In the January 2022 survey we received responses from 1,167,715,133 sites across 269,835,071 unique domains and 11,700,892 web-facing computers. This reflects a loss of 1.15 million sites, but a gain of 1.51 million domains and 31,100 computers.
nginx lost 7.33 million sites this month (-1.91%) but continues to be the most commonly used web server with 32.3% of all sites using it. Although nginx’s share has fallen, Apache is still more than eight percentage points behind after losing 3.70 million sites (-1.31%), which has taken its own market share down to 23.9%.
nginx also leads in the domains metric, where it has a share of 26.6% compared with Apache’s 23.9%. This reflects a small reduction in nginx’s share – despite a modest gain of 25,400 domains – while Apache suffered the largest loss of 287,000 domains.
The largest site and domain growth was seen by Pepyaka, which is a web server that has primarily been used by the Wix web development platform since it switched from using nginx in 2018. The number of sites using Pepyaka grew by 4.02 million to 7.30 million this month, while its domain count went up by 1.80 million to 3.30 million.
The next largest domain growth was seen by OpenResty, which gained 686,000 domains this month, and 1.34 million sites in total. The second largest site growth was seen by Microsoft, which gained 2.46 million sites and now accounts for 4.86% of all sites and 5.00% of all domains.
Constraining the view to active sites, Apache is still the most commonly used web server, but its market share has fallen slightly to 23.4% after losing more than half a million active sites this month. Meanwhile, nginx gained 230,000 active sites and has increased its share to 20.2%.
Apache also maintains a slight lead in the top million websites, where it is used by 235,000 sites compared with 222,000 for nginx. However, Cloudflare has increased its presence by a further 4,959 sites and is now not too far behind with a total of 191,000. If this trend continues, Cloudflare could soon overtake both nginx and Apache to become the most commonly used top-million web server.
Looking at web-facing computers, nginx’s strong growth continues unabated. This month it is being used by an additional 32,700 web-facing computers and its market share has increased to 37.7%. Its lead over Apache was further extended by Apache’s loss of 29,100 computers, which sent Apache’s share down to 29.9%.
- Apache 2.4.52 was released on 20 December 2021. This is the latest release from the 2.4.x stable branch and includes two security fixes amongst a host of other changes.
- Apache Tomcat 9.0.56, 10.0.14 and 10.1.0-M8 (alpha) were released on 8 December 2021. Each of these versions include a fix for a known operating system bug that could cause incoming connections to be reported more than once.
- nginx 1.21.5 was released on 28 December 2021. This is the latest release in the mainline branch of nginx and is now built with the PCRE2 library by default.
- njs 0.7.1 was also released on 28 December 2021. This release includes several bugfixes and some other changes to ensure that njs scripts use the same regular expression library as nginx.
- Microsoft has mitigated an insecure default behaviour in the Azure App Service that inadvertently exposed hundreds of source code repositories. The team that found the vulnerability noted that it had existed since September 2017 and has probably been exploited in the wild. The problem could have impacted PHP, Node, Ruby, Python and Java applications that serve static content, as well as some Azure App Service Linux applications that were deployed using Local Git after files were created or modified in the content root.
- Cloudflare has introduced a new product called Bulk Redirects, which lets website administrators upload and enable large numbers of URL redirects. These were typically implemented with Page Rules before, which are limited to a maximum of 125 redirects.
- OpenResty 188.8.131.52 RC1 was released on 16 December 2021. This version is based on nginx 1.21.4 and adds several new features including support for BoringSSL.
|Developer||December 2021||Percent||January 2022||Percent||Change|
In the December 2021 survey we received responses from 1,168,864,866 sites across 268,328,184 unique domains and 11,669,818 web-facing computers. This represents a loss of 6.53 million sites, but a gain of 1.30 million domains and 144,000 computers.
nginx lost a significant number of sites (-23.88 million) and domains (-8.54 million) this month, though it continues to hold the highest market share in both categories with 32.9% of sites and 26.7% of domains. nginx’s domain market share lead over Apache dropped significantly, falling from a 5.6 percentage point lead to a 2.6 percentage point lead. nginx also gained 81,100 web-facing computers this month, giving it 37.5% of market share in this category.
Apache also lost sites (-3.09 million) and domains (-446,000) this month, though it gained 5,700 web-facing computers. Apache continues to hold second place across all three key metrics.
The largest increase in both domains and hostnames was seen for “awselb”, used by Amazon’s Elastic Load Balancing service, and accounts for the majority of the loss experienced by nginx. The change was as a result of GoDaddy’s URL redirector service, which allows domains registered with GoDaddy to be pointed at arbitrary URLs, being moved from their own hosting facilities to Amazon’s ELB service.
Many other web servers also saw reasonable growth in the number of sites this month, with OpenResty and Microsoft gaining 2.42 million and 2.15 million respectively, followed by LiteSpeed and Cloudflare with 1.76 million and 1.28 million. Fewer servers gained domains this month, though OpenResty gained a respectable 850,500 (+2.19%).
Cloudflare gained 2,431 sites in the million most popular sites, increasing its market share by 0.24 percentage points to 18.6%. Apache continues to maintain a slim lead over nginx, though both lost sites this month. Microsoft’s market share dropped, as it lost 4,119 sites this month taking it to 6.15% of the total and down from 6.89% at the start of the year.
Log4Shell impact on web servers
A critical vulnerability dubbed “Log4Shell” was identified in the Java log4j logging library, and was publicly disclosed on 9th December. The vulnerability has impacted a broad range of organizations as the log4j library is widely used, and the flaw can be easily exploited to break into systems, steal data, and infect networks with malicious software.
Many widely-used web servers such as Tomcat and Jetty are written in Java but do not use the log4j library by default so are not directly affected by the issue. However, they can be configured to do so, and it is also possible that sites that use popular web servers written in other languages - Apache and nginx are written in C, for instance - may still use the vulnerable library at some level in their technology stack.
Several less well-known servers integrate the log4j library directly, such as IBM WebSphere. Several WebSphere components such as the Admin Console use the library and so are vulnerable to the issue, while applications served using WebSphere may be vulnerable if they use the library. IBM WebSphere is not widely used: this month Netcraft identified 3,778 sites using the server, which were hosted on 830 IP addresses. Amongst these, Netcraft found government and banking websites, though it is unknown whether these sites are vulnerable.
- Apache 2.4.52 was released on 20 December. This release fixes several security issues, including a possible buffer overflow in mod_lua and server-side request forgery vulnerability in forward proxy configurations.
- nginx unit 1.26.1 was made available on 2 December and fixes several bugs introduced in the 1.26.0 release.
- Lighttpd 1.4.62 and 1.4.63 were released in quick succession at the start of December and include many minor changes and bugfixes.
- Apache Tomcat 9.0.56, 10.0.14, and 10.1.0-M8 (alpha) were released on 2 December.
|Developer||November 2021||Percent||December 2021||Percent||Change|
In the November 2021 survey we received responses from 1,175,392,792 sites across 267,027,794 unique domains and 11,525,855 web-facing computers. This reflects a loss of 4.06 million sites, but a gain of 1.60 million domains and 137,000 computers.
nginx gained the largest number of domains (+741,000) and web-facing computers (+81,300) this month and continues to lead in both metrics with market shares of 30.1% and 37.3%.
Further down in the market, there was also a noticeable increase in the total number of web-facing computers running LiteSpeed, which went up by 11,200 to 101,000 (+12.5%), although this resulted in only a 1.44% increase in domains. These counts include sites that run on LiteSpeed Web Server and its open source variant, OpenLiteSpeed, both of which exhibit the same “LiteSpeed” server banner.
Both nginx and Apache lost nearly 4 million hostnames each, reducing their sites market shares to 34.7% and 24.4%. Meanwhile, Cloudflare gained 1.15 million sites, which has taken its total up to 58.6 million (+2.00%) and increased its sites share to 4.99%.
nginx and Apache also suffered losses amongst the top million websites, paving the way for Microsoft to increase its presence by 2,369 sites (+3.75%). Microsoft web server software is now used by 65,600 of the top million sites, but Apache is still the most commonly used web server in this sector, with 240,000 of the top million sites using it, and nginx is not far behind with 224,000.
Apache 2.4.49 vulnerability
Following last month’s news of a path traversal vulnerability in Apache 2.4.49 being actively exploited in the wild, this month’s survey shows that more than 11 million websites had server banners containing “Apache/2.4.49” before a fix was released. The only other version vulnerable to attack was Apache 2.4.50, which failed to fix the vulnerability properly – but this version was released after the survey ran and was promptly replaced with Apache 2.4.51, where the vulnerability was resolved properly.
The true number of websites that were vulnerable during the survey period is likely to have been much greater than the 11 million websites that openly reported themselves to be running Apache 2.4.49, as nearly two-thirds of all Apache-powered websites do not reveal a version number in their server banners. This configuration is often a deliberate act towards security through obscurity, although attackers can often deduce precise version numbers by carrying out additional tests. There may also have been additional vulnerable instances of Apache 2.4.49 hidden behind frontend load balancers or content delivery networks such as Cloudflare.
Conversely, some websites running on Apache 2.4.49 may not have been vulnerable if they used an appropriately configured web application firewall that prevents path traversal attacks. More generally, the true number of web servers that contain a version-specific vulnerability can also be masked by future backported security patches, which typically fix vulnerabilities without changing the apparent version number of the software. From an external perspective, a server might appear to be running a vulnerable software version but may not actually be vulnerable to the issues affecting that version.
- LiteSpeed Web Server 6.0.11 was released on 10 November. This is the latest version in the LSWS 6.0 stream and includes improvements in HTTP/2 and HTTP/3 throughput, new support for WebSocket proxy targets in rewrite rules, and several bugfixes.
- Microsoft has announced new Azure Bounty Program rewards of up to $60,000 to encourage and reward research into vulnerabilities that would have the highest potential impact on the security of its customers.
- nginx 1.21.4 mainline was released on 2 November. This version includes some new features and changes relating to TLS and HTTP/2.
- Lighttpd 1.4.61 was released on 28 October to address a number of bugs. Lighttpd is used by 245,000 unique domains in this month’s survey.
- njs 0.7.0 was released on 19 October to add HTTPS support for its Fetch API, along with a few other new features and bugfixes.
- Apache Tomcat 9.0.54, 10.0.12 and 10.1.0-M6 (alpha) were released on 1 October, followed by Tomcat 8.5.72 on 6 October.
- Cloudflare Pages now supports custom headers natively, without having to use Cloudflare Workers. This makes it easier for developers to add best-practice security headers and others to their JAMstack applications.
- Cloudflare for SaaS is now generally available to all, following a beta launch earlier in the year.
|Developer||October 2021||Percent||November 2021||Percent||Change|
In the October 2021 survey we received responses from 1,179,448,021 sites across 265,426,928 unique domains and 11,388,826 web-facing computers. This reflects a loss of 8.59 million sites, but a gain of 1.07 million domains and 20,800 computers.
The number of unique domains powered by the nginx web server grew by 789,000 this month, which has increased its total to 79.5 million domains and its leading market share to 29.9%. Conversely, Apache lost 753,000 domains and saw its second-place share fall to 24.7%. Meanwhile, Cloudflare gained 746,000 domains – almost as many as nginx – but it stays in fourth place with an 8.15% share while OpenResty's shrank slightly to 14.5%.
Cloudflare also made strong progress amongst the top million websites, where it increased its share by 0.24 percentage points to 18.2%. nginx is in second place with a 22.5% (+0.12pp) share but has closed the gap on Apache which still leads with 24.0% after losing 0.21pp.
Apache also continues to lead in terms of active sites, where it has a total of 48.0 million. However, it was the only major vendor to suffer a drop in this metric, with a loss of 277,000 active sites reducing its share down to 23.9% (-0.29pp). In terms of all sites, nginx lost the most (-9.99 million) but remains far in the lead with a total of 412 million.
Apache vulnerability being actively exploited in the wild
Apache 2.4.51 was released on 7 October. This is the latest release in the 2.4.x stable branch, which the developers consider to be the best available version of the Apache HTTP Server; but more importantly, this release fixes a path traversal vulnerability present in Apache 2.4.49 and 2.4.50. Apache 2.4.50 was itself released a day earlier in an attempt to fix the vulnerability present in 2.4.49, but the fix was found to be insufficient.
The vulnerability is being actively exploited in the wild, so anyone still running an unpatched Apache 2.4.49 or 2.4.50 installation should upgrade immediately. In some cases, the path traversal vulnerability could facilitate remote code execution on the web server.
Due to the nature of this vulnerability, some otherwise vulnerable installations may be immune to attack if a web application firewall (WAF) is in place, or if a frontend proxy or load balancer modifies malicious requests in a way that makes them safe. For instance, all vulnerable Apache installations served via the Cloudflare content delivery network would have been protected from the outset if Normalize URLS to origin were enabled, and the Cloudflare WAF has rules that would have stopped many exploit attempts.
Other vendor and hosting news
- During September, Microsoft released fixes for three elevation of privilege and one remote code execution vulnerabilities in the Open Management Infrastructure (OMI) framework, which is used by several Azure Virtual Machine management extensions. The remote code execution vulnerability can only affect customers using a Linux management solution with remote OMI enabled. A full list of the vulnerable extensions and update availability is being maintained on the Microsoft Security Response Center blog.
- Microsoft announced the general availability its Azure Purview data governance solution on 28 September.
- On 5 October, Microsoft removed the waiting list for its Azure NetApp Files bare-metal cloud file storage and data management service.
- lighttpd 1.4.60 was released on 3 October. This version includes a large number of changes, including several bugfixes and improved handling of HTTP/2 connections.
- LiteSpeed Web Server 6.0.9 was released on 20 September to address several bugs and add a new log rotation feature. OpenLiteSpeed 1.7.14 – the open source edition of LiteSpeed Web Server Enterprise – was released on 7 September.
|Developer||September 2021||Percent||October 2021||Percent||Change|
In the September 2021 survey we received responses from 1,188,038,392 sites across 264,360,621 unique domains and 11,368,033 web-facing computers. This reflects a loss of 23.4 million sites, but a gain of 627,000 domains and 40,300 computers.
The largest increase in both unique domains and active sites was seen by LiteSpeed this month, with gains of 571,000 (+9.3%) domains and 458,000 (+6.0%) active sites. Much of this increase was concentrated at a single hosting provider, NameCheap, where there were corresponding drops in the numbers of domains and active sites using Apache. As a result, LiteSpeed’s market share in the domains metric increased by 0.21 percentage points to 2.6%.
Cloudflare also saw strong growth in domains, with an increase of 519,000 resulting in a small increase in its market share to 7.90%. Amongst the million busiest websites Cloudflare had substantially the biggest increase in use, leaving it with an 18.0% market share. It is now just 44,000 sites or 4.4 percentage points of market share behind nginx in second position.
Other server vendors to see increases in terms of unique domains include OpenResty which grew by 314,000 domains, and market leader nginx which grew by 195,000. Despite having only the fourth largest growth this month, nginx maintained its 29.8% market share.
The number of web-facing computers using nginx has increased once again, whilst both Apache and Microsoft lost both in absolute numbers and market share. This month nginx saw an increase of 40,800 raising its market share to 37.2%. Apache and Microsoft each lost 0.24 percentage points of market share to leave them with 30.8% and 11.9% shares. LiteSpeed gained 4,660 computers (+5.9%).
|Developer||August 2021||Percent||September 2021||Percent||Change|
In the August 2021 survey we received responses from 1,211,444,849 sites across 263,733,974 unique domains and 11,327,711 web-facing computers. This reflects a loss of 4.99 million sites, but a gain of 1.64 million domains and 67,600 computers.
The number of unique domains powered by the nginx web server grew by more than a million this month, while Apache's count fell by 916,000. This has extended nginx's lead in the domains metric, giving it a 29.8% share compared with Apache's 25.5%.
OpenResty gained 234,000 domains, but its market share remained static at 14.5%, while Cloudflare gained 726,000 domains and increased its market share to 7.72%.
The number of web-facing computers using nginx has continued to increase, this month by 49,000 (+1.18%). There are now 4.19 million web-facing computers running nginx, compared with 3.52 million that run Apache. Microsoft follows in third place with 1.38 million computers.
The web-facing computers metric has painted a remarkably stable trend over the past several years, as is evident in the graph below, with both Microsoft and Apache steadily falling while nginx has progressively climbed to first overtake Microsoft in 2017, and then Apache during 2020. There has also been a rise in "Other" web servers, which includes several nginx-based spinoffs such as OpenResty and Tengine.
Websites in Afghanistan
The Taliban offensive in Afghanistan has obvious potential to upset the country's internet infrastructure, but the extent of any changes may be limited. Afghanistan has had a relatively small presence on the web throughout the past 20 years, and many of its sites were already hosted outside of the country and used generic top-level domains to avoid interference from the Taliban.
This month's survey found only 8,031 websites hosted in Afghanistan, and 23,205 sites that use Afghanistan's .af country-code top-level domain (ccTLD). More than two-thirds of the latter are hosted in the US, and more than 2,000 are hosted in Germany – although any site that relies on a .af domain would still be vulnerable to interruption by the country's new government, should it desire.
Nearly 1,000 of the .af sites are Afghan Government websites that fall under the .gov.af second-level domain – such as president.gov.af and kabul.gov.af – but surprisingly, less than half of these are hosted in Afghanistan, with the rest being hosted in the US, Germany, Singapore, France, Canada, UK, Netherlands, Ireland and India.
Even more surprisingly, dozens of the .gov.af sites hosted in the US and Germany are used to host webmail services, potentially putting Afghan Government communications in easy reach of external intelligence agencies.
Other vendor and hosting news
- Microsoft has announced the general availability of Azure Government Top Secret. The new air-gapped Azure regions are intended to handle national security workloads at the US Top Secret level.
- Microsoft also announced its new Azure Healthcare APIs, which provide pipelines to manage protected health information data at scale.
- Statistics collected by Azure DDoS Protection showed a shift towards attacks against web applications in the first half of 2021.
- Apache Tomcat 10.0.10 was released on 5 August, followed by Tomcat 10.1.0-M4 (alpha) and Tomcat 9.0.52 on 6 August, and Tomcat 8.5.70 on 16 August. All four of these releases correct the regression of an HTTP/2 flow control bug in their previous versions.
- OpenResty 184.108.40.206 was released on 6 August. This version of the web platform based on nginx and LuaJIT now uses nginx 1.19.9 (a mainline release from 30 March) as its core, and also includes some LuaJIT fixes.
|Developer||July 2021||Percent||August 2021||Percent||Change|
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