SOURCE: F-Secure

F-Secure, Internet Security, Anti-Virus, Antispyware, Firewall, Operation Aurora, zero-day exploits

April 07, 2011 13:05 ET

F-Secure Research Finds Growing Number of Spam-Like Websites and Content Farms

Cloud-Based Real-Time Protection Network Identifies Online Islands of Trust in Vast Sea of Low-Quality Content

SAN JOSE, CA--(Marketwire - April 7, 2011) -  Finding high-quality information through Internet search engines is becoming increasingly difficult as sites featuring repetitive and inferior content multiply. Data from F-Secure's Browsing Protection reputation engine confirms speculation that millions of low-quality sites are being created every month.

Professor Vivek Wadhwa* sparked a major debate on New Year's Day 2011 when he reported that his students could not find relevant information from Google's search engine because there were so many low quality websites, spam, and "content farms" among the search results. He raised the concern that "content farms are turning the web into a massive garbage dump, that many sites are simply replicating the content of others such as TechCrunch, and that Google has no incentive to stop this because it gains advertising revenue from the spammers."

Google has since updated its search algorithm in an attempt to reduce the rankings for low-quality sites. According to Google, the change noticeably impacts 11.8% of its queries.** However, as a result, some well-known and reputable sites such as the British Medical Journal fell down Google rankings.***

Finding islands of trust

As a security vendor also focused on identifying dangerous websites that spread malicious software, F-Secure has also noted the increasing number of low quality sites that distort search results. F-Secure's cloud-based real-time protection network is constantly rating the reputations of millions of sites per day. The resulting data powers the Browsing Protection features of F-Secure's Internet security services.

F-Secure's collection of URLs has altered dramatically during the last 15 months. At the end of 2009, F-Secure maintained details on the reputation of 44 million URLs. The number has inflated to 120 million by the end of March, 2011. The collection is in a constant state of flux as tens of millions of URLs have been purged from F-Secure's cloud in order to maintain a dynamic collection of reputable websites visited by its customers.

Sean Sullivan, Security Advisor at F-Secure, says, "The Web grows continuously and much of its content is low quality or recycled material that spammers attempt to exploit for advertising revenue. Our database experts tirelessly labor to develop better systems that can rapidly identify reputable islands of trust within an ever rising sea of garbage. Our systems import, identify, and filter through millions of URLs daily, and in a couple years it could be hundreds of millions."

"The Web is also growing more contextual. Malicious attackers and spammers are increasing their use of IP locater technologies. What appears to be a safe island from one country may be a whirlpool of danger from another," says Sullivan.

Rating the reputation of the Web will require a truly global viewpoint in the future. F-Secure is building that infrastructure today.


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