Identifying & Preventing Website Malware
Malware, short for malicious software, is designed with the intent to harm and steal sensitive information from websites or computers. Malware can hold sites for ransom, or even take control of the website itself. In most cases of malware attacks, victims do not realise they’ve been attacked until it’s too late.
More than one million brand-new malware threats are released daily, so being proactive about website security is essential for website owners. You can identify the signs of malware and check your site manually protecting and automatically removing malware with a website malware scanner.
Signs of malware may not be instantly apparent to you or your visitors. Some common symptoms of website malware are:
- Your account login information changing without your consent
- Your website files being modified or deleted without your knowledge
- Your website freezing or crashing
- You experience a noticeable change to your search engine results, including being blacklisted or receiving harmful content warnings
- You experience a dramatic drop or increase in site traffic
If you notice any of these common signs, you can follow these next steps to confirm your suspicions.
Use a URL Scanner Tool
A useful tool to identify website malware is a URL scanner. Many sites will scan any URL for free, such as VirusTotal. VirusTotal uses more than sixty antivirus scanners and URL/domain blacklisting services which check if your URL has been flagged for malware.
Monitor for Changes
Keeping regular backups of your website is a best practice for all website owners. Backing up your site offers a number of benefits, including having a clean copy to restore your website in the event of a cyberattack. Knowing what the clean, regular code on your website looks like will also help you identify potential signs of malware.
If you become victim to website malware and you don’t have a clean backup available, it’s ok; all may not be lost. If you know your website or content management system’s (CMS’s) code, you can analyse it for any suspicious content and check your database, files, and source code for signs of malware. Here is a list of common syntax used by cybercriminals. If you are not confident in digging into your website, don’t worry – there are also some tools which can automatically scan and remove malware.
Automatic website scanning can save you time and may reduce the negative impact of malware on your site and its visitors. Malware scanners are designed to automatically scan for commonly known malware types including backdoor files, shell scripts and spam. The automatic website malware scanner will alert the website owner immediately if it identifies malware and often provides some solutions on how to remove it.
Please note that preventative measures against malware are only as good as their ability to follow new malware types and trends. A total malware scanner should be backed by a complete database that logs the most current and persistent malware threats, offering the most up-to-date protection achievable.
As cybercrime and malware continue to develop, being proactive about your website’s security is your greatest defence. By learning the different ways to look for malware, your website is one step closer to being secure.
All WordPress websites developed/maintained by ClearPath Information Systems are set up to scan with the Wordfence plugin automatically.