The Domain Registration Risk Calculator is a tool for domain registrars to analyse the likelihood that new domains will be used for fraudulent activities. The service identifies domains which are deceptively similar to legitimate websites run by banks and other institutions commonly targeted by phishing attacks.
Since such registrations are often made using stolen credit cards, there are significant advantages to the registrar in refusing them.
Netcraft has blocked well over five million phishing attacks since 2005, and our phishing feed is used by all of the major web browsers, and also by leading anti-virus companies, domain registrars, registries, certificate authorities and hosting companies. Our extensive experience in identifying, validating and eliminating phishing sites has provided us with a wealth of knowledge of the tricks that are used by fraudsters to create a deceptive domain name. We analyse our database of over six thousand organisations which have been targeted by phishing attacks to extract a comprehensive set of homoglyphs that could be used to convert bona fide domains to fraudulent ones. Example transformations are the corresponding characters from an IDN alphabet, or ASCII character set substitutions such as replacing “o” (letter O) with “0” (zero), or replacing “l” (lower-case letter l) with “1” (digit one), or simply appending or prepending strings such as update or secure.
A Facebook phishing site, along with its Domain Registration Risk score
The service computes a registration risk score for a proposed domain, which gives a measure of the likelihood that this candidate domain may be used to host a phishing attack. We do this by using the results of two algorithms:
The first algorithm, Phish target score compares the
candidate domain to each of the frequently-phished legitimate domains we have on
record. This comparison is done on a per-character basis, and the score is formed
by looking at the minimum set of edits required to map from one to the other.
The algorithm recognises certain tricks commonly used in domain names to deceive victims, such as double letters (paaypal.com) or confusing characters or combinations of characters (paypa1.com). We also check against a list of deceptive prefixes and suffixes that are frequently used by phishing sites, including signin and verify.
As well as using a set of fixed rules, this algorithm also retains the flexibility to match new mappings and edits that have not been seen before. Using the suggested cut-off of a minimum score of 5/10, this method identifies 278 (12.7%) out of the 2,191 phishing domains currently blocked by Netcraft.
The second algorithm, String entropy score, works entirely differently. Many phishing domains in our database are essentially random strings of alphanumeric digits, yet very few legitimate sites follow this pattern. The string entropy test looks to see if a domain looks like a combination of real dictionary words and plausible names, or whether it looks more like a randomised string. The higher the score, the more random a string appears to be.
Although most dictionary strings score zero, the suggested cut-off is a minimum score of 5/10; any domain scoring higher than this is very likely to be random, but below this score false positives are increasingly likely.
Using the suggested cut-off identifies 474 (21.6%) of the 2,191 identified phishing domains and these are substantially non-overlapping with those domains spotted by the first method.
These two methods work together to give sophisticated and largely independent indicators of the likelihood that a candidate domain may be used to host phishing attacks against a known legitimate target. Using the overall risk rating produced by combining the two scores would presently detect 742 (33.9%) of the 2,191 currently blocked phishing domains.
The domains in the table below have run phishing attacks and are shown together with their domain registration risk.
Domain Target Registration Risk hsbc-hk.biz hsbchk.com 10.00 activate-facebook-security-confirmation.tk facebook.com 10.00 xdzfhv.tk (none) 9.98 cimbclicksonline.com cimbclicks.com.my 9.10 jtlwm.com (none) 8.94 taobao581.cn taobao.com 8.84 halifaxinternational.org halifax.co.uk 8.67 skype-load.com skype.com 8.49 natwestt.co.uk natwest.co.uk 8.26 1tw1tter.com twitter.com 7.14 santadar.co.uk santander.co.uk 6.93 htmail.co.uk hotmail.co.uk 6.66 dhl-couriers.co.uk dhl.co.uk 5.54 sbo6666.com sbo666.com 5.64 alibabeexpress.com alibaba.com 5.07
A web-based interface to the system is available for evaluation purposes and ad-hoc queries. For automated processes and bulk queries an API is available to return domain registration risk information in JSON format. Bespoke formats can be made available on request.
Entering the domain securepaypa1.com into the test system produces the report shown below:
Please get in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to try out this service or for subscription information.
- The first algorithm, Phish target score compares the candidate domain to each of the frequently-phished legitimate domains we have on record. This comparison is done on a per-character basis, and the score is formed by looking at the minimum set of edits required to map from one to the other.
As of 1st June 2010, the Netcraft Toolbar community has helped to block over 3 million phishing attacks worldwide. We incentivise phishing reports from the Toolbar community, and have now added the iPad to our list of incentives:
Netcraft Mug (after 100 validated phishing reports) Netcraft Polo Shirt (after 400) Targus Laptop Backpack (after 1,000) iPad (after 5,000)
On reaching 5,000 validated reports you become eligible for a monthly competition to incentivise large reporters.
The Netcraft Toolbar, which is available for Firefox, serves as a giant neighbourhood watch scheme for the Internet. Members who encounter a phishing fraud can act to defend the larger community of users against the attack. Once the first recipients of a phishing mail have reported the attack URL, it is blocked for toolbar users who subsequently access the URL and widely disseminated attacks simply mean that the phishing attack will be reported and blocked sooner.
Changes to Netcraft phishing report processing:
Until recently we have rejected reports for URLs which were already blocked by the Netcraft Toolbar. We now accept reports on URLs which are already blocked if the phishing URL targets a different company to any previously accepted reports.
For example, if we receive a report of a phishing URL at http://[example-domain]/directory/paypal targeting PayPal customers and we decide to block all URLs beginning with http://[example-domain]/directory/ a subsequent report of the URL http://[example-domain-here]/directory/HSBC targeting HSBC customers will now be accepted even though access to that URL is already blocked by our Toolbar.
Each accepted report counts towards your incentives. Therefore, when you see a site with multiple phishing URLs targeting multiple companies, please report them all!
Netcraft has developed a dataset which tracks the changes in the hosting locations of the million busiest websites. Each month we determine the busiest sites by the number of visits from users of the Netcraft Toolbar. This is then combined with detailed hosting information gathered by our Web Server Survey, and compared with the equivalent information from the previous month.
Many sites' location will be unchanged, but some will have moved from one hosting provider to another during the course of the month. Additionally, hosting companies may gain new sites that were not previously in the top million, and lose sites which are no longer present.
The dataset gives a guide to the market share of companies hosting the sites responsible for the great majority of web traffic, and is largely uninfluenced by parked domains, personal sites, shared hosting accounts or the majority of blogs.
Excerpts from March to April 2010
Hostnames Change Gained Lost Hosting Company Mar 2010 Apr 2010 +/- % Not Ranked Competitors Not Ranked Competitors ThePlanet.com 34,342 34,714 372 1.1% 3,087 835 2,839 711 Rackspace 21,504 21,740 236 1.1% 1,719 467 1,573 377 GoDaddy Inc 15,617 15,721 104 0.7% 1,641 362 1,522 377 Peer1 Networks Inc 8,394 8,512 118 1.4% 815 910 635 972 Layered Technologies 5,987 5,905 -82 -1.4% 524 873 566 913 iWeb Technologies Inc 4,511 4,662 151 3.3% 446 127 307 115 iomart group plc 2,675 2,771 96 3.6% 271 137 239 73
Gains from Not Ranked indicate that a site has entered in to the top million this month. Losses from Not Ranked indicate that the site is no longer in the top million.
Although the top 1000 sites are concentrated amongst the web superpowers, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and eBay, the hosting locations of the top million sites are widely fragmented, with a little over 3.25% sufficient for top spot.Site Detail
An advantage of this dataset over the Hosting Provider Switching Analysis is the ability to analyse movement between competing hosting providers on a per-site basis. With this feature, current and previous hosting locations, netblock, operating system and server software for each site is shown.
Site Host First Seen New Rank Old Rank New Hosted By Hew Hoster Old Hosted By Old Hoster http://www.gwebtools.com 01/11/2008 96322 99144 server4you.net Intergenia AG global-datacenter.com Softlayer Inc http://obeus.com 01/10/2001 261523 248751 intergenia.de Intergenia AG global-datacenter.com Softlayer Inc http://www.mmistanbul.com 01/07/2004 302629 280276 intergenia.de Intergenia AG global-datacenter.com Softlayer Inc http://www.automotoportal.com 01/04/2006 315713 315920 intergenia.de Intergenia AG global-datacenter.com Softlayer Inc http://www.xxproxy.com 01/05/2007 406833 395720 intergenia.de Intergenia AG global-datacenter.com Softlayer Inc http://www.houselife.gr 01/06/2007 438654 486241 intergenia.de Intergenia AG global-datacenter.com Softlayer Inc
As of 1st January 2009, the Netcraft Toolbar community has blocked 1.9 million phishing attacks. To provide an incentive for the community to send us reports of phishing sites, reporters now receive the following goodies from Netcraft:
Netcraft Mug (after 100 validated phishing reports) Netcraft Polo Shirt (after 400) Targus Laptop Backpack (after 1,000) Top of the range iPod (after 4,000)
To report phishing sites to us, use the form at http://toolbar.netcraft.com/report_url
Upon reaching 4,000 you become eligible for a monthly competition to incentivise large reporters.
To track the progress, we have a leaderboard displaying the people with the largest number of accepted reports so far this month, identified by their first names to preserve their anonymity.
The Netcraft Toolbar, which is available for both Internet Explorer and Firefox, serves as a giant neighborhood watch scheme for the Internet: members who encounter a phishing fraud can act to defend the larger community of users against the attack. Once the first recipients of a phishing mail have reported the target URL, it is blocked for toolbar users who subsequently access the URL and widely disseminated attacks simply mean that the phishing attack will be reported and blocked sooner.
Looking back at 2008, Netcraft has seen phishing attacks evolve, with fraudsters using progressively sneakier tactics:
- October 2008 saw an attack against Yahoo! which was used to steal authentication cookies from its users. The cross-site scripting vulnerability on Yahoo!'s own website allowed the fraudster to steal the details simply as a result of a victim visiting the page.
- The two-edged nature of how browsers present Extended Validation (EV) SSL certificates was highlighted after a cross-site scripting vulnerability was demonstrated on paypal.com. This flaw would have allowed hackers to carry out highly plausible attacks, adding their own content to the site and stealing credentials from users.
- Phishers branched out into telephone phishing. Victims were asked to phone a toll free number to reactivate their card.
- Fraudsters found a cross-site scripting vulnerability on an Italian bank's website. This was used to orchestrate an attack against the bank, using its own HTTPS website URL.
- Backdoored phishing kits have been deployed by criminal programmers wishing to reduce their workload by getting novice fraudsters to deploy the kits onto websites and send the phishing emails. Netcraft later reported a large range of different phishing kits being offered by the same group.
The Netcraft Toolbar is available for the Firefox 3 web browser. The Netcraft Toolbar offers protection against phishing by using Netcraft's phishing database to block known phishing sites and provides a convenient mechanism for reporting newly discovered phishing sites.
Download the Netcraft Toolbar
In addition to blocking known phishing sites, the Netcraft Toolbar also displays a Risk Rating for all new sites it encounters. The Risk Rating — a user-friendly visual summary of the information displayed by the toolbar — evaluates new sites against characteristics of the phishing sites reported to date. Sites which are deemed safe will show a low Risk Rating, while riskier sites will show higher ratings based on a number of factors. To make it easier to judge whether you wish to continue browsing a site, the toolbar also shows which country and netblock the site is hosted in, and when the site was first seen.
Knowing which country a site is hosted in can help you spot risky content and highlight DNS poisoning attempts – if your US online banking site suddenly appears to be hosted in Russia, that would give good cause to be suspicious.
Some countries attract a large number of phishing incidents, often due to lax security or the increased likelihood of phishing sites staying around for longer. One particularly notable example is Cameroon, where the number of phishing attacks has exceeded the total number of sites hosted in that country. Netcraft publishes statistics on the phishiest countries in the world. You can also see how popular a site is with Netcraft's site rank.
A detailed site report shows further information about each site, including the web server's uptime:
Win an iPod
Netcraft gives away iPods to the top five reporters of validated phishing sites. A leaderboard tracks the top reporters for each monthly competition.
When you visit a page that you believe to be a phishing site, reporting it to Netcraft will allow other toolbar users to benefit from your vigilance. After you report a URL, Netcraft will review the report and block the page if it is confirmed to be part of a phishing incident.
UPDATE: Google have announced that iGoogle will be deprecated therefore these gadgets are no longer available for download.Netcraft has released a collection of 3 gadgets that can be added to your personalized Google homepage.
What's that site running?The What's That Site Running gadget gives convenient access to Netcraft's Web Server Query service, and will let you find out everything there is to know about a web site, such as where it is hosted, and what software it is running.
Netcraft NewsThe Netcraft News gadget displays the latest news on web security, phishing and web hosting. This gadget can be configured to display the date and short article summaries.
Report a phishing siteThe Report a Phishing Site gadget allows you to submit suspected phishing sites to Netcraft. The gadget can remember your name and email address, so each time you stumble upon a new phishing site, all you have to do is enter the fraudulent URL and the reason for it being reported. All accepted submissions are placed into the monthly iPod contest, where the top 5 reporters will win a top-of-the-range iPod.