From Our Partners at SiteLock
- Cyberattacks can have especially devastating consequences for small and mid-sized businesses.
- Identifying the presence of malware and removing it immediately can help reduce the impact of a cyberattack.
- Investing in a website malware scanner to automatically detect and remove malware can help businesses secure their sites in the long term.
Cyberattacks are on the rise in 2020, and small and mid-sized businesses are not immune to this trend. In fact, small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) can be particularly vulnerable to malware attacks, because they often lack the resources and budget to invest in sophisticated cybersecurity solutions. This means that SMBs may be less likely to notice an attack when it occurs.
The average company takes 197 days to detect a security breach, and an additional 69 days to contain it. Containing a security breach quickly is crucial for reducing its impact on a company. For most small businesses, the financial cost of a security breach is $100,000 or more, and there are other costs as well, including a damaged reputation and loss of customers.
For these reasons, time is of the essence when it comes to recognizing and containing a security incident. It’s crucial for SMBs to be aware of the common signs of malware and to know what actions to take if you suspect your site is infected. Read on to learn about some of the major warning signs of malware and how to remove it as quickly as possible.
Common Warning Signs of Malware
Malware can take many different forms, but these are some of the most common signs that malware may be present on your business website.
Website defacements occur when hackers gain access to your website and tamper with the content, often replacing it with text and images of their choosing. Defacements act as a type of virtual graffiti, and they are some of the most obvious signs of malware. If you notice unusual changes in your website content, there’s a good chance that cybercriminals have infected your site with malware.
Unauthorized Changes to Your Account
Unauthorized changes to your hosting or website account information or log-in are another sign that malware may be present on your site. For example, you might notice that your password has been changed or your account information updated without your permission. If you notice any unexpected changes to your accounts, you should investigate them immediately and contact your hosting or website provider to help you secure your account.
Lost or Altered Website Files
If you find that some of your website files have gone missing or have been changed in some way, a security breach may be to blame. If hackers gain access to your website, they can easily invade your site’s files and alter their content or simply delete them. This can severely damage your website’s functionality, negatively impacting your business. If you notice any lost or altered website files, be sure to look into the situation further, as there’s a chance that malware has invaded your site.
Your Website Frequently Crashes or Freezes
Many types of malware impact the functionality of your website, which can have serious consequences for your business. You might notice that your web pages often freeze, or that your website frequently crashes. Since these problems impact the user experience, many of your site visitors will simply click away if they encounter these issues, and most probably won’t return. This can result in a loss of traffic, leads and ultimately revenue if the problem isn’t resolved quickly. Any problems with your website’s functionality should be examined, diagnosed and repaired as soon as possible.
Your Site Traffic Suddenly Drops
If you notice a sudden drop in your site traffic, be sure to investigate the drop right away. If you can’t uncover a reason for the drop, a security breach or malware might be behind it. Since malware can often impact the way your site functions, such as causing pages to take an unusually long time to load, visitors may become frustrated and navigate away from your site. Some types of malware can even take your site offline, or cause Google to blacklist your website so that visitors can’t access it, which can also result in a sudden loss of traffic.
You Receive a Notification From Your Hosting Company
If your hosting company detects the presence of malware on your site, they may send you a notification and request you to take action. It’s important to look into the situation and take action immediately, otherwise, you may be subject to consequences such as an account suspension.
How to Detect and Remove Malware
There are several different actions you can take to remove malware from your site, depending on how much tech experience you have.
If you don’t think of yourself as tech-savvy, your best option might be to hire a security expert to handle the malware removal process. You can also invest in a website malware scanner, which is a tool that monitors your site for malware on a daily basis and automatically removes any malware that’s detected.
On the other hand, if you have some tech expertise, you can manually remove the malware yourself.
To remove malicious code from your website, you can take the following steps:
1. Uncover the Source
The first step is to identify the source of the malware, which you can accomplish using a file manager, local file search or command line. Your hosting service likely includes a file manager, which you can use to modify website files. That said, this might not be your best option for carrying out file searches.
A better option is conducting a local file search, in which you download your website files onto a local computer. This makes it considerably simpler to search for infected files. If you have a shared hosting service, it’s unlikely you’ll have access to a command line, but if you do, it’s often the best way to locate infected files. That’s because you can use it to identify files that have been modified and search for specific file contents.
2. Screen for Malicious Codes
After locating files that may contain malware, you’ll want to review them to see if any malicious syntax is present. These are codes that cybercriminals often use when inserting malware into a site. Some of the code snippets to look out for are: eval, base64_decode, fromCharCode, gzinflate, shell_exec, globals and error_reporting(). These are just a few of the malicious codes out there, but they are very commonly seen in PHP injection attacks.
3. Remove the Infected Files
After you’ve located the infected files, you’ll need to remove them to get the malware off of your site. You can do this manually, but it’s best to use a website scanner to expedite the process and ensure you’ve removed all the corrupt files. One example of a website scanner is SiteLock’s automated malware removal solution, which scans your website pages daily for malware. With this solution, any malware detected is automatically removed from your site. This is done all without impacting the experience of your site visitors.
Securing Your Site for the Long Haul
Protecting your website from cyberthreats is crucial for businesses of all sizes. Recognizing the warning signs of malware and taking action immediately can help reduce the impact of a cyberattack on your business. For added protection, consider investing in a website malware scanner to monitor your site and automatically remove malware, which is a powerful solution for defending your site against cyberattacks.
At Network Solutions, we’re dedicated to helping you keep your website safe. To learn more about how cybersecurity tools can help protect your business against costly cyberattacks, contact us today by calling 1-866-743-4336.