July 2011 Web Server Survey

In the July 2011 survey we received responses from 357,292,065 sites.

Apache gained a further 10.8 million sites this month, taking its total up to 235 million and increasing its leading market share by nearly a whole percentage point to 65.9%. OVH, who saw massive growth of 8.7M hostnames last month, gained a much smaller but still significant 1.5M this month. The largest growth was exhibited by Softlayer, gaining 3.5M.

Microsoft IIS is now used by more than 60 million websites, a growth of 1.9M hostnames, capturing 16.8% of the market. Though most of these sites are served directly from Windows computers, fronting Windows machines with an F5 BIG-IP load balancing device remains a popular option and is used on around 8% of Microsoft IIS sites. Microsoft themselves serve nearly half a million hostnames on IIS through BIG-IP, for example http://windows.microsoft.com. VPLS, Inc., who saw a big drop of 1.5M last month, saw the biggest growth this month, adding 800k hostnames and more than doubling their total.

Despite gaining 689k sites, nginx's share fell slightly this month to 6.54%. Google suffered a slight loss last month, and also experienced the largest loss this month, with its total falling by a further 317k sites.

Total Sites Across All Domains
August 1995 - July 2011

Total Sites Across All Domains, August 1995 - July 2011

Market Share for Top Servers Across All Domains
August 1995 - July 2011

Graph of market share for top servers across all domains, August 1995 - July 2011

DeveloperJune 2011PercentJuly 2011PercentChange
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StartSSL suspends services after security breach

StartSSL has suspended issuance of digital certificates and related services following a security breach on 15 June. A trademark of Eddy Nigg's StartCom, the StartSSL certificate authority is well known for offering free domain validated SSL certificates, but also sells organisation and extended validation certificates.

More than 25 thousand websites in Netcraft's SSL survey use certificates issued by StartSSL. These are recognised by Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and other mainstream browsers.

StartSSL is not alone in offering free certificates. AffirmTrust recently trumped StartSSL's one-year certificates with its own offer of free three-year domain validated SSL certificiates. Coincidentally, AffirmTrust announced its launch on the same day as the StartSSL security breach.

StartSSL is also not the only certificate authority to come under attack this year. In March, Comodo came under attack through three of its resellers. By compromising a GlobalTrust website, the so-called ComodoHacker managed to fraudulently issue several valid certificates, including ones for the login pages of Yahoo and Skype. These certificates were subsequently revoked and browser software was updated to explicitly blacklist them.

LulzSec fuels growth at CloudFlare

Nine months after its launch, content distribution network CloudFlare is now used by more than 40 thousand sites in Netcraft's web server survey. The company announced its public beta at TechCrunch Disrupt in September 2010, where it came in as a close runner-up. Despite not winning, CEO Matthew Prince later described how Disrupt brought his team together and resulted in an increase in signups without having to carry out any additional PR or marketing.

CloudFlare also gained customers after recent praise from LulzSec, who use the service to run their website at lulzsecurity.com. LulzSec have accrued more than 200 thousand followers on Twitter as a result of their attacks against high-profile targets such as Sony, Fox, PBS and the X Factor.

When a website uses CloudFlare, client requests are made to a global network of edge nodes rather than to the website itself. This can increase performance, particularly when an edge node is located somewhere that can respond faster than the website's original hosting location.

By monitoring site traffic, CloudFlare can also offer some protection against denial of service attacks. When malicious traffic is detected, it can be automatically blocked at the edge nodes, before the traffic hits the website. Matthew Prince reported some DDoS attacks against CloudFlare yesterday, but noted that the service had not been impacted.

However, AnonNews used to be a prominent user of CloudFlare until the service was disabled after a DDoS attack affected the CloudFlare network. With traffic instead being routed directly to the server hosting anonnews.org, it has been seemingly unable to withstand the current series of attacks against it. The domain is registered to Sven Slootweg, who told Netcraft, "They had to turn it off on my domain for the past few days because of a really large DDoS attack." He added, "It apparently seriously affected their network. There is one or more Turkish patriot hacker groups constantly attacking AnonNews."

Nonetheless, CloudFlare's growth is continuing at a strong rate. The accessibility and cost of the service is undoubtedly playing a large part in this success – no contracts are required, and users can either sign up for free, or pay only $20 per month for a Pro account which offers better performance, advanced security protection and real-time stats. CloudFlare will also be offering an enterprise service soon.

SOCA back online after DDoS attack

The UK Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) is back online after a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack by LulzSec forced the agency to take their website offline yesterday.

A SOCA spokesman told BBC News that the agency had chosen to take its website offline to limit the impact on other clients hosted by their service provider, Connect Internet Solutions.

The agency – which is responsible for pro-active operations against serious and organised crime – was targeted as part of Operation Anti-Security (#AntiSec), which was announced on Sunday. The top priority of the operation is to "steal and leak any classified government information, including email spools and documentation. Prime targets are banks and other high-ranking establishments."

With reference to its DDoS capabilities, LulzSec also added: "If they try to censor our progress, we will obliterate the censor with cannonfire anointed with lizard blood."

Leader.ir under attack?

The website of the Supreme Leader of Iran, Sayyid Ali Khamenei, has been responding very slowly or not at all for most of the day, which is often symptomatic of a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. However, with nobody claiming responsibility for such an attack – which is rather unusual lately – there could well be a less nefarious reason for the problems.

Earlier this year, the 'hacktivist' group Anonymous orchestrated a DDoS attack against leader.ir in support of Operation Iran, which accused Iran of operating an illegal regime for the past 32 years. This attack was not successful, but a separate attack against the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcaster (irib.ir) did appear to succeed.

AffirmTrust enters the SSL market with free certificates

A new SSL certificate authority may be set to shake up the market by offering free 3 year domain validated certificates. AffirmTrust announced its entry into the SSL market yesterday, with an interesting mission statement:

"To give away as many free certificates as possible because we can - also it is just a lot of fun. We want to move an industry forward making security more available to every legitimate merchant on the Internet. AffirmTrust is not just a business - it's a quest to make meaningful change that benefits both merchants and consumers."

Although the company is new to the market, AffirmTrust's management team already has several years of relevant experience behind it – they were responsible for co-founding SSL company GeoTrust, which was later acquired by VeriSign in 2006 for $125 million. Today, the GeoTrust brand is owned by Symantec, which acquired VeriSign's security business last year.

AffirmTrust is not alone in giving away free SSL certificates. Eddy Nigg's StartSSL also offers free domain validated certificates, although these are only valid for a period of 1 year. Both companies also sell Extended Validation certificates, which require a more costly vetting process to ensure they are only issued to legally established businesses or organisations.

Domain validated certificates are generally the cheapest type of certificate available. This is because the issuance process can be automated to a high degree, as the applicant does not have to prove their identity – all they have to do is prove that they own (or control) the domain in question. This has no doubt played a large part in the popularity of domain validated certificates compared with Extended Validation certificates, particularly amongst low-traffic, low-revenue websites.

Despite the free alternatives, the paid-for domain validated certificate market still looks extremely healthy today: Netcraft's latest SSL Survey shows Go Daddy having the largest net growth in domain validated certificates during each of the past 4 months. With that in mind, it will be interesting to see the impact that AffirmTrust will have on the market, and whether any other companies will follow suit by offering free domain validated certificates.