/ nic.at News - 28.08.2020 07:32
Website languages in the .at-zone
Every few weeks, our Research & Development team analyses the home pages of all .at websites with regard to their language. This is done not only to get a more detailed overview of the .at-zone, but also for security reasons. After all, if the language of a website suddenly changes, this could sometimes indicate a hacking incident.
Not surprisingly, the majority of .at-sites are in German (88%), followed by English (10%) and a small percentage of other languages - this is based on the language in which a site is presented when it is accessed.
By the way, the examination of the start pages is similar to that of search engines - with the difference that the aim is not to analyze the actual content of the website. Instead, language recognition is based on a simple idea: certain letter combinations and characters occur more frequently in some languages than in others. For example, a "¿" indicates that a text was written in Spanish, while a "Z" at the beginning of a word is characteristic of the German language. Based on statistical evaluation of the letter combinations that occur on a page, it is therefore possible to predict the language with a very high probability - without having to understand the content of a page.
"The crawling of .at web pages is a basic technology that is also an essential building block in the context of IT security: The same techniques used to detect language are also useful to determine whether a web page has been hacked or not," says Aaron Kaplan (CERT.at). "Imagine that the language of a community's home page changes from one day to the next and suddenly online betting games are sold there".
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