Microsoft Update Will Remove Sony DRM Rootkit

Upcoming releases of Microsoft's spyware removal tools will uninstall Sony copy-protection software that functions as a rootkit. "We have analyzed this software, and have determined that in order to help protect our customers we will add a detection and removal signature for the rootkit component of the XCP (Extended Copy Protection) software," Jason Garms of Microsoft announced on the Anti-Malware Engineering Team blog. "Rootkits have a clearly negative impact on not only the security, but also the reliability and performance of their systems." The detection of the Sony tool will be included in upcoming releases of the Malicious Software Removal Tool, which is updated through Windows Update, as well as the beta of Windows Antispyware.

Sony uses XCP software to restrict unauthorized copying of music CDs. The software's controversial operations were detailed by Mark Russinovich of SysInternals two weeks ago, prompting alarm among many security experts. "Although the software isn't itself malicious, the hiding techniques used are exactly the same that malicious software known as rootkits use to hide themselves," noted F-Secure, which soon discovered a trojan attempting to use the Sony XCP software to disguise its presence. Fortunately, the trojan had coding errors that prevented it from spreading widely.

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November 2005 Web Server Survey

In the November 2005 survey we received responses from 74,572,794 sites, an increase of 181K hostnames from the October survey. This was the smallest increase in sites since January 2004 and was attributable to a decrease of 810K hostnames at the domain registrar enom, nearly all of which were parked .info domains that expired without being renewed.

The drop marks the first fallout from a move by Afilias (the operator of .info) to offer its names to registrars at no cost. In September 2004, an enom affiliate registered 1 million .info domains in a week, and offered them to customers owning similar names in .com. As the renewal date arrived last month, enom allowed the unclaimed domains to expire. Hostway, which offered free .info domains to customers last fall, had a decline of 215K sites last month, including 175K expiring domains.

The .info expirations impacted web server market share, since the expiring domains at enom were hosted on Windows Server 2003. That creates a 0.5% shift in market share in Apache's favor in hostnames. Among active sites, the trend is reversed, as Windows gains 0.85% while Apache has gains 0.12%.

Total Sites Across All Domains August 1995 - November 2005

Total Sites Across All Domains, August 1995 - November 2005

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

Top Developers
DeveloperOctober 2005PercentNovember 2005PercentChange
Apache5200581169.895292874070.981.09
Microsoft1529303020.551509654720.24-0.31
Sun18899892.5418795762.52-0.02
Zeus5859720.795797760.78-0.01

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Datapipe, Rackspace and Interland Most Reliable Hosters in October 2005

Ranking by Failed Requests and Connection time,
October 1st - 31st 2005

hoster_performance_october05.PNG

Familiar names occupy the top positions in this month's survey of the most reliable hosting company sites, as Datapipe, Rackspace and Interland share the top slot for October. This is the sixth time this year that Rackspace has won or shared the top slot, while Datapipe (four times) and Interland (twice) have also made multiple appearances atop the list. There's one new face in this month's top 10, HostingZoom, a Houston-based mixed hosting company that hosts its company site on a server at The Planet.

Five Linux sites are found in the top 10 this month, along with two sites running on Windows 2000, two on Windows Server 2003 and one on FreeBSD. This continues the strong performance by hosters running their web sites on Linux. Of the 12 providers who have appeared atop the reliability survey for at least one month, six are hosted on Linux, while three use Windows 2000, two host on FreeBSD, and Windows Server 2003 and Solaris 8 are each used by one provider.

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Hosting Wars Heat Up as Microsoft Readies Free Service

The hosting marketing wars are heating up, with leading providers rolling out dirt-cheap shared hosting accounts with massive allowances of disk space, bandwidth and e-mail. Hosting behemoths 1&1 Internet and Go Daddy are competing for small business customers, while also raising the bar for Microsoft, which will begin offering free web hosting and free domain names early next year.

The intense competition for small business customers is further commoditizing the shared hosting space, as plans with monthly fees under $5 now offer more resources than most prospects can imagine, much less use. That's good news for hosting customers, but a challenge for smaller hosting providers, who are pursuing new services and strategies to capture profitable niches.

The latest salvo came Wednesday from Go Daddy, which announced a tenfold increase in the disk space and bandwidth specs on its entry level shared hosting plans. For $3.95 a month, web site operators get 5 gigabytes of hard disk space and 250 gigabytes of data transfer. The company also lowered its domain registration fee to $6.95 per year, good through Nov. 30. "Customers won't find a better hosting price, product or service on the Internet, period," said Go Daddy President and Founder Bob Parsons.

When Go Daddy introduced its hosting plans in 2003, a $3.95 a month account featured 25 megabytes of disk space and 1 gigabyte of data transfer, levels equivalent to less than 0.5 percent of the new specs. A customer using all of the allotted 250 gigabytes of monthly data transfer would pay 1.6 cents per gigabyte. By comparison, many hosting providers charge $2.50 to $4.95 per gigabyte when a customer exceeds their monthly allotment.

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Attacks Target XML-RPC Flaws in PHP Blogging Apps

Hackers are launching attacks on popular PHP-based blogging, wiki and content management program that failed to patch a serious security hole discovered in July. The attacks exploit flaws in the way PHP libraries handle XML-RPC commands, and appear to be targeting installations of WordPress and Drupal.

If left unpatched, an attacker could compromise a web server through vulnerable programs including WordPress, Drupal, PostNuke, Serendipity, phpAdsNew and phpWiki, among others. These projects all issued fixes six months ago, as did the authors of the affected PHP libraries.

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New 1&1 Hosting Packages Start at $2.99 a Month

Major hosting companies continue to slash prices for hosting accounts and domain names in an effort to attract small businesses launching new web sites.

1&1, the world's largest hosting company, has introduced Beginner Accounts for both Linux and Microsoft servers. The accounts are just $2.99 a month, and include a domain name, 1 gigabyte of web space, 2 gigabytes of email storage, 50 gigabytes of monthly transfer, 150 email accounts and a MySQL database. The account specs, which would have seemed extraordinary several years ago, are consistent with an industry trend in which providers compete on disk space and bandwidth, rather than price. By offering features consistent with a standard plan in an economy offering, 1&1 seems intent on doing both.

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