Wi-Fi hotspots commonly found in many American coffee shops, restaurants and other popular after-school hang outs are providing kids with what they demand – free Internet access. This may help keep them connected with family or friends, in addition to sparing parents from costly data plan overages, but the complimentary Web access was proven to come with a twist in an Adaptive Mobile independent study. The adult, dating, extremist, drug, gambling and other similarly objectionable content typically blocked at home by some type of parental controls solution is easily accessible by kids at these Wi-Fi locations.
ISPs, Telcos, device manufacturers, and security vendors go to great lengths to provide their customers’ with online security from malicious and objectionable content (adult, pornography, hate speech, terrorism, cryptocurrency mining, etc.). The industry’s best web filtering (and dns filtering) and parental controls are powered by a global network of over 600 million end users providing unmatched coverage and accuracy of active web traffic and websites. zvelo provides 99.9% coverage and over 99% accuracy for the ActiveWeb. That’s best-in-class website categorization database for OEMs and device manufacturers.
I got my hands on a copy of a Northwestern University research paper titled “Evaluating Android Anti-malware against Transformation Attacks.” After digging into it, my zveloLABS colleagues and I decided to conduct an experiment of our own based on the information provided in the research paper.
In early 2013, zvelo deployed a new approach to detect spam web pages. These web pages have little value and consist mostly of meaningless content and links, sometimes objectionable in nature, or worse yet they can be used to host and spread malware. Spam web pages continue to sprout online and following are some interesting trends about the types of web content spammers are targeting, which zveloLABS has mapped out.
Web spam is the bombardment of mostly unsolicited advertising messages or links sent across a wide array of media, including social networking websites, instant messaging applications, online newsgroups or forums, mobile phones, and blogs. Web spam has even been found stuffed within the results pages of popular search engines like Google. While the majority of web spam is benign, certain campaigns are tied to particular types of web pages disguised to contain valuable information. In actuality, these spam web pages are often littered with irrelevant and meaningless content, sometimes inappropriate in nature, or worse yet they can be used to host and spread malware.
The recent crackdown on well-known Torrent services, aided by Internet Service Providers, has led to the increasing use of anonymizers. As the name implies, anonymizers allow for anonymous web browsing and are used by end users to bypass restrictions or blocks to web content. Anonymizers are proxy services, or “proxies,” that receive and execute web requests on behalf of the user, making online activity untraceable. It is the untraceable aspect of anonymizers that has caught the attention of the underground community.
The media consistently warns people that clicking on links within emails from unknown sources can be dangerous. What about links in seemingly harmless emails received from individuals of trust? More so, what if the URL of a said link points to a familiar website? In recent weeks, zveloLABS® has identified several websites that appear benign in nature at first glance, but after further analysis these sites have been categorized as malware distribution points. What made the following case study interesting is that none of the well-known Internet blacklists and malware analysis tools flagged these URLS as being malicious. The following analysis shows how these trusted control mechanisms were circumvented with nothing more than a guise and a fundamental understanding of how the Internet operates.
zvelo is proud to support the Internet Watch Foundation in its mission to make the internet a safer place for all. By working to assess and remove webpages that disseminate criminal content and child sexual abuse content, the IWF is helping to stop criminal activity and to protect web users.
If the top Google suggestions for “how to get around” prove anything, it’s that people want access to websites like Facebook and YouTube during times and at places where such web usage is normally prohibited. In fact, “how to get around blocked sites” is the number one “get around” topic suggestion on Google. Students seek ways to thwart content filters at schools, and employees try to outwit the policy management controls of enterprise networks.
It’s hard to imagine unsolicited spam getting any more annoying. One way would be to receive it from three different sources and at the same time, which is precisely the type of hybrid spam campaign zveloLABS™ recently unearthed.
An Interview with Jeff Finn, CEO of zvelo
You have the firewall that blocks incoming viruses, worms and spyware. However, if you are not utilizing web filtering, your IT security solution is not complete. Jeff Finn, CEO of zvelo, recently interviewed with Kerio, a zvelo OEM Partner, about zvelo’s web categorization services used in the Kerio Web Filter.