Your website is among hundreds of millions of websites worldwide, so you’re probably wondering why anyone would bother breaking into yours. Sure, you’ve invested time, money and effort to build your website, but there’s probably nothing there that is valuable enough to attract the attention of cybercriminals. Or so you might think…
A number of dangers await you on the Internet. If you’re not careful, they can cripple your website and your reputation. Here are a few of the most common attacks…
Attackers often use hacked websites to spread malware on your visitors’ computers. This is especially troublesome because you risk having your site flagged as malicious by search engines and blacklisting services. Your visitors are not going to be happy and your reputation could be damaged for quite some time. In addition, a hacked website can negatively impact your search engine rankings.
Cybercriminals have become very adept at stealing resources of others to make money for themselves. One of the most lucrative is cryptocurrency mining, which is a computationally intensive activity that puts the processing power of other peoples’ computers to work on behalf of the criminal. Cryptomining malware can be embedded in websites and is designed to download itself onto the computers of unsuspecting visitors. If you’re not vigilant, your website could be used to infect the computers of all your visitors.
Your hacked website can also be used to send spam email. Getting this stuff past spam filters is becoming increasingly difficult. Almost all spam filters rely on IP blacklists to block IPs known to send spam. That’s where your web server comes in. Not only does your server have all of the hardware and software spammers need, the reputation of your IP address is likely perfect. By sending spam from your web server, cybercriminals have a much better chance of getting their spam delivered. Eventually, spam filters will blacklist your IP address as well. While attackers simply move on to their next victim, the reputation of your IP address goes down the toilet.
Another tactic employed by attackers is to add redirects to your content. Visitors to your site don’t even have to click on a hyperlink to visit the spam site – the redirect will take them there automatically. In some cases, attackers will redirect all of your traffic to malicious sites.
In the case of defacements, attackers just want to get their message out. By hijacking your website, they are able reach your audience, at least until you figure out what they’ve done. Attacks of this nature often revolve around a political or social cause, or newbies just looking for “street cred” in the hacker community. Others simply enjoy sowing chaos and being a pain in the ass.
Your website represents something that matters to you, even if it’s not an e-commerce site. Cybercriminals have come to this realization too. There is a ransomeware attack that targets websites built on content management systems like WordPress, threatening to destroy them with file deletion unless a ransom is paid. While ransomware has enjoyed great success against computers, the threat against websites is relatively new and will likely accelerate because it is potentially very lucrative and the possibility of getting caught is virtually non-existent.
These and other harmful activities will never cease. Regardless of the size or type of your website, or where it is hosted, cybercriminals will find a way to destroy it, leverage it, or monetize it. And with nation-states getting into hacking in a big way, there’s no telling how much damage awaits us down the road.
Although knowledge and vigilance, particularly when surfing the web, can help you steer clear of the bad guys, having a technology partner looking out for these and other kinds of threats offers an added layer of protection. If an infection occurs anyway, having an expert on call to remediate the condition offers the ultimate in peace of mind.
Nathan Muller is the author of 29 technical books and over 3,000 articles that have appeared in 75 publications worldwide. He also writes articles, blogs and social media content for tech companies and their executives.