Website security has always been a bit of a murky affair – viruses, hackers, phishing and password attacks have been the bane of many webmasters’ existence for some time now, and caused millions of pounds to be stolen or lost through illicit behaviour.
Dealing with these issues is normally left to service providers or website hosting companies, and in some instances the internal digital team within a company.
But do these service partners always ensure the right protections are in place? Virus protection is one thing…dealing with a site hack is something entirely different.
Sadly, the number of sites hacked last year grew by over 30% as compared to the year before, and with more and more sites in existence that number is likely to continue to increase.
What happens when your site is hacked?
One of the most noticeable signs that your site has been hacked is when a visitor sees one of the ‘Phishing attack ahead’ or ‘This site contains malware’ warnings.
Google search results may also flag your site with a ‘this site may be hacked’ message on the results page – and it’s likely that once that happens they’ll drop your site off the result pages altogether.
Either way, your site will be closed down temporarily, which could mean loss of revenues and damage to your brand reputation. Worse than either of these, though, is the potential theft of confidential information about you, your business and your clients.
What can you do?
The good news is that if your website management company or internal department has registered your site with Google’s Search Console, you’ll receive an immediate alert that your site has been compromised.
And of course you may have a malware scanner in place that should flag any issues right away.
The first thing to do is get a better understanding of what form of hack or attack you’ve been exposed to. Google also has loads of documentation to help webmasters understand in more detail when their site has been hacked – this can be accessed via Search Console.
Then the process of fixing the problem/s begins – for this, a great starting point is Google’s clean up guide – Help for Hacked Sites. This 8-step program takes you through the steps of identifying the vulnerability to how to request a review so Google will remove the dreaded “this site has been compromised” message from its search results.
How can you do early detection?
The best form of cure is prevention. These are some simple tips you, your internal digital team or website hosting partner could, and should be taking to keep your site safe:
1. Visit your site often to ensure it’s not bringing up any flags before loading
2. Keep an eye on how Google lists your site in search results - are you seeing their warnings on your listing?
3. Ensure your site is registered with Search Console and that your alerts are switched on
4. Have malware scanners in place
5. Use a source code and a remote scanner regularly
6. Keep an eye on unusual activity – quite often a spike in traffic can indicate a potential hack
Realnet offers a site security monitoring and reporting service as part of our Digital Marketing package.
If you need help with your website security, please don't hesitate to contact us or call 01223 55080.
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