Cybercriminals and hackers are always looking for poorly protected websites, both small and large legitimate websites, to infect with malware. You will never know and your website might be infected with malicious content.
Malware, in the form of malicious software or content, is designed to harm a website and its visitors. It is a common misconception that pharmaceutical sites and the sites that are bombarded with pop-up ads are the only types of websites that are infected with malware. Though these types of websites are preferred targets of cybercriminals and hackers, even the typical, everyday e-commerce or news sites are very well prone to a malware attack.
There are several ways by which a website can be infected with malware. It can be through phishing, backdoors, manipulation of source code, disguised plug-in, and drive-by downloads.
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Why do cybercriminals infect website?
There can be plenty of reasons for cybercriminals to find your website intimidating enough to attack your website with malware.
The most common ones are as follows:
- serving malware such as Trojans and spyware
- deface and vandalize WebPages
- spam campaigns
- conducting Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks
What are the symptoms of a Malware infected website?
- Defacing/Vandalism on your website
- Google warnings
- Disabling of your website by the hosting provider
- Being blacklisted by the web browsers
- The loading speed of your website slowed down drastically
- Emails are being sent from your website on its own
- Visitors to your website are being redirected to illegitimate/questionable/inappropriate websites
- Creation of suspicious files, folders, and code on your website
These are some of the obvious and easily noticeable signs that your website has been infected with malware. However, there are some sophisticated infections, like the creation of a backdoor file to access a website that does not display easily visible symptoms. The perpetrators wish to remain undetected for as long as possible so that they can harm the affected website in the most nefarious ways.
How to Find the Malware on your Website?
Malware is usually found inside the website’s HTML files, PHP files, and databases. If it seems to you that they have tampered, there are ways by which you can ensure whether or not your website is actually infected of malware. The most common and popular tool is Google’s Safe Browsing Site Status Diagnostic Tool. This tool is empowered with Google’s Safe Browsing technology which can help you in examining malicious content on any URL of your website.
No matter what kind or size of the website it is, be it big legitimate websites or small business websites, gaming websites, or business websites, all are exposed to a malware attack. Google maintains a database of all those compromised websites.
Another most reliable way to spot malware on the website is a website scanner tool. These scanners are specially designed to automatically scan website’s files and folders for infected scripts, algorithms, backdoor files, and code. If any malware is found at any stage or places, the scanner will alert you immediately.
The malware can also be identified manually by reviewing the source code of the website for any questionable scripts. A script attribute in the code denotes the URL of an external script file. Your website might be infected by a malware if there an unrecognizable site or file after <script src=> in your code.
Apart from the script attribute, you must also pay attention to the iframe attribute. This specific attribute is used to embed a document’s URL in the line of code. If you notice any unauthorized change in URL in the line of code <iframe src=”URL”>, there is a chance that it is a malicious link.
How to Remove Malware from your Website?
Now that you know how to identify and find the malware on your website, it’s time to remove it and clean the website. The first and basic step is to change all the passwords associated with the website in accordance with strong password policy.
If you have a developer or tester on your team, you can ask them to thoroughly check the code for any malware on the website. Usually, the cybercriminals attack .php files, .htaccess files, and media files and insert malicious links in base64 encoded format.
The whole website needs to be downloaded manually and each file and line of code must be searched for any unauthorized inserted code. Once the suspicious code is found, the code must be rectified and the malware must be eliminated manually. Then only the clean website must be uploaded back on the server.
Identifying, finding, and removing the malware from an infected website is a time-consuming task. It is recommended to use an automated tool that keeps performing the regular checks on the website for any malicious link or content. Just removing the malware from a website isn’t enough to protect the website. You must utilize all the support and advice given by the experts in the field who constantly monitor and protect the website.
An infected website impacts reputation, trust, visitors, customers, and ultimately the business. It is important to protect the website to maintain the reputation of your website and your brand.