Website Malware – The biggest threat we face on the Internet today

Malware (malicious software) is software made with mostly ill-minded intention to infiltrate another computer system, gain control of the system without the consent of the owner and commit further hostile activities.

For example large portion of the spam email circulating in the world today and ending in your inbox every day comes from computers overrun with malware.

Why people create malware?

In the early days it was the expression of hackers knowledge and was done mainly for glory and recognition.

But today malware is much more sinister. It is backed up by an industry which some estimate at $2 billion a year. It is all about making money.

Read some of these spam emails and you will see often a product is being offered. There are new users Internet which will fall for these offers (often scams) creating huge profit in the process.

Website Malware

A newer form of malware is what can be found attacking websites today. In the 'old' days malware was mostly in the form of computer viruses. In today's age of globalization, malware starts to target websites and mobile devices.

I had to deal with malware a handful of times on my site alone. You can read about these not so pleasant experiences here:

  1. Check your WordPress site for viruses and malware
  2. How to remove the pesky JS injection virus from your WordPress blog
  3. You Don't Mess With Other Peoples Websites!
  4. JavaScript Injection Virus Removal How To

Website malware is often designed to steal the control of the website in order to publish malicious content, in the form of the direct product offers or links to these sites in order to boost their search engine rankings.

Detecting Malware on Websites

Seeing the immediate and huge threat of website malware, Google has developed algorithms to try and detect malicious websites and exclude them from their index.

You can access the Google malware report for your site using the form below. Read the report carefully.

Anti-malware diagnostic tool

Malware in search engine ranking wars

Having malware on the site is enough to get automatically blacklisted on Google (also in Firefox and Chrome browsers which use the same tool to block visits to malicious websites). Unfortunately this created another problem - malware has also become a tool in search engine rankings wars.

And often small business owners would find themselves a target of a malware script without a slightest clue of what's going on just to lose search engine traffic the next day.

Google Webmaster Tools now offer malware information for website owners but a lot of controversy remains.

Uncertainty

I run report of the Google malware tool today for their very own domain google.com. Surprisingly:

Report says that on google.com pages the following was found:

Malicious software includes 45 exploit(s), 37 trojan(s), 11 adware(s). Successful infection resulted in an average of 4 new process(es) on the target machine.

Is this a mistake? Can this be perhaps actually pages from search results (why?)

Other biggies like Msn.com, Ebay.com and Yahoo.com seems to be susceptible to malware problems too:

Is the tool wrong or we are looking at some major events happening soon?

The one tool that website owners are supposed to trust returns very worrying results for some of the most authoritative websites in the world.

This only creates confusion and the situation seems to favor creators of malware the most.

How serious the situation is?

Extremely serious. Millions of  sites around the world are probably already affected without the owners of these websites ever suspecting anything.

And I am worried that we haven't seen everything yet. It looks like we are awaiting the explosion of a ticking bomb we are blind to see.

Conclusion

In this case I think the society is not educated enough about how big this threat is.

If you value your site or online business it is time to inform your self and learn how to fight this menace. Spread the word about it. Start doing something about it.


More like this:


Posted in: Debate
TAGS:, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

6 Comments

  1. james
    Jun 9th, 2012

    That's incredible that the larger websites have that many infections.

    I've noticed people getting dinged more often as well. Quite often actually.

    My guess is it is really an epidemic and it's not the virus companies attempting to profit.

  2. Oct 14th, 2010

    Thanks for the info! I'd like to know more on what websites can do to protect themselves. If google and yahoo are having these problems too, is anyone immune? How can a small company with not much resources stay protected?

  3. Oct 8th, 2010

    Fantastic article. Having dealt with this issue many times for my main site as well as my secondary sites, not only is it a serious problem, but also consider all the time and hidden costs of constantly checking your code to make sure it doesn't get "infected".

    I can confirm that if your site gets reported as an "attack site" you WILL lose your rankings in Google. But on the same token, use your Google Webmaster account to contact Google that you have since fixed the problem, and your rankings should return within a few days of cleaning up the impacted sites.

    I've also seen a decline for my own sites once I moved to bigger and well known hosting companies - they are aware of the problems and have systems in place to check and block those types of attacks.

    No one is perfect, but it's good to know that some hosting companies are taking this very seriously.

  4. Oct 8th, 2010

    Vlad,

    Thanks for posting this. First, I can direct my Mother toward it to understand what Malware is and what is does:) Secondly for providing the quick Malware check form. I use Google Webmaster Tools and do check on a regular basis, but like you, I've also had my share of "fun" with having my sites hacked.

    I often think of how we (society as a whole) have become so dependent on the Internet and the increasingly small pool of sites and software that run on it and it makes me nervous. Of course, if I were to be a true doomsday-er I would suggest that none of this would matter if a large enough Solar Flare washed over our electrical grid;)

    • Oct 13th, 2010

      You are welcome Adam

  5. Oct 8th, 2010

    hello,

    thanks for the tips, finally i realize that intenet are jungle even for giant like Google, your tips is to find out our web is clean for malware or not, which is greats tips, but what if i want know my site are well protected or not what can you suggest for me ? or maybe i dont read you post previous post about my question, just post it

    thanks

  • ManageWP