Researcher: Cleaning Chinese malware sites harder than in US

Over half of all sites spreading malware are based in China, says Stopbadware.org

More than half the sites spreading malicious code are hosted on Chinese networks, an anti-malware group said Wednesday.

Of the over 213,000 malware-hosting sites analyzed last month by Stopbadware.org -- a joint effort of researchers at Harvard, Oxford and several corporations, including Google and Sun Microsystems -- 52 per cent were hosted by servers running Chinese IP addresses. Of the top 10 networks serving malicious code, six are Chinese.

The US hosts 21 per cent of the malware sites, giving it the dubious honor of second place.

Stopbadware.org, which uses data collected by Google's crawlers, wouldn't speculate on what proportion of the sites, Chinese or otherwise, were deliberately hosting malicious code and what fraction were actually legitimate sites that have been hacked. But the dramatic year-to-year growth in the number of sites serving up malware is likely due to a boom in site hacking.

"It's hard to tell how much of the increase is due to Google expanding its efforts [in scanning for malicious sites] but by other reports and researchers, it's reasonable to say that the growing number is in large part due to the growth in [SQL injection] attacks," said Maxim Weinstein, the manager of Stopbadware.org.

With Google fingering only 45,000 to 50,000 sites last year, May's number is up more than 300 per cent. "There's just a much larger number of infected sites out there," said Weinstein.

The number of hacked sites, most compromised through SQL injection attacks, has soared in 2008, with some estimates of the total number of hijacked legitimate pages reaching as high as three million. The problem has become so acute, said Microsoft yesterday, that it and Hewlett-Packard joined forces to launch free tools that site developers and administrators can use to search for vulnerable code and block incoming attacks.

And while Stopbadware.org had some success last year in getting some US-based networks to clean out malware-hosting sites, Weinstein didn't sound as confident that the group could make the same progress with Chinese operators.

"It's a bigger challenge, to be sure," he acknowledged. "We don't understand the landscape nearly as well. We have attempted to contact all the Chinese networks, but we haven't always been successful. It's tougher when you start crossing national and cultural lines."

But Stopbadware.org's is still trying to contact network owners and convince them to shut down deliberate hosts and help legitimate sites eradicate malware that's made it onto their servers, Weinstein said. "We want to get these conversations going," he said. "We've shown that when the parties are willing to talk, the approach works. We hope to see the same sort of approach working in China."

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?