April 2013 Web Server Survey

In the April 2013 survey we received responses from 649,072,682 sites, 17.6M more than last month.

This month, market leader Apache lost 9.9M sites, or 3 percentage points of market share. A major contributor to this loss was the movement of a large affiliate referral network consisting of around 8M sites now being served by nginx. Apache is now used by just over 51% of websites, which is still substantially more than its closest competitor Microsoft IIS. IIS gained 1.95 percentage points of market share this month (an increase of 15.8M hostnames) bringing its market share to almost 20%. Meanwhile, nginx saw an overall growth of 10.6M sites this month, with the largest nginx hosting company, Hetzner Online AG, contributing an additional 1.6M sites.

In terms of active sites the survey was less volatile. Apache still experienced an overall loss, however much smaller at just 288k active sites. The biggest increase came from nginx, and was unrelated to their large hostname gain described earlier, with Peer1 Networks gaining 1.5M nginx active sites.

North Korea's drew the world's attention to its web presence by accusing the United States and its allies of "intensive and persistent virus attacks" on servers operated by the North Korean regime. The Korean Central News Agency's press release goes on to assert that:

"It is nobody's secret that the U.S. and south Korean puppet regime are massively bolstering up cyber forces in a bid to intensify the subversive activities and sabotages against the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea]."

There is only a very small number of North Korean sites accessible from outside of the country; however, these sites do make use of several modern and popular web technologies from around the globe. The Rodong Sinmun newspaper's site uses PHP and CentOS 5, and hosts an HTTPS service with an expired self-signed certificate. More controversially, The Korean Central News Agency's official website uses Java, Flash and jQuery and is hosted using Apache 2.2.3 on a server running Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5, a commercial Linux distribution which is owned, distributed and supported by American multinational Red Hat, Inc. Red Hat Enterprise Linux is subject to U.S. export controls, which specifically prohibit its use in North Korea. As a result, this installation is likely unlicensed and so may not receive security updates.

Meanwhile in South Korea, the Government of Korea, an SSL certificate authority (CA) trusted by Microsoft has revoked the last of more than 100 unusual SSL certificates each of which could have allowed its owner to act as a trusted CA. With the ability conferred by the cA bit being set in the Basic Constraints extension, a forged certificate signed using the mis-issued certificate could be trusted for any site by users of some SSL implementations. Any such certificate could be used to perform man-in-the-middle attacks on users of third-party websites in order to view the contents of any intercepted encrypted traffic. There is an additional property which is usually required for a certificate to be considered a valid intermediate — ‘Certificate Signing’ should be set as a permissible Key Usage — but some implementations may ignore this extra requirement. None of the Korean certificates found had the necessary flags set in this additional extension, so most implementations would not trust such forged certificates.

The certificates found appear to have been issued to South Korean academic institutions without the intention of them being able to sign additional certificates. These certificates have been in the Netcraft SSL Server Survey for some time but no longer pose a risk: all of the certificates concerned have either been revoked or have expired. The most recent revocation was on January 31st 2013 for a certificate issued in late 2011, showing it was at risk of misuse for more than a year.

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For more information see Active Sites

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