Malware 101: Part 2
Fighting off malware can be a huge headache for IT departments. They have to be vigilant in preventing and hunting down potential threats. Many of the tools commonly used to combat it are not created to get completely get rid of every single threat that’s out there. For example, anti-virus software may not be capable to detect worms or spyware. For business owners, even though computers may be protected by anti-virus software, those measures will not cover your business’ website. And even if a major, credible web hosting service hosts your site, it may or may not offer vulnerability or anti-malware scanning to ensure that your web visitors don’t get infected. And though many of them provide anti-virus protection, they likely don’t protect against more sophisticated malware attacks. Be sure to find out for certain the type of security your hosting service offers to make sure you have the best protection available.
Top areas of vulnerabilities
Because Google indexes millions and millions of gigabytes of information on websites, its Google Safe Browsing feature produces an updated list of suspected phishing and malware pages. Sites that have malware can be blacklisted by Google or other watchdog sites. If your site is blacklisted, it is flagged such that when users try to visit your site through search results, a Google warning page instructs users to proceed at their own risk. There may be additional warnings pushed to users, but all serve as a red flag warning of potential danger.
According to Symantec, more than 40 percent of websites flagged by tools like Google Safe Browsing are eventually removed from the blacklist, getting taken off takes an average of 13 days. A quarter of blacklisted sites are never removed.
For web-based businesses this is bad news. If customers try to visit your site and warning pages pop up, then your site is automatically viewed as unsafe and chances are they will leave your site and quite possibly go to explore what your competition has to offer. And because it can take average of 13 days to be removed from the blacklist, you’re looking at potentially losing two full weeks of potential sales.
Moreover, this can also have a negative impact on your business’ reputation. Visitors could very well warn friends about problems with your site that can cause security issues. And with widespread use of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn word can easily spread uncontrollably. Consumers are not likely to investigate the issue with your site or whether there is a real danger, and chances are they won’t come back and visit your site again anytime soon.
Additionally, mobile devices can be targets for malware as well. Mobile applications are a fast-growing target malware attacks and social networks can create strong malware transmission channels where users unknowingly share and spread links to malware-infected websites. Users are much more familiar with email threats and are likely to avoid them, but they are much less familiar with the kinds of threats transmitted through social networks. Social networks are fast becoming the intelligent and personalized cyber attacks. And cloud computing, even with an in-depth security strategy, can make preventing website malware attacks difficult to prevent.