How to Detect Malware on your Website

Anyone who has ever dealt with malware on their website would probably agree that they never want to deal with it again. Those who have never had problems with malware should count their lucky stars.

According to research, a person may have malware on their website or device and be completely unaware that they have it. It’s an unfortunate, pain-in-the-rear situation that over 18.5 million websites deal with weekly. That’s right… Over 18.5 million websites are victims of malware every week. The average website is attacked 44 times every day. 

What is Malware?

Malware is the combination of the words malicious software. It’s a software that was coded to destroy devices, steal data, and absolutely ruin a website. You may recognize malware as a computer virus. It also comes in other forms such as trojans, worms, malvertising, and much more. 

If you’re new to the game, we know that security terminology can sometimes be difficult to understand. But, bear with us! 

Malware usually comes from a team of hackers looking to prey on the “ignorant” of the world wide web. As the motivation for any job on the planet, these hackers are looking to make a quick buck by hacking and selling your website information to the highest bidders on the dark web. In the past, hackers would destroy technology and invade websites just for fun. Of course, there are most likely some people out there who hack websites to relieve some boredom. Though, most of the time, current malware creators do it for the moolah. A hacker’s main goal is to damage any new technology to generate some revenue. (Yes, it’s a dark world out there!)

Regardless of how malware occurs, it can cause major problems if it attacks your website. Depending on the type of malware and the device it attacks, determines what you will experience. Malware can oftentimes be well hidden on your website, even if you think you’re using a secure and reliable web hosting platform. It’s well-hidden because hackers don’t want you to know that your website is being hacked. They prefer to stay in the shadows and be as sneaky as they can!

You may be thinking, “How do I avoid this?”

If your site has already been attacked, you may be thinking, “How do I get rid of this!?”

Don’t worry, we have an answer to both! 

When it comes to malware, no website or device is safe! But, there are cautionary steps you can take to prevent it from happening. 

How do I know that I have Malware? And how do I prevent it?

If you think your website might be infected or you’re just curious to see the results, you should consider scanning your website. Google offers a free malware checker that will detect any issues on your site. 

If you suspect that your site may have issues, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to enter your URL and check out the results. 

For WordPress-based sites, Sucuri has a free plugin that has some really helpful features in regards to detecting malware. It includes WordPress hardening (putting solid security measures in place), blacklist monitoring (avoiding email delivery pitfalls), security notification, last login notification panel, and automatic site recovery. 

Certain malware attacks can be recognized almost immediately. A few telltale signs that your device (computer) has a virus is if you experience unusually slow performance, frequent crashes or errors, unexpected pop-up windows, a lack of storage space, mass or hijacked emails, high network activity, and changes to your homepage and passwords. 

Look for these signs on your website as well. As previously mentioned, hackers do not have limits. They will hack your computer and your website without a second thought. Your website might have malware if you see that your login information was changed without your consent, website files were modified or deleted, the website freezes or crashes, you’ve noticed a change in your search engine results, or you’ve experienced a drop off in traffic. 

Website malware can also change the appearance and replace your website’s content with their own message. Hackers can even prevent visitors from visiting your site. They can also hide in ads, which is known as malvertising. Malvertsing prompts users to click on an ad, which would automatically infects the visitor when they visit the site. Your website could also be the victim of a malicious redirect, which redirects your visitors to another site, especially one that looks suspicious. Hackers can also grant other hackers access to your site! When this happens, they can expose sensitive customer data, make changes to your website,  and potentially sell your information. They can also place spam content on your site, which might include strange links or never before-seen comments show up on your website. 

If your site has malware, Google will notice and not allow visitors to go to the site. That’s another way you’ll know because your website following will decrease.

Unfortunately, suspicious activity or signs of malware could give off the impression that your site is untrustworthy. If you think that your site has malware, you should aim to get it figured out right away.

How can I avoid Malware?

For all of these reasons and more, it’s important to keep an eye out for potential website or device malware. Earlier we mentioned that we had an answer on how you can avoid such a catastrophe!

You can prevent malware on your website or device by removing outdated software from your system, watching out for malicious email links, accepting tech support from a company you trust (not an unknown source), logging out of your computer or website at the end of the day, and increasing the length and difficulty of your passwords. You should also make sure that you’re using a good anti-virus for your system and accessing secure websites.

One of the easiest and most reliable ways that you can avoid malware is by hosting your website through a company that will take care of your malware issues. Unfortunately, web hosting companies like that are few and far between. Luckily, we do! With every hosting package, we offer free malware removal. That means, if your website were to ever get attacked, then we would remove it, free of charge. But, you have to be hosting with us.

Think about it! Your website would be completely protected without the added stress of having to deal with it yourself. Considering that not many web hosts provide such a package, it would be a great investment. We are proud to be one of the few.

We hope you now realize that malware can be very damaging. If not fixed, it can destroy business operations, damage a business’s reputation, or welcome the stealing of confidential data. If your website gets attacked, it’s imperative that you have a plan. You also have the option to scan your website with the free Google malware checker and see how your website is doing. Above all, do what you can to protect your website and stay safe out there!

Cyber Security Month – 5 Tips for Better Cyber Security

October is Cyber Security Month, a notion that Hostirian holds very near to our hearts. Cyber Security is at the crux of what we believe in, and sentiments for stronger security are ones we strongly align with. Of course, there are many ways for one to go about ensuring they are secure, and it’s highly recommended that one takes the time to review just how safe they are and how safe they can be – in the meantime, we’ll start with 5 important tips for making sure you are on the right track to being safe and secure online:

    I’m sure we’ve all read this one time and time again – told it even more times, yet it can’t be said enough. Password security is pivotal for cyber security, and by far the easiest to manage, but often times the most vulnerable. Remember, your passwords aren’t just meant to be bits of memorabilia for fond memories or a relative’s birthday, they are your protection from letting random people access your data. Make sure you are using a relatively complex password, and if need be are storing it in a secure location in case it has slipped your mind (albeit, having a hint rather than the password outright is far more advisable).
    This one is as simple as it comes, and should be the easiest to keep track of. Often times, the software companies and teams are finding the vulnerable spots in their apps, and are constantly providing updates when they do to ensure they are putting out a safe product. Don’t overlook these updates!
    Another common bit of advice, but just because it’s common doesn’t mean it isn’t important. Being safe and cautious won’t do you as much good if you aren’t also making sure you have those slips and cracks covered, and that’s where your anti-malware and anti-virus software come in handy, but which ones should you be using? It’s not as straightforward of an answer as some might make it seem, as some software offer different versions that cover more or different malware than another, so really it comes down to what your needs are. I’ve found that this write-up offers a great breakdown on what each company offers and what their software scans for, and be the perfect starting point for you if you are shopping for anti-malware/anti-virus products.
    To make sure you are fully protected, even when using anti-malware/anti-virus software, we also heavily advise having two security software. Have one to run in the background, and another to have ready for any on-the-spot moments to make sure nothing might have been overlooked or managed to slip its way through. Just remember to disable the one you have running in the background, lest you risk them interfering with one-another.
    Footnote: Make sure you are also using a Firewall and keeping it updated as well. You can never be too safe.
    This one is going to mostly be related to your email usage, but it is by no means less important. Attachments and downloads are what most people recognize malware as, and they aren’t wrong for doing so. People are getting more creative in the malware they put-out, but email has still remained an effective means for them to do so. When you go to open an attachment, make sure you are aware of the source, the purpose of the attachment, and that you are expecting it. One of the biggest trends of late is spoofing – where someone will send an email under what appears to be another’s email address. This allows them to cover themselves up as, say, someone from your own contacts list, in order to gain your trust in what they are sending you. If you receive a suspicious email from someone you know, check with them to make sure they really did send it before opening.
    Last, but certainly not least, back. up. your. stuff. Humans are infallible, and sometimes mistakes happen. Maybe it was on your end, maybe it was on the company behind your anti-malware, maybe it was neither…either way you should always be prepared and be ready to get all of your data back up (pun absolutely intended) in case something does end up happening. I’ve said it once here, I’ll say it again: you cannot be too safe. Even if it only happens once, even if it never happens, the investment in making sure all your data is secure for you is definitely greater than the risk of losing it all.

-Trevor Newman