Internet update: 225 million websites, more malware and spam

Chicago (IL) – Netcraft and Symantec’s Message Labs released several new interesting numbers about the Internet today. Apparently, the internet is still growing at a record pace, spam is on the rise again and more than 2700 websites hosting malware are going online every day.

If Netcraft’s monthly web survey is right, then the Internet has never been growing faster than these days. The company said that there were 224,749,695 sites at the end of February, up more than 9 million from January. The major driver of this growth was Chinese blog hoster QQ, which added about 8.9 million sites, while the number of Google hosted blogs dropped by more than 2.6 million over the month. QQ now hosts almost 29 million Qzone blogs, which is more than five times the blogs that are hosted by Google.

Apache remained the dominant web server software with a 46.35% share, down 2.24% for the month. Microsoft IIS was second with 29.47%, followed by QQ with 12.86% and Google with 2.40%.

Not unexpectedly, that growth is also increasing the amount of malware on the Internet. Message labs reported that the spam rate has reached pre-McColo levels and is now back at 75.7%, up 2.4 points from February. Spam levels in Hong Kong rose by 15.9% in March, positioning it as the most spammed country with levels of 88.7% of all email. Spam levels in the US rose to 78.4% in March, 76.3% in Canada and 68.4% in the UK. Germany’s spam rate reached 69.9% and 68.8% in the Netherlands. Spam levels in Australia were 86.4%, 88.4% in China and 85.9% in Japan, Message Labs said. Despite the overall increase, spam is substantially down from 2005 levels of more than 90%.

Viruses in email are also on the rise again, albeit on a much slower pace. The company said that 1 in 284.4 emails now contains a virus, which is also down from 2005, when 1 in 12.5 emails carried a virus. The phishing rate is similar at 1 in 284.6. There is no clear trend of phishing trends, as the numbers vary every substantially every month.

More dramatic is the number of sites hosting malware such as web viruses and spyware. Message Labs said that it currently detects 202 new websites with spyware every day on average – and 2595 websites with viruses. The firm said that 61.6% of all web-based malware intercepted was new in March. An average of 2797 new sites harboring malware and other potentially unwanted programs such as spyware and adware translates to an increase of 197.2% since February.