The research found that 8.7 percent of websites reached via the TinyURL service, and 5.0 percent of websites reached via Bit.ly, receive poor ratings for ‘trustworthiness’ and ‘child protection’ – as measured by WOT’s millions of crowd-sourced reputation scores.
Further analysis comparing the top level domain names (TLDs) that host these websites shows that the URL shortening services are often exploited to drive traffic to loosely-regulated countries where as much as 90 percent of the websites are suspicious.
The top five most exploited domains are:
- .ac (Ascension Island) – 91% of websites are rated poorly
- .ms (Montserrat) – 65% of websites are rated poorly
- .pr (Puerto Rico) – 46% of websites are rated poorly
- .mu (Mauritius) – 36% of websites are rated poorly
- .tc (Turks and Caicos Islands) – 35% of websites are rated poorly.
The .com top-level domain (TLD) is the most popular by a wide margin, but as a percentage it hosts the fewest dangerous websites (only 2.5% of .com sites are rated poorly for ‘trustworthiness’ and 3.6% are rated poorly for ‘child safety’)
The three most common TLD alternatives to .com are corrupted by a surprisingly large percentage of poorly rates websites:
- .info – 10.7% of websites are rated poorly
- .net – 9.6% of websites are rated poorly
- .biz – 9.5% of websites are rated poorly.
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