According to research, there are approximately 162 million websites on the Internet as of April 2008. To put this into perspective, in 1996 there were only 100,000.
Talk about a meteoric rise.
The cause of this growth has many roots.
First there are Internet Marketers (IMs) promoting “how to make money online”. This of course requires a website or more. Frequently IMs suggest you should have more than one website. These are referred to as “micro” sites. Micro sites are nothing more than a website with one or two web pages that get people interested in a “micro” niche to click over to your main site.
These micro sites are targeted with very specific, narrowly focused keywords to draw people in.
With unemployment so high, we have many people looking to make money online so the IMs are growing constantly which means the number of websites are growing as well.
Secondly, (notice I didn’t use “firstly” above – ugh) we have software makers pumping out “design a website in 30 minutes or less” products.
This makes many non-web developers think they can become web developers with no proper training. Many of the people in this category will remain self-proclaimed web developers and actually do more harm than good.
Also in this category we have many IMs creating websites that offer to help create websites – “with little or no training.” This is scary. Productive, but scary.
Note: Even my daughter has a website as a Math Teacher and my wife’s Aunt has developed a website for their vacation property. Their self-education is never ending and should be applauded. Both of these websites are under constant watch by me so I know they’re safe. [wink]
Third, we have the huge blog explosion.
There are so many blogs that Google has a separate category for searching through bl0gs on their Google Toolbar. (I know this because I use it frequently)
Why all of this concern about how many websites there are and how easy it is to create them?
I’m glad you asked.
This phenomenal growth of epic proportions has opened the door to cybercriminals. (You knew I was going to bring this around to hackers didn’t you?)
Really, it has.
Think about it. When the automobile was in it’s infancy and people could buy them without understanding them, owners had to bring them to specialists to fix them. Then as the market matured, people learned how to fix them themselves. Markets flourished with “how-to” books and auto parts stores.
In today’s world, auto mechanics are PhDs and knowledgeable in all things mechanical, electrical and electronic – the market has gone full circle. Once again fixing an automobile requires a specialist.
The Internet is the same way.
In the beginning web developers were in charge. The world couldn’t produce enough of them as the “dot com” bubble grew and grew and grew. The software tools weren’t what they are today. In 1998 you couldn’t take a course in Web Development – they simply weren’t offered.
Today, you can’t even watch the news on TV without the newscasters talking about following them on Twitter or Facebook. I see people at the gym on the treadmills using their cellphones to keep up on their Facebook friends. The Internet has reached epic proportions.
What the courses in Web Development don’t teach however is how to design a website that can’t be hacked. This is the real tragedy of this incredible growth.
Hackers know that with a potential pool of 162 million websites, they’re going to find many vulnerable to one of their attack methods. Cybercriminals know that many websites are created by non-specialists.
Not to say that all compromised websites serving malscripts to every Tom, Dick and Harry is the fault of web developers – it’s not. But even many experienced web developers lack proper security training.
Would you change your brake pads without bleeding the brake lines? (My father-in-law says “no”) Any good mechanic would tell you that just isn’t smart. That wouldn’t be safe.
We’ve been seeing a phenomenal growth in the number of websites serving up malscripts. Malscripts are made by hackers, inserted into legitimate websites that do nothing more than infect visitors with some remotely stored virus that gives the hacker remote control of the infected computer.
We frequently see requests like this in public forums and blogs:
“About a week ago Google posted a “this website might be harmful” message with our website listing. After review we have found out that someone has added damaging code to our software. we have been told it is http://removeddomain/E/J.JS/
IS THERE anyone out there that has experienced or knows this code and has advice on how to find and fix the problem. This is causing damage to our good name and service.”
The guy who owns this website is trying to conduct business on the Internet and hackers decide to make money off of him and in the process damage his company’s good name and service.
Now don’t you think that someone should have been watching that website? His concern is about his company and his reputation online but what about those who visited his website? Many of them probably don’t even know that just by visiting his website they were subjected to a computer infection.
Would you drive your car for years without ever bringing it in for service? Don’t you depend on those little indicator lights on your dashboard that tell you when your car needs servicing?
Why website owners aren’t more vigilant about their websites will remain a mystery to me. I guess many of them are so focused on their business that they don’t think about their website getting hacked.
That’s just my opinion.
This rant will be closed with this erudite philosophy (thanks Ed):
“There is much to be said for modern journalism. By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, it keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community. ” (Oscar Wilde)
The above post is my opinion – uneducated or not. You have now been kept in touch with the ignorance of the community.