There is a common misconception among Internet users about what it means for a website to be hacked. Thus, many believe that a particular page must be vandalized or completely taken down if and when it is compromised. Yet this is not the way that the majority of hacking takes place. In fact, most hackers would rather have their illegitimate activity stay under the radar. In this manner, their malicious software can fulfil its intended purpose and continue to spread to other hosts.
Disguised plugins, phishing, malicious redirection, drive-by downloads (and installations), or source-code manipulation are just some of the most prevailing techniques by which malware-infected templates will find their way into your web page. Perhaps the most disconcerting aspect of this process is the fact that the people who interact with your website will likely think you’re trying to hack them, instead of assuming you are also a victim. For businesses and private individuals alike, this can mean irreparable damage to their image.
Step 1: Avoid malicious software
You are not alone. Millions of people either share your concern about malware or have already had to deal with malware-infected templates themselves. As such, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you don’t expose yourself to such contagions. All malware works on the principle of exploiting weaknesses. Your goal is to make it impossible for hackers to find vulnerabilities in your web page or abuse these vulnerabilities for personal interest.
If you’re working with a CMS like WordPress, you’re in luck. Plugins such as WordFence, All-In-One WP Security, Sucuri, iThemes, and the more recent MalCare are some of the most popular and effective ways to ensure your web page stays clean of malware-ridden templates. In addition to this, you should only download templates and software from trusted sources (not double, but triple-check them), and pay very close attention to what is installed on your PC.
Another great way to ensure that you don’t expose yourself to potentially infected templates is to secure your Internet connection with a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This security measure is popular among both private and corporate users, so there’s a great deal of options waiting for you. You can find comprehensive product reviews on VPNpro and these will help you select the service that best suits your preferences.
Step 2: Detect potential infections
With over 300 million new variants of malware created every year, infections can sometimes happen despite our best efforts. In 2018, it was estimated that the total amount of malicious software now rests at approximately 1.7 billion. Due to user negligence, software instability, or a combination of both, there is a chance that you have already been targeted by a malware-infected template. Do not despair though, because there are still ways to deal with such contaminations. The first thing you have to do, however, is to establish whether you were actually targeted.
Quttera, Sucuri, Google Malware Checker, and Metascan are some of the best online tools you can use to find out whether you’re the victim of malware. Unlike WordPress plugins, these will work with any platform you use.
The problem is that no malware checker will be right 100% of the time, especially at the rate at which these malignant programs are being developed. For this reason, it is also necessary to maintain a high level of security on the terminals you use in order to access the website itself, as well as on the connections between the former and the latter.
Step 3: Things to stay away from
Without a doubt, you need to stay away from free applications and services, regardless of what they are. Do not mistake these for open software, as they are most likely fake free. This means that there will always be a trade-off that takes place somewhere in-between your interaction with them. Some just want your data, while others will use this opportunity to install malvertisements and malware on your devices and web pages. A good rule of thumb to follow is that if the product is free, you are most likely the product.
Maintaining a pro-active mindset will always work to your advantage when it comes to the security of your webpage. As such, make sure to always update the software you’re using, any plugins that you’ve acquired for it, as well as your personal anti-virus and firewall. Some security plugins make it possible to save a back-up website in case of a major infection. If your business involves e-commerce or if your clients use your website for important activities, this back-up will save you tremendous amounts of money and effort.
Relying on your host to help you solve security issues will not get you very far. However, if you follow the advice mentioned above, you’ll be able to protect your webpage from being targeted by malware-infected templates, as well as easily identify existing contaminations. It’s almost never too late.
No service will be able to 100% guarantee the safety of your website, which is why it is necessary for you to become aware of the security measures you can adopt in order to prevent such infections from happening in the first place. These steps involve efficient and up-to-date security plugins, protecting your Internet traffic with a VPN, and maintaining risk-averse behaviour while browsing the web.
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