The web is still small after more than a decade

Nguyen Phong Hoang, Arian Akhavan Niaki, Michalis Polychronakis, Phillipa Gill


Understanding web co-location is essential for various reasons. For instance, it can help one to assess the collateral damage that denial-of-service attacks or IP-based blocking can cause to the availability of co-located web sites. However, it has been more than a decade since the first study was conducted in 2007. The Internet infrastructure has changed drastically since then, necessitating a renewed study to comprehend the nature of web co-location.

In this paper, we conduct an empirical study to revisit web co-location using datasets collected from active DNS measurements. Our results show that the web is still small and centralized to a handful of hosting providers. More specifically, we find that more than 60% of web sites are co-located with at least ten other web sites—a group comprising less popular web sites. In contrast, 17.5% of mostly popular web sites are served from their own servers.

Although a high degree of web co-location could make co-hosted sites vulnerable to DoS attacks, our findings show that it is an increasing trend to co-host many web sites and serve them from well-provisioned content delivery networks (CDN) of major providers that provide advanced DoS protection benefits. Regardless of the high degree of web co-location, our analyses of popular block lists indicate that IP-based blocking does not cause severe collateral damage as previously thought.

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