Oil Depot Fire Knocks Web Sites Offline

The fires and explosions at an oil depot near London have knocked some prominent UK sites offline, and forced others to relocate to new servers. The explosions Sunday morning damaged a nearby data center operated by Northgate Information Services, which housed a number of popular UK web destinations. Among them was audio retailer Richer Sounds, whose site went offline at the time of the explosion:

Richer Sounds site performance

The site of the UK Labour Party was also out of service due to the fire. The party has set up a temporary site at PIPEX Communications while it seeks to recover the files for its site.

A statement from Northgate indicated that backup equipment was unusable. "The fabric of the building and the fixtures and equipment inside have been badly damaged," Northgate said. "The back-up systems that were in place have also been rendered inoperable. Northgate's ability to service its customers has therefore been temporarily affected." Northgate said its business continuity plan will allow it to restore services using other data centers.

Critical Security Hole in PHPMyAdmin

A critical security hole has been discovered in PHPMyAdmin, a popular program for managing MySQL databases. The vulnerability allows an attacker to defeat the program's security scheme by overwriting key system files, which in turn enables remote file inclusion and cross-site scripting attacks. The PHPMyAdmin project has released an update that fixes the issue, which can be downloaded here. Details of the security hole and its implications are outlined in an advisory from the Hardened PHP Project, which discovered the issue during a code audit.

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Strong growth for Debian

Debian is currently the fastest growing Linux distribution for web servers, with more than 1.2 million active sites in December. Debian 3.1 was declared stable in July and it appears that both the anticipation of this release becoming stable, and the release itself, have generated new interest in Debian, after some years where it had lagged behind its more active rivals. This growth is particularly noticeable at some of the larger central European hosting locations, including Komplex, Lycos Europe, Proxad and Deutsche Telecom.


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eBay Fooled by Fast-moving Phishing Scam

Sometimes even the targets of phising attacks have difficulty sorting out whether an e-mail or web site is bogus. In other instances, spoof sites remain online long after they are identified as criminal scams.

Both scenarios are found in a story related by an e-mail security researcher, who submitted an obviously fraudulent phishing site to eBay, only to have the auction company's staff e-mail back to insist that the site was legitimate and that the "bait" e-mail was sent by eBay.

The scam site, ebaychristmas.net, was blocked on Nov. 25 by the Netcraft Toolbar community. This particular fraud site illustrates the difficulty of relying upon web hosting services to protect Internet users by taking a site offline.

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December 2005 Web Server Survey

In the December 2005 survey we received responses from 74,353,258 sites. That's a decrease of 219.5K sites from the November survey, marking the first decline in the Netcraft survey since January 2003. Thus, a record year for Internet growth has ended with a whimper rather than a bang. After gaining 17.5 million sites in the first 10 months of 2005, the Internet lost 30,000 sites over the next two months.

This month's results are influenced by a decline of 1 million hostnames at Zipa, a New Orleans provider of hosting and colocation. Zipa added 1 million new hostnames in our September survey, and had an identical number of domains expire this month, the majority of these being .name domains. The pattern suggests the expiring domains may have been .name domains registered through a promotion which allowed registrars to bulk-register .name domains for free for 60 days. Last month's results were also weighed down by a block of expiring domains, in that case more than 800K .info names registered by eNom.

The December survey sees momentum continue to shift in the web server market, where Microsoft gained 463K sites, of which around 300K were at German hosting company Intergenia, while Apache (which is used by Zipa) had a net decline of 903K. Windows servers also outpaced Apache in active sites for the third straight month, during which it has lifted its market share in active sites by 4.1 percent to 24.4 percent.

Total Sites Across All Domains August 1995 - December 2005

Total Sites Across All Domains, August 1995 - December 2005

Graph of market share for top servers across all domains, August 1995 - December 2005

Top Developers
DeveloperNovember 2005PercentDecember 2005PercentChange

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Netcraft Toolbar Available for Firefox 1.5

Firefox users who haven't yet tried the Netcraft Toolbar are invited to install the latest version, which has been updated for compatibility with Firefox 1.5. Current users upgrading from Firefox 1.0.7 or earlier will need to install the newest version of the toolbar. Our toolbar download page allows Firefox users to choose the install for their version of the popular open source browser:

Netcraft Toolbar download for Firefox

Windows XP users upgrading from Firefox 1.0.7 who have disabled software installations as a security precaution may experience difficulty installing the newest Toolbar update. In Firefox 1.5, the software installation option has been removed from the user preferences and is enabled by default. If you previously disabled this option and then upgraded to Firefox 1.5, you can enable the preference by typing "about:config" in the address bar and scrolling down to "xpinstall.enabled." Set this to "true" and restart Firefox. You should then be able to update the Toolbar successfully.

The toolbar runs on any operating system supported by Firefox and displays the hosting location, country, longevity, popularity, and an abstracted risk rating for each site visited. Additionally, the toolbar blocks access to phishing sites reported by other members of the Netcraft Toolbar community and validated by Netcraft, mobilizing the community into a giant neighborhood watch scheme which empowers the most alert and experienced members to protect the vulnerable against fraud and phishing attacks. Toolbar users submitted more than 8,700 phishing URLs in October.

It is available to download from the Toolbar website, and requires no special administrator privileges to install. Customized versions with corporate branding and navigation are also available.