A graphic illustration of one of many malicious websites.

Is there a better way to avoid malicious websites?

The fight against hackers is a constant battle. Computer engineers have to deal with creating innovative ideas and protecting the devices they release into the public. The good news is that cyber security systems may have just received a significant boost. A research team at Princeton University’s Engineering School has developed a new tool that can detect malicious websites before a user even visits it.

Malicious Websites

It is hard to avoid being affected by malicious websites. You can evade web pages that you are not familiar with, but that limits your internet experience. Another way to protect yourself is by using internet security measures like a pop-up blocker and Anti-virus software. However, just visiting a malicious website puts your computer at risk.

These websites present a big risk to your computer and privacy. Some malicious websites con people into signing up for scams. Others install malware on your machine, either hoping to gain control over it or interrupt its functionality.

Identifying the problem Before It Affect You

The researchers created a system called the Proactive Recognition and Elimination of Domain Abuse at Time-of-Registration, otherwise known as the PREDATOR system. What it does is try to identify if a website is purchased by a legitimate or malicious source. The tool examines the behavior of each source and uses that to determine if a website is a threat. By classifying the patterns of each source, PREDATOR is able to warn a user before they even visit the web page.

“The intuition has always been that the way that malicious actors use online resources somehow differs fundamentally from the way legitimate actors use them,” professor Nick Feamster, one of the tool’s developers explained. “We were looking for those signals: what is it about a domain name that makes it automatically identifiable as a bad domain name?”

This tool is still in its infancy. The researchers believe that domain blacklist services and registrars of domains would have to use the system for it to be beneficial for regular internet users. Hopefully, further development can be made on this breakthrough tech.