Malware can be anything that infects a computer system, or, in this case, your website server. That concludes things like ransomware, where your files are encrypted on your website and they force a bitcoin ransom or something like that. SEO spam, which infects your website with spam keywords and pages, not a good look, and then there are also things like crypto miners adware. That kind of stuff – and nobody wants that on their website. Nobody wants that right.
So it’s not just something that affects computers, it infects websites, yes, websites are definitely a risk and you want to make sure you’re taking steps to monitor your environment and protect it, and having a plan for response is also very important. How big of an issue really is this? Well, there’s a stat out there that says that there’s what 75 % chance that a business is going to be attacked and right now they say that there’s about 40 % of traffic to your website, who’s actually BOTS and about half of that is malicious BOTS.
So how do we go about identifying if our site is infected with malware? Well, what you can do is you can run a scan on your website. We have a tool called security site check. You can also just monitor your activity logs. If you have, somebody can do that, maybe a developer. You also want to make sure that you’re doing practicing good password management, making sure that your users are set with the permissions that they should have.
So obviously the least privileged principle: you want to make sure that they only have an admin for as long as they need it, and then you put them back down to the role level that they need right on so that the site check is great. Is there anything that, like super obvious, that we should be checking? Is that, like on Google, is there our website? What does that look like yeah? Definitely well, one of the biggest things is to make sure that you’ve updated your site. A lot of the problems that we see are because of websites that are out of date and have security, vulnerabilities updates, which don’t always mean new features. Sometimes they mean that you’re. Actually, you know patching a security flaw that would let a hacker get in and then do whatever they want with your website right.
What is SEO spam is another really bad one where they inject pages and keywords into your site. It can show up in your Google search when people are looking for your brand and you’ll see pharmaceuticals, gambling stuff like discount fashion spam.
The malicious redirects that you’re talking about are so terrible because they’re taking your traffic and sending them to like another web site, that’s maybe unsavory, and you know that’s not a good look for your brand. It causes a loss of trust, so it’s definitely not ideal. Having a website firewall in place is a really great step to mitigate that it forces all traffic to go through the firewall first before the visitors hit your website.
It also has the benefit of speeding it up by caching and using a CDN network. So the firewall is kind of like digging a moat around your house. Keeping all the bad neighbors is delicious, so the website is hacked. Not a lot of people have a response plan in place. If you have somebody you can trust you can remove the malware and has those technical skills that are a great way to go. Or there are some tools that can remove things automatically, but that doesn’t always catch a lot of the hidden backdoors.
An attacker will always try to leave some way to get back in. If you just you know, go in and clean up the spam pages and keywords. The next day, they’re back in and your site’s reinfected and a lot of that is automated on the hacker’s part. So if you want to take steps, there are some guides out there. We have one on the secure net on how to clean your hacked website scan for malicious files in the database, and then you can just remove the pieces of malware manually.
Generally, you probably want to contact a professional and have them help you out. It’s usually gonna be a bit faster and they’ll make sure those back doors are gone and that you’ve been removed from any blacklists as well. It’s another really important point. Are you don’t want to get blacklisted by Google? Nobody likes that, then. Your rankings are gone, and an important thing to remember is these hackers. They don’t care who you are, they don’t care what your site is about. They just care about hacking your site and making money off of you.
So it’s not personal. They just send out their BOTS do anything that they can find they get in there in automation, is super scary, they’ll have a list of thousands of WordPress websites that they might want to attack it’s not ideal, and then they can further automate the attacks from there and again. Small websites are fine because they can use your server resources. They can use it for SEO spam to try to get other sites to rank that they want those just using your resources. They can even use your site to attack bigger sites. How? What does that look like so like? Let’s say you are a hacker and you have a botnet of like a thousand infected websites.
You can use the power of all those servers to launch attacks on like a larger company, so a DDoS attack right yeah, a DDoS attack, so essentially with that you can think of it as like a highway and there’s you know cars getting into your website and The hacker is flooding that highway with a bunch of fake cars, and now no real people can actually get into your website and that’s so good and then all that traffic’s down it looks like you’re doing it. Nobody wants to come to a website and see that blank white loading page. Like you know most visitors will leave a website after like three seconds of waiting for it to load and it can cause. You know a lot of disruption for conversion rates and that kind of stuff, so not ideal for your business. If your website ever gets hacked like. If you have a visitor that comes there, they’re likely.
Never coming back, they’ve lost the trust with your business, because if you can’t protect your own site, how can you protect their information totally? It’s doubly important if you’re an e-commerce site, even if you have gateways for payment that are not hosted on your site like through PayPal or authorized Artnet or anything, you still have to be PCI compliant and make sure that you’re protecting the details of the people. On your site, now, with the website and security, should we’ve talked about malware removal and things like that? Should our customers and our audience really have the SSL on the site too? Is that important? Yes, absolutely SSL is awesome and a lot of people equate SSL with security. What else does is make sure that any communication between the visitor’s browser and your website is encrypted, so it’s data in transit, that’s being protected.
SSL doesn’t actually help your website from not getting attacked by a hacker, but it’s all still very important. It’s a ranking signal from Google, so it can help your website get to the top of Google. If you have SSL – and it’s just rapidly becoming kind of de-facto, that you have to have SSL on your website as a way to establish trust with your visitors, I love it and that trust thing is important, because if you don’t have an SSL on your site, the browser says not secure to the everyday person. They see not secure they’re out. So after we’ve cleaned up the malware.
What should we do going forward to make sure that this doesn’t happen again or that we’re just protected for sure yeah? You? Don’t want to deal with reinfection as those really suck so number. One most important thing is to change all your passwords so passwords for your server, your FTP, your hosting account any of your user accounts, because any of those could have been compromised during the attack and these don’t use passwords. One exclamation, yes, make sure you’re using good, long, complex, unique passwords for everything because they get one password and you’re reusing it everywhere. That’s just your Facebook account on their bank account now they’re everywhere and it’s possible managers make it a lot easier. I can’t recommend them enough. I think that’s, probably one of the top security tips that we hear it’s curry.
What’s a password manager, a password manager is a tool in your browser that will allow you to store and even generate really good passwords. So when you go to a site as long as you’re logged in to your password manager, with your one master password that by the way has to be super strong stores, all of your passwords, one password to rule them all yeah, which is awesome as long as You’re logged in to your password manager, it’ll even autofill, the passwords for you, so it makes your life a little easier and it takes the guesswork out of having to create a password that you’re gonna remember, but that’s also very strong and difficult to hack awesome. What else we look at to really prevent this from happening again or just protecting ourselves?
There’s a lot of different post hoc actions and we could go into security forever. It’s a never-ending kind of thing. There’s no such thing as not really your own risk you’re. Always some element of risk, but obviously you know making sure that you’re changing default settings like don’t use the username admin. You know you can do a lot of things through plugins and kind of thing if you’re using a CMS, but there’s also a lot of steps to take on the server like changing file permissions and things like that. Definitely recommend looking for some guides out there for website security.
We have a couple on secure, yet that are freely available, but yeah definitely taking just extra steps to make sure that you’re thinking about security and setting those options awesome now backups. I hear this all the time back is back those backups. What’s your emergency plan, how often are we making backups and what does that look like? Well, it really depends on your site if you’re updating your site very frequently. You know it’s very important for you to be able to restore all that recent content. Then you want to be making you know daily or even more frequent backups. You know for some sites that are only updated, weekly or monthly.
Maybe those are how frequently you want them. One important thing to think about with getting hacked and using a backup is sometimes attackers will attack your site and wait four months to actually launch the attack. So they’ll get in and they’ll sit there for a while, and then your backups are actually infected, so that still has a backdoor in it.
That could be troublesome, but still, nonetheless, it’s great to have that safety net, especially if you have custom files on your site. If those get overwritten by a hacker – and you don’t have any way to restore the custom files, it’s not like you can just pull down the WordPress plug-in files or the core files right. You want to make sure for sure that those are backed up alright.
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