Zscaler launches free-to-use URL scanning service

Cloud security vendor Zscaler launched a new service that can assess risks associated with URLs

Cloud security vendor Zscaler has launched a new free-to-use online service called Zulu that can assess the security risk associated with URLs by analyzing the content they point to, as well as the reputation of their corresponding domain names and IP addresses.

There are several free URL scanning services available online and all of them are useful in their own right. While conceptually similar to other such scanners, Zulu does have a few features that makes it stand out.

For example, Zulu allows security-savvy users who investigate various Web attacks to choose what User-Agent and Referrer headers the scanner will use when accessing a URL.

There are a lot of attack pages that only serve malicious content to visitors who arrive there from a certain website, most commonly a search engine, or only to visitors who use a certain browser.

Zulu assesses the risk of a Web resource's content, its URL and host individually and assigns a score for each of these categories based on several tests. The scores are then combined to determine the overall risk associated with the resource.

"A unique benefit of this approach is that we can deliver a risk score even when the page content is no longer available," said Michael Sutton, vice president of security research at Zscaler, in a blog post on Wednesday.

"While we can't access the page, we can still assess the URL and host and when they deliver a high risk score despite a lack of page content, one can often conclude the page was indeed malicious but has since been taken down," he explained.

Depending on the type of content a URL points to, Zulu can perform an antivirus scan using the VirusTotal multi-engine service, try to match a file's MD5 hash in Zscaler's database, search for known JavaScript obfuscation patterns and phishing heuristics, or use the company's malware detection technologies.

A Web resource's URL is verified against publicly known blacklists and its domain name is checked for suspicious strings of characters. The historical abuse levels of a particular TLD and the risk associated with an IP address' geographical location are also taken into consideration when establishing the final risk score.

"With Zulu, we sought to combine our own proprietary scanning techniques, with the great open source intelligence that is available, to provide a broad view of the overall risk posed by virtually any web resource," Sutton said.

According to the researcher, the company decided to launch Zulu as a free tool in order to experiment with new detection techniques before using them in its commercial products. As the service gains popularity, it will also help Zscaler discover more malicious websites and improve the accuracy of its database.

The company doesn't have any plans to offer an open API (application programming interface) for service at this time. "This is something that we may consider in future if feedback suggests that users would benefit from it," Sutton said.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?