Monday, February 3, 2014

Website Malware

If you have a website, please be vigilant about its security. 
I recently had the unfortunate experience of dealing with computer malware corruption on a website that I maintain.  I check my websites fairly regularly but was notified by a vendor that something was not right on one of them.  When I looked, I found text about Viagra, government loans and various other subjects overwriting the images and text on the site. 

I immediately contacted the technical person who deals with these kinds of things, and he verified that the site was indeed infected with malware.  I also happened to speak with a search engine optimization expert during the day who said that Google had already scanned the site and noted the issue.  The conversation alerted me to another problem – Google will list your site as infected and warn people to avoid it if the issue isn’t corrected quickly!  This will potentially divert business away from you to other non-infected sites.
My next step was to contact GoDaddy, which hosts the site.  They instructed me how to delete the current files and restore previous ones from the month prior to the infection.  I then changed my password and signed up for GoDaddy’s website monitoring service, which notifies me within 24 hours of any additional attempt to install malware on the site. 

If I had not quickly become aware of the issue, I would have had to retrieve a backup of the website.  Fortunately, I have a one, but if you don’t back up your site regularly, you should consider downloading a plugin that allows you to do a regular backup. 
I strongly recommend that you check your website’s hosting company to see if they offer a malware monitoring service.  Get signed up so you don’t end up spending a day trying to fix the issues.  In the short time that my site was infected, I had three people reach out to tell me about the problem.  But how many others saw the site and just left?  I think I caught it quickly enough for little damage to have occurred, but I’ll probably never know.  I’m definitely maintaining the monitoring service from now on.  Check your sites, and be sure you’re protected!


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