Improving Network Security through URL Web Filtering

When you hear about web filtering, some of the first thoughts that come to mind may be “The website you are visiting has been blocked due to company policy” or “The category for that site has been blocked by the school administrator.” While many businesses and schools use URL web filtering solutions to increase employee productivity or minimize liability, they can also be used as part of your defense against malicious sites and help to prevent malware, spyware, and virus infections.

Parked domains are an excellent example. One of the main purposes of a parked domain is to reserve it for a website that is still being developed. This proves useful to the owner but not so much for search engines or visitors that discover these pages, as the content on these types of sites are normally advertisements and full of seemingly-related links to other sites. Further, these ads are usually provided by third-parties and sometimes the act of viewing them can result in a drive-by download or a malicious software infection.

An example of a parked domain showing ad links for the keyword “store”
An example of a parked domain showing ad links for the keyword “store”

Parked domains can also appear when: A website owner forgets to renew their domain name before its expiration date, or if the owner doesn’t want the site anymore and they choose not to renew it. In either case the result is the same, the domain enters an “expired” state and many registrars monetize them with advertisements.

After a period of time of being in the “expired” state, that domain name becomes available again and anyone on the Internet can purchase and begin using it. There are third-parties that use this to their advantage and purchase these types of domains. Once in their possession, they begin using it to serve advertisements or worse, malware, spyware or even viruses. Usage of the domains like this can affect a larger audience since the domain already has web traffic from search engines and prior visitors.

An example of a parked domain showing ad links for the keyword “pets” because the original domain was an organization called “Pet Over-Population Prevention Advocates”
An example of a parked domain showing ad links for the keyword “pets” because the original domain was an organization called “Pet Over-Population Prevention Advocates”

These are good reasons why you’ll find the “Parked” category as part of our website category list and category API. To many visitors, these advertisement serving, parked domains might seem legitimate. And perhaps it is, as not all parked domains are bad. However, since most parked domains exist to tell the visitor that the website is “coming soon” or for simply serving ads, is it worth risking a potentially nasty computer infection? That is why we recommend adding parked domains to your organization’s blocked list in your URL web filtering tool to reduce your overall chances for unwanted spyware, malware and viruses.