Can You Trust That Web Site? is a (beta) service for detecting and analyzing web-based malware. It provides detailed information about the actions a browser takes while visiting a site and presents the information for further analysis. It uses Intrusion Detection Systems (IDSs) (Suricata with Emerging Threats and Snort with VRT), reports about the ASN, reviews the Java scripts, reports requests and responses.

See Metawebsites for additional web sites that may have information about a suspicious web site.

Trust is hard to come by. When you get a phone call and the caller asks for personal information, it would be better for you to call them back at a telephone number you independently obtain. For example, they say they’re from your bank; call your bank and ask for them.

What can you do with web sites? The role of certificates is to allow you to trust that which is certified; a web site, for example. In the absence of a certificate or if you are convinced a certificate is insufficient, what else can you do?

Picture this: A link on a job board which offers a job with the DEA takes you to dea/ applicant.html (spaces inserted to prevent accidental reference). That seems odd. It isn’t in the GOV top-level domain (TLD). It appears to be a job application, asking for personal details, appearing to be associated with government agencies. Is this a phishing attack, collecting information, ready to steal your identity, clean out your bank account?

There’s no certificate to verify.

The WHOIS command is a quick way to see if you might want to trust a web site. If they register anonymously, if they don’t want to tell you who they are, then don’t trust them. If their web page has no contact information, then don’t trust them. Don’t trust posted contact information to be accurate, but an absence of contact information is a good reason not to trust them.

WHOIS indicates that the name has existed for ten years. That’s the first good sign we’ve had. Then we learn that the domain’s owner owns 238 other domains. This is looking awfully suspicious.

Change the way you look at the question. Find the DEA’s web site. Find their Careers page. Search for the job. Finding a job of the same description as the one advertised should tell you nothing, since a phishing attack will typically lift text and images from a legitimate web site. You learn that the Justice Department posted jobs through USAJOBS.GOV. You should be convinced you’ve found a scam … except that USAJOBS.GOV sends you to

This won’t be simple will it?

Rule of thumb: If they market through fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD), don’t trust them. Social engineering is at work. They may be correct, but shared mistrust should not be confused with trust.

What do you want to know?

  • Are they hosting malware?
  • Are they collecting money but providing no product or service?
  • Are they collecting personal information?
  • Are they who they say they are?

You may be able to determine if they have been hosting malware. This is a useful first step. If you suspect that the web ite is a scam, use other approaches (such as ScamBusters). will scan a web page and report blacklists, malicious redirects, malicious or hidden iFrames, deface / content modification.

Project Honey Pot has an IP Address Inspector which reports malicious activity detected. This would be of use to firewall administrators, but of little use when determining if a web site is trustworthy.

Search based upon MD5, IP address, hostname or the beginnings of a URL

Has the web site hosted malware?

Has the IP address hosted malware?

Sometimes you just want to see what happens when you send a request to a server. See

Security is transient. Each of these resources may have reviewed the web site and found it to be trustworthy one day only for it to be changed into an untrustworthy site the next day.

April 9, 2010: WordPress sites hacked. See WordPress support and Sucuri Security. Symptom:  “wp-option” table, “siteurl” setting changed to “”.

(2, 0, 'siteurl', '', 'yes'),

Web sites receive a web browser’s user agent string. This enables the web site to present content customized for that user agent. (To learn your user agent string, visit or WhatsMyUserAgent.) A thorough web site review requires access with a variety of user agent strings. Almost all web testing tools have features which enable you to specify a user agent string.

vURL Online (and vURL Desktop Edition) will “quickly and safely dissect malicious or suspect websites.” Parse the HTML before you connect to a web page. It will run these tests from your choice of servers around the world. If you will be entering personally identifiable information, you may wish to know something to look for. Look for the HTML “form action“. You should see something similar to one of the following:

<form method="POST" action="/order.cgi">
<form method="POST" action="">
You don’t want to see an IP address used; it is unprofessional and suspicious.

Here are some permutations of URLs and form actions:
<form action="/cgi-bin/login.cgi" method="get">
no encryption, not secure
<form action=" method="get">
switched from https to http, not secure
<form action= method="get">
switched from http to https, secure
<form action=/cgi-bin/login.cgi method="get">
started and stayed secure
  • Malzilla, like vURL Desktop Edition, is a web site analysis and de-obfuscation tool and Malware hunter. This could be your first step, depending upon how familiar you are with HTML. Typically requires Visual C++ 2008 redistributables and OpenSSL; see Malzilla error “The ordinal – LIBEAY32.dll”.
  • vURL Desktop Edition can be downloaded and run locally.
  • Script Decoder Decode JScript, ASP pages, VBScript obfuscated with Microsoft’s Windows Script Encoder (screnc.exe)

hpHosts may help us find malware at this ISP, perhaps even the new hosts for Russian Business Network (RBN).

BFK Passive DNS Replication

DShield Mirror of ISC. ISC uses the DShield distributed intrusion detection system for data collection and analysis. Submit firewall logs here.

Temerc Check Spammers Learn if the email address or IP address or username is on someone’s SPAM list (and why).

Malware Patrol Malware Patrol is a free, automated and user contributed system for verifying URLs for the presence of Viruses, Trojans, Worms, or any other software considered Malware.

Web of Trust (WOT) can refer to a user-community web site rating system. A user-community cannot be expected to share the same understanding about terminology or technology. When a web site receives a red untrustworthy rating, that should be interpreted as “we think there’s something you should know about this web site.”

Additional network information tools are gathered at

Stanford University offers a presentation demonstrating web-based malware.

“Tabnapping”: From an untrustworthy web site, a malicious party modifies the web page in another tab of your browser. For example, the page is modified to appear as of it were a logon page. In this way, credentials are captured.

“Verified by VISA” and “MasterCard SecureCode” (3D Secure): How online card security fails Why is 3-D Secure a single sign-on system?

The Whitewash module allows Ruby programs to clean up any HTML document or fragment coming from an untrusted source and to remove all dangerous constructs that could be used for cross-site scripting or request forgery. All HTML tags attribute names and values, and CSS properties are filtered through a whitelist that defines which names and what kinds of values are allowed.

Summary: eCommerce and personally identifiable information require additional measures. Watch for the green bar in the URL window. See SSL Vulnerability Debriefing.

Online Trust Alliance (OTA): OTA’s mission is to develop and advocate best practices and public policy which mitigate emerging privacy, identity and security threats while enhancing online trust and confidence, innovation and the vitality of commerce. As a non-profit, membership is open to all businesses, industry, law enforcement and government agencies committed to collaboration and enhancing online trust and confidence.

Cleaning your site information from Google

Malware Must Die! blog

The Website Analysts’ Resource is a small organization that focuses on finding and deobfuscating malicious code that can be found on the internet. This website is dedicated to advanced website analysis, the discussion of detection algorithms, and tools that reduce the time taken to analyze a suspect site.

5 Responses to Can You Trust That Web Site?

  1. […] also Can You Trust That Web Site? to see information is being shared regarding your […]

  2. […] can you trust the program’s source. Learning to suspect the source and being cautious (see Can You Trust That Web Site) is […]

  3. […] of HpHosts as your first step (my advice from Can You Trust That Web Site?), go to vURL. vURL reveals and expands the redirected web site. You can learn what the obfuscated […]

  4. […] how well did the “Can You Trust This Website?” services do? I wasn’t fast enough to test “”. The […]

  5. Robert Treat says:

    Another reliable site to check site safety is