Google's hosted applications are always a favorite of spammers, and now Google Sites, a free hosting service, is moving to center stage.
MessageLabs, a messaging and web security services company, said in its July Intelligence Report that spammers are focusing on the Google Sites application, which enables anyone to set up a website for free.
Spammers can easily create a web page composed of a string of random letters and numbers, resulting in a URL that is more difficult to block using traditional signature-based anti-spam tools.
“Spammers are using Google Sites and other Google applications like a shield,” Matt Sergeant, senior anti-spam technologist at MessageLabs, told SCMagazineUS.com on Thursday.
“In the past, they used their own domains, but the URLs would end up on a block list; whereas, hosting on Google Sites, the spammers can get through the blocks,” he added. “Plus, Google Sites have a lot more bandwidth.”
Another advantage to using Google applications, Sergeant said, is access to tools such as Google Analytics.
“Spammers can get free statistics to see how effective their campaigns are,” he said.
As of now, Google Sites accounts for only 1 percent of all spam. That, however, is a significant increase from a few months ago. Sergeant believes this upward trend will continue.
A Google spokesperson told SCMagazineUS.com that this is not a problem unique to Google, claiming that when a company offers an open platform, there will be those who use the sites for spam.
“We expect spammers to use every means possible to try to send spam,” the spokesperson said. “That's why we have a very robust spam-fighting effort at Google. We disable these accounts immediately and will continue to do so.”