has been adopted at JPMorganChase. Users who click links within emails are taken to an isolation platform that runs a browser on their behalf.

"We've lost the privilege to connect to the Internet directly," he notes. "Businesses should start thinking about isolation as a means of making the problem go away."

Related Content:

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
7 Old IT Things Every New InfoSec Pro Should Know
Joan Goodchild, Staff Editor,  4/20/2021
News
Cloud-Native Businesses Struggle With Security
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  5/6/2021
Commentary
Defending Against Web Scraping Attacks
Rob Simon, Principal Security Consultant at TrustedSec,  5/7/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-29040
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-16
The JSON web services in Liferay Portal 7.3.4 and earlier, and Liferay DXP 7.0 before fix pack 97, 7.1 before fix pack 20 and 7.2 before fix pack 10 may provide overly verbose error messages, which allows remote attackers to use the contents of error messages to help launch another, more focused att...
CVE-2021-29041
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-16
Denial-of-service (DoS) vulnerability in the Multi-Factor Authentication module in Liferay DXP 7.3 before fix pack 1 allows remote authenticated attackers to prevent any user from authenticating by (1) enabling Time-based One-time password (TOTP) on behalf of the other user or (2) modifying the othe...
CVE-2021-29047
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-16
The SimpleCaptcha implementation in Liferay Portal 7.3.4, 7.3.5 and Liferay DXP 7.3 before fix pack 1 does not invalidate CAPTCHA answers after it is used, which allows remote attackers to repeatedly perform actions protected by a CAPTCHA challenge by reusing the same CAPTCHA answer.
CVE-2021-22668
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-16
Delta Industrial Automation CNCSoft ScreenEditor Versions 1.01.28 (with ScreenEditor Version 1.01.2) and prior are vulnerable to an out-of-bounds read while processing project files, which may allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code.
CVE-2021-29039
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-16
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in the Asset module's categories administration page in Liferay Portal 7.3.4 allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via the site name.