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Outdated technology is a big factor, Guruswamy says. Thousands of Web servers are using out-of-date software, and the underlying background domains serving ads are vulnerable to exploit kits used to deliver malware.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
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
Commentary
What the FedEx Logo Taught Me About Cybersecurity
Matt Shea, Head of Federal @ MixMode,  6/4/2021
Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
A View From Inside a Deception
Sara Peters, Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  6/2/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
The State of Cybersecurity Incident Response
In this report learn how enterprises are building their incident response teams and processes, how they research potential compromises, how they respond to new breaches, and what tools and processes they use to remediate problems and improve their cyber defenses for the future.
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-2021-24360
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-14
The Yes/No Chart WordPress plugin before 1.0.12 did not sanitise its sid shortcode parameter before using it in a SQL statement, allowing medium privilege users (contributor+) to perform Blind SQL Injection attacks
CVE-2021-24382
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-14
The Smart Slider 3 Free and pro WordPress plugins before 3.5.0.9 did not sanitise the Project Name before outputting it back in the page, leading to a Stored Cross-Site Scripting issue. By default, only administrator users could access the affected functionality, limiting the exploitability of the v...
CVE-2021-24341
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-14
When deleting a date in the Xllentech English Islamic Calendar WordPress plugin before 2.6.8, the year_number and month_number POST parameters are not sanitised, escaped or validated before being used in a SQL statement, leading to SQL injection.
CVE-2021-24345
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-14
The page lists-management feature of the Sendit WP Newsletter WordPress plugin through 2.5.1, available to Administrator users does not sanitise, validate or escape the id_lista POST parameter before using it in SQL statement, therefore leading to Blind SQL Injection.
CVE-2021-24346
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-14
The Stock in & out WordPress plugin through 1.0.4 has a search functionality, the lowest accessible level to it being contributor. The srch POST parameter is not validated, sanitised or escaped before using it in the echo statement, leading to a reflected XSS issue