Identifying Risk Factors for Webserver Compromise

Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 8437)

Abstract

We describe a case-control study to identify risk factors that are associated with higher rates of webserver compromise. We inspect a random sample of around 200 000 webservers and automatically identify attributes hypothesized to affect the susceptibility to compromise, notably content management system (CMS) and webserver type. We then cross-list this information with data on webservers hacked to serve phishing pages or redirect to unlicensed online pharmacies. We find that webservers running WordPress and Joomla are more likely to be hacked than those not running any CMS, and that servers running Apache and Nginx are more likely to be hacked than those running Microsoft IIS. Furthermore, using a series of logistic regressions, we find that a CMS’s market share is positively correlated with website compromise. Finally, we examine the link between webservers running outdated software and being compromised. Contrary to conventional wisdom, we find that servers running outdated versions of WordPress (the most popular CMS platform) are less likely to be hacked than those running more recent versions. We present evidence that this may be explained by the low install base of outdated software.

Keywords

Content-management systems Webserver security  Case-control study Cybercrime Security economics 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This work was partially funded by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate, Cyber Security Division (DHS S&T/CSD) Broad Agency Announcement 11.02, the Government of Australia and SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific via contract number N66001-13-C-0131. This paper represents the position of the authors and not that of the aforementioned agencies.

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Copyright information

© International Financial Cryptography Association 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Computer Science and Engineering DepartmentSouthern Methodist UniversityDallasUSA

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