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StopBadware Releases Best Practices for Web Hosting Providers

March 16, 2011 by  

Hosting ToolboxCambridge, MA — StopBadware announced today the release of its Best Practices for Web Hosting Providers: Responding to Malware Reports, a set of high-level guidelines for hosting providers to follow upon receiving reports of malware on their networks. StopBadware’s best practices set universal expectations for the role of web hosting providers of all sizes in managing badware.

Malicious actors frequently create seemingly legitimate websites that contain or link to malware, or compromise established websites to infect those sites’ users. Security researchers regularly identify these sites on hosting providers’ networks and report them to providers. While some web hosting companies have regular procedures for responding to such abuse complaints, there’s a lack of consensus across the industry about the steps hosting providers should take once a malware report is received. This lack of common standards is compounded by the innate complexity of hosting environments. “When web hosting providers address reports of malware on their networks in a timely manner, they can greatly reduce the spread of badware,” said Maxim Weinstein, executive director of StopBadware. “StopBadware’s best practices aim to assist hosting providers by providing a clear, realistic framework that they can use to streamline response procedures and better protect users.”


StopBadware announced in November of 2010 that it was increasing its focus on the role of web hosting providers in strengthening the Internet ecosystem. The same month, the organization assembled an advisory working group to assist in the development of the Practices. “Our web host working group has been an exceptional resource for us these past few months,” said Weinstein. “Discussing this topic with security researchers, privacy advocates, and members of hosting companies in real time was invaluable, and as a result we at StopBadware have a lot of confidence in the final document and its potential for effective implementation.”

Several industry-leading hosting providers, including Verio, GoDaddy.com, SoftLayer, and Network Solutions, have already voiced their support for the Practices. “StopBadware’s best practices for hosting providers align with our own philosophy on how to effectively manage malware reports,” said Paul Kincaid-Smith, Solution Architect at Verio and member of StopBadware’s web hosting working group. “These best practices are a great framework for hosting providers who are committed to protecting their customers.”

StopBadware has previously worked to create transparency, educational resources, and an appeals process for website owners whose sites have been blacklisted for badware content. A report on the state of badware is expected this spring, and the organization has plans to develop additional best practices over the coming months.

StopBadware is also releasing additional materials to accompany the best practices; these additional materials are available on StopBadware’s website and are intended to help web hosting companies understand and adopt the Practices. To learn more about StopBadware’s best practices or to download a copy, visit http://stopbadware.org/home/webhost.

About StopBadware

StopBadware provides tools and information that assist industry and policymakers in meeting their responsibility to protect users from badware, and that help users protect themselves. It began as a project of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University before spinning off as a stand-alone nonprofit organization in 2010. Corporate partners include Google, PayPal, Mozilla, Nominum and Verizon. StopBadware is based in Cambridge, Mass. For more information, visit www.stopbadware.org.

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