Bot Malware Attacks Rise, As Search Engines Blacklist Fewer Sites

There are good bots such as search engines, and bad bots such as malware attacks. But the rate at which search engines blacklist infected websites continues to decline. Many who search the internet for information put their trust in Google, Bing and others to blacklist unsafe sites.

A study titled SiteLock Website Security Insider: Q2 2018 found that the number of infected websites remains steady, but search engines fail to flag about 83%, meaning that consumers are one click away from vulnerabilities.

In the second quarter of 2018, SiteLock estimates that just 17% of infected websites were blacklisted by search engines —  down 6% from the previous year. 

Overlooking a spam attack kit can wreak havoc on the search engine results of those sites, causing the site to lose customer trust and revenue — all without the site owner ever being alerted.

For the study, SiteLock analyzed more than 6 million websites protected by malware scanners. The study revealed that cybercriminals are continuing to carry out new and traditional malware attacks.



Cryptojacking doubled in the second quarter of 2018 compared with the first quarter, and there was a 16% increase in the prevalence of malicious Javascript files. This new trend is not surprising, because many cryptojacking scripts use Javascript kits to deploy and collect the mined cryptocurrency.

And counter to the increase in silent symptomless attacks, decreases in the number of traditionally noisier attacks containing a large number of files were detected. For example, SEO spam, which traditionally contains many files, has shown significant declines. The amount of SEO spam cleaned this quarter dropped 58% from the year before, down 4% compared with the prior quarter.

Some 60% of website traffic comes from internet bots, not humans. And while there are good bots in the mix such as search engine crawlers for indexing websites, far more bot traffic is malicious.

Of the 75,000 websites analyzed, the study found that websites are targeted by an average of 58 attacks per day, up 16% compared with the first quarter of the year.

Malicious bots represent 87% of all traffic filtered by SiteLock’s technology. About 9% of sampled sites had a least one vulnerability. Globally, up to 171.3 million websites have a vulnerability.

Vulnerabilities are often found in open-source applications, such as the three largest CMS applications -- Joomla, WordPress, and Drupal -- and their associated plugins and themes.

During the second quarter of 2018, SiteLock reviewed 4 million open-source content management system (CMS) websites that use vulnerability patching services. Across Joomla, WordPress, and Drupal, 61 individual vulnerabilities were discovered -- up 48% from the prior quarter, requiring 1,099 individual patches to address them.

The report describes several ways that companies can protect CMS platforms from potential attackers. Use a strong passphrase that includes mixed case letters, numbers, and special characters, and it is important to only enter that password over secured networks. Change the URL associated with the dashboard from the default using custom plugins. Doing so makes it more difficult for attackers to gain access to the administration of a site and cause damage.

Based on the data, SiteLock predicts a continued rise in symptomless attacks, such as cryptojacking. The number of attacks daily will fluctuate, but they will continue.


3 comments about "Bot Malware Attacks Rise, As Search Engines Blacklist Fewer Sites".
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  1. Craig Mcdaniel from Sweepstakes Today LLC, October 16, 2018 at 5:07 a.m.

    Laurie, this is a problem that is far worse than you wrote about. I have on the net 15 years now with and was rated number one in the world for the keyword "Sweepstakes". Now, you might be lucky to find me on page 20. Two reason, the scammer have a fairly new scam. They are buying new domains, worthless in value and the extention usually end in .Loan or some other cheap extention. The buyer, by backtracking goes through a private attorney in Panama and the Domain Regristar uses Russian for customer service. They have bought over 1000 different domains with hundreds of different pages they publsh. The contents of the pages are have 100's of name brands including my own. All pages are interconnected. It gets worse from here.

  2. Craig Mcdaniel from Sweepstakes Today LLC, October 16, 2018 at 5:18 a.m.

    Part 2. While Google Search is not in partnership with the bad guys, the bad guys has figured out how to use so-called "Index Websites" to their advantage. is one of the most honest and legit site that publishes thousands of Fortune 1,000 sweepstakes and contest. The bad guys attack some of these sweepstakes and the advertisers and sponsor by putting their company names in the contents of the spam pages (using there own domain name). By using their own domains, they get picked up in Google Search Engine. Because there are over 1,000 bad domain URLs that are interconnected by the contents of each page, they have pushed my website off of the Google Search Rankings. The bad guys get a higher rating that my 15 years legit domain. 

  3. Craig Mcdaniel from Sweepstakes Today LLC, October 16, 2018 at 5:30 a.m.

    Part 3. Google Search team and their SEO team knows of my concerns. Yes I have "Disavow" about 500 bad links in Google Search Console. I am not even scatching the surface of the problem.  A big reason is Google Search Indexing is actually helping the bad guys. This has dropped my company value down maybe as much as $8 million dollars based on accounting standards. I am also losing money where just a few years ago, I was very profitable. So I hope you will read this and pass this on to you Google contacts. Give the chance again to stay in business. My Google AdSense revenue has dropped from over $10,000 a month to around $1,500 now. Google also reduced revenue per ad at the time. If you have been wondering why there have been a lot of talk about lawsuits against Google by publishers, my story is common amoung the publishing community.  I might not join any suit but it will happen. 

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