Barracuda Labs has examined the Web’s top 25,000 domains according to Alexa and discovered that quite a few of them are malicious. Moreover, based on their analysis, at least one of the top sites will serve malicious content each day.
Armed with an automated system that forces a browser inside a VM to visit a given domain and log what happens to the browser itself, its plugins, and underlying OS, Barracuda tracked the top 25,000 domains on the Web today.
“A few months ago we began using [this] system to examine the Alexa 25,000 most popular domains. As these sites are popular and long-lived, many people assume that it is safe to visit them. However, automated examination of the Alexa top 25,000 each day for the month of February 2012-which found 58 sites serving drive-by download exploits-shows that this assumption does not always hold,” wrote Paul Royal, a Research Consultant with Barracuda Labs.
To be fair, none of the malicious domains reported in their finding are the mainstream. So there is no Google, no Wikipedia, no Reddit, no Facebook, and so on. The sites that showed the most malicious activity include free-tv-video-online.me, bigresource.com, myplaycity.com, gaytube.com, filmaffinity.com, and webconfs.com, which account for the top five malicious domains.
Other points of note from Barracuda’s research include:
Alexa top-ranked domains served malicious content 23 (or 79%) of the days in February. That means this problem is not isolated and occurs on a continuous, regular basis.
Alexa top-ranked domains that served malicious content spanned across 18 different countries. That means this problem has no geographic barrier.
Over 97% of sites that served visitors malicious content were at least one year old; over half were on sites more than five years old. That means attackers use well-established, long-lived websites for their drive-by download campaigns.
More information, including info graphic and the availability of PCAP data, is here.