The internet has become the ultimate source of information and a massive digital playground for modern society. We can answer any questions we have by submitting it to a search engine and perusing the results. The most common use of these search engines is to identify and access other websites that provide resources and information the user is seeking. Websites like Amazon, YouTube, Wikipedia, Twitter, etc., have become extremely common domains the average person visits.
While there are alternatives to most websites, using particular sites is a major part of internet access. In 2021, research determined that 31% of Americans went online almost constantly. As a result, websites have become one of the most important resources for modern Americans.
Unfortunately, websites are vulnerable to the countless hazards associated with online activity, which makes using them somewhat tricky. Most major websites are safe and have firewalls and other defensive tools to ward off attacks. Despite these countermeasures, malware is a constant threat that can affect any website when its protections are below par.
Malware is one of the most nefarious forms harmful software can take, and cybercriminals constantly use it. Determining whether malware is present on a website or in a file can be difficult without the right tools or knowing the signs. Fortunately, there are ways to scan your website for malware before it harms you or your consumers.
What is Malware?
The term “malware” is thrown around with little concern about potential nuances that might impact its meaning. As a result, some people are a little confused about what malware is. Malware is a portmanteau of “malicious software” that refers to software designed to disrupt, compromise, or otherwise infect a computer, server, client, or network.
Malware is one of the most comprehensive forms of cyber-attack software that accounts for multiple files we are advised to avoid. Therefore, the broad use of the term is not inherently wrong since most cyber-attack tools include malware as the medium for their attacks.
The most common types of malware include:
- Viruses: A program that, once executed, replicates itself by modifying the other programs on a device. Viruses render the computer inoperable since the code has been overwritten with the viral code.
- Worms: A program planted in a network that replicates itself on the devices patched into that network.
- Trojans: A program that disguises itself as one type of program but executes a malware attack once activated.
- Ransomware: A program that hijacks the owner’s personal information and prevents them from accessing it. The cybercriminal offers to return access if the victim pays a ransom.
- Spyware: A program that infiltrates the device or network and embeds itself to provide the cybercriminal with records of your activity.
- Adware: A program that provides platforms on your devices for aggressive advertisements to be displayed whenever the internet is accessed.
- Rogue Software: A program that misleads users to believe malware is on their device and directs them to a malware removal tool. In reality, the removal tool contains malware that harms the device’s integrity.
- Wiper: A program that deletes the data stored on a device and eliminates all important documents and software.
- Keyloggers: A program that monitors the victim’s keystrokes that the cybercriminal can use to monitor their behavior and use to their advantage.
These different types of malware present cybercriminals with dangerous insight and access to the information stored in a device, network, or website. The danger is especially severe if the website handles the financial information of its users. Regardless of the type of website you manage, it is your responsibility to ensure no malware endangers your customers or yourself. This means you will need to find tools that will allow you to scan your website for potential malware, so it does not affect you.
#1: Google Malware Checker
Perhaps the most widely available tool for checking a site for malware is Google’s Malware Checker tool. The Google Malware Checker is a readily available resource in Google’s settings under its Transparency Report section. Unfortunately, tracking down this resource can be difficult since it is buried in Google’s settings and cannot be accessed by typing it into Google’s search bar.
To access the Google Malware Checker, follow this link, and you should arrive at the page instantly: https://transparencyreport.google.com/safe-browsing/search. Once you have access to Google’s Malware Checker, using it is extremely simple.
Upon accessing the link, you will be greeted by a page with the words “Safe Browsing site status” in large font with a brief summary below. Beneath that summary is a line that says “Search by URL,” where you can enter text. If you copy and paste your website’s URL into that bar, Google will scan the URL for potentially harmful software. If the website is clean, you will be met with a “No unsafe content found” banner beside a green check mark. You will also be given the date of the last update to that URL.
Unfortunately, the Google Malware Checker has a significant handicap that limits its use for assessing the safety of a website. Particularly large websites or websites with significant customer communication tools are often too intense for Google’s tool to evaluate completely. The tool can be sufficient for websites with minimal user-based content, but it might be best to use a more advanced tool if your website has a lot of content.
While the Google Malware Checker is good for basic websites, other resources are designed for more intense websites requiring deep-level scanning. One of the more popular heavy-duty malware checkers is SUCURi, a malware checker owned by the domain hosting service GoDaddy Inc. SUCURi is an independent tool that does not require a prior association with GoDaddy or its subsidiaries.
However, SUCURi might lock certain premium services behind the subscription service. Accessing SUCURi is extremely easy since you only need to look it up in a search engine and follow the link to SUCURi’s homepage. Once there, you will find a text bar where you can enter a URL and click “Scan Website.”
After you confirm the request, SUCURi will check for malware on the requested URL via a scan and provide a risk rating. The risk levels range from:
- Low Security
In addition to this threat level and malware scan, SUCURi checks to see if the website has been blacklisted anywhere and whether there is a firewall or monitoring service. It will also identify other details you already know if you own the website. Nevertheless, the scan by SUCURi should let you know if any malware is hiding on your site.
#3: Manual Check
When malware or any other issue affects a website, it causes issues for the people accessing it, and those issues translate into situations you must correct. Malware issues that affect your website’s users are generally reported through multiple sources on the website or through associated social media platforms.
Ultimately, the issues are reported to the one overseeing the website, often in the small hours of the night. As much as we might prefer to delegate the correction of these issues to someone else, malware often mandates an immediate response from the most capable source. You might have to check your website for malware or other harmful codes causing the issue.
Manually checking your website for malware requires access to the website’s command terminal (a program where you can access the code powering the website). You can enter commands that alter the code or verify that the codes are intact through the command terminal. Determining whether malware is hidden in your website’s code means verifying any changes recently made to the website’s core programming. Recent changes to the website’s code you do not recognize could indicate that someone hacked your command terminal and added malicious code to the website.
When malicious code is added to the core programming of a website, it endangers everyone who accesses the domain. Certain malicious coding could log private information that the website’s users must protect for their safety and transmit those logs to the cybercriminal who modified the codes. Changes made within 7 to 30 days might be the most suspicious since most cybercriminals will make these changes as soon as they can access the information they want. Unfortunately, identifying code changes might not be feasible if you are not well-versed in coding languages and programming procedures.
It is common for certain small businesses to employ freelance website developers to create their websites. This means that some websites are compromised, and the people with access to the command terminal cannot correct the changes themselves. Fortunately, most companies employ a branch of experts to handle maintenance on their behalf.
#4: Cybersecurity Staff
Malware hidden in a website can be a huge issue since some programs are more advanced than others and can do more damage to the website. Identifying and purging malware is an extremely difficult task requiring advanced knowledge of security protocols and coding to counteract it. Having 1 or 2 people with this knowledge is insufficient if you want your website to be free of malware and other threats.
Cybersecurity requires a team of qualified specialists with different qualifications and skill sets that give them the ability to address every possible threat. A full complement of cybersecurity specialists ensures the most comprehensive protection, including malware threats.
When malware is embedded in a website, identifying the malicious code is critical to preserving the site’s integrity. Most cybersecurity experts can assess the code powering a website and identify which lines are part of the original programming and which lines are malicious code added to benefit cybercriminals. A full cybersecurity team will help protect your website and the content therein. This is because the team will run regular tests to ensure the website’s database is intact and that there are no immediate vulnerabilities.
The issue is that the programs and tools that enable cybercriminals to embed themselves in other websites are constantly evolving. This means a cybersecurity team must evolve and update with the times and adjust its protocols to account for the new tactics cybercriminals employ. Hiding malware in a website’s code is a relatively straightforward process with little potential for variation.
While a cybersecurity team can check for malware on an existing website, they can also perform tests to determine the vulnerability of the website’s command terminal. A vulnerable command terminal can be accessed by cybercriminals and modified to suit their needs. A cybersecurity team can patch the terminal by testing the potential vulnerabilities of the website’s command terminal to protect it from future incursions.
Malware remains one of the largest threats in information technology since it enables the systematic destruction of the infected network or device. While some malware is more damaging than others, they all present cybercriminals with access to sensitive information that they have no right to access. Identifying malware on a website can be challenging if you do not have access to the proper tools or resources.
Fortunately, those tools are available through multiple sources and are viable resources for detecting malware. Some tools are more beneficial than others since most publicly available tools are not designed for intense, deep-level website scans. A cybersecurity team is essential for the most effective protection since they can dedicate more time, resources, and tactics to identifying and purging malware.
Cybersecurity teams are costly resources that require you to finance their equipment, workspace, and work hours. This is not always viable for an in-house cybersecurity team since not every company can afford all those costs. We at U.S. Cybersecurity realize that no company should have to forgo digital protection due to financial constraints, which is why we offer cybersecurity services without requiring our clients to finance every detail.
We offer a comprehensive list of services designed to protect your website and company so you can conduct your business without fear. If you need cybersecurity services, please be sure to visit our website today, and we will be standing by and ready to assist you.