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Google discovered almost 761,000 compromised websites in the last year

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April 19, 2016

A team of university researchers and Google say they discovered almost 761,000 compromised websites across the internet during a 12-month research period.

Google's Eric Kuan, Yuan Niu, Lucas Ballard, Kurt Thomas, and Elie Bursztein joined the University of California in writing 'Remedying Web Hijacking: Notification Effectiveness and Webmaster Comprehension'.

In the report, the team says Google usually emails the system admins of hacked sites operating its Search Console.

It usually finds an average of about 77.8 percent of site administrators will expunge malware when emailed, while about half of that only act when their sites are defaced by a hacker.

Most webmasters were quicker to patch and purge a site when tipped off by Google to the malware menace, with about 12 percent falling flat and being compromised again within thirty days or even less in a few cases.

The numbers are pulled from a pool of 760,935 security breaches that Google detected in the 12 months to June 2015.

"Our results indicate that browser interstitials, search warnings, and direct communication with webmasters all play a crucial role in alerting webmasters to various security compromises and spurring them into action," the researchers say.

"We found Safe Browsing interstitials, paired with search warnings and WHOIS emails, resulted in about 54.6 percent of sites clean ups, compared to 43.4 percent of sites flagged with a search warning alone.

"Above all, direct contact with the webmasters in question increased the likelihood of remediation to over 75 percent," they said.

The research is Google's latest effort to bring webmasters into its anti-malware embrace. Google has urged system admins to sign up to its Safe Browsing alerts since mid-2014.

Google now shares URLs linked to social engineering, unwanted and malicious software, to help admins understand the serious threats they constantly face.

The search giant monitors some 22,000 autonomous systems or about 40 percent of total active networks, and provides some 250 daily reports to some 1300 site administrators.

Source: Google.

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