When most people think of a website being hacked, they think of it being defaced by some fanatical political or religious group, or they think of the big sites being hacked or compromised and sensitive information stolen.
Hacked website are often defaced and files damaged or removed.
Did you know that websites get infected with Malware also just like personal computers?
This is potentially far more damaging to your business and online presence than getting hacked.
Most website malware infection goes undetected for some time and its during this time that the most damage is done.
If your website has a commercial value such as processing financial transaction or storing sensitive information, then the malware might be monitoring your visitors and stealing sensitive information.
In most cases the real target is not the website itself but the use of the website to target visitors and infect their computers.
Assuming the infection does not corrupt or alter you website in anyway, this type of infection can be more devastating and long lasting affects than having it hacked and destroyed.
Being Hacked vs. Undetected Malware infection
Loss of data / information
Hacked – The potential loss of data / information will depend on how good your backups are and how frequently the site is updated. Without good backups this can be devastating to the business.
Malware – Depending on the intent of the malware it might not damage your files, or it might be even worse than a hacking attack that destroys all your files. If it slowly attacks the integrity of the data over time to the point where even your backups are corrupted then there may be no recovery.
Damage to Online Reputation
Hacked – Getting hacked is embarrassing but it can also have a negative impact on your trust and credibility.
Malware – Its one thing to be seen as having your site hacked and another thing to have caused a visitors computer to be infected with malware. In terms of damaging your reputation, trust and credibility it does not get much worse than this.
Loss of Sales
Hacked – If your site actively generates sales or leads for your business then any web site downtime can have an impact on the bottom line.
Malware – If the malware is actively monitoring and listening to your websites activity then there is the possibility that its not just stealing information but could also be stealing your website visitors redirecting them to other sites including phishing (fake) websites.
Loss of Ranking
Hacked – If you act fast you can minimize the possibility of Google and other search engines dropping you from their rankings.
Malware – Loss of your valuable search engines ranking and removal from their indexes is bad enough, but it can get much worse than this. Sites with malware are also added to special block lists of dangerous sites. There are dozens of these block lists and each has their own process to request removal. Finding all the block lists your site has been added to and getting them removed is a painful and time-consuming process.
Cost to rebuild
Hacked – The cost of fixing a hacked site will depend to a large extent on the nature of the damage (files corrupted) and the availably of backups. The cost grows exponentially when data / information needs to be re-created.
Malware – The cost of fixing a malware infected site will also depend to a large extent on the nature of the damage (files corrupted) and the availably of backups. The cost grows exponentially when data / information needs to be re-created.
Hacked – At least when you can see that it’s physically hacked you can then immediately take steps to fix it and minimize the damage.
Malware – The potential damage to your business and online presence from an undetected malware infection is much greater than from having your website hacked.
You need to protect your website from both hacking and malware infection.
How vulnerable to hacking and malware infection is your website?
Find out by taking a quick 10 question risk assessment found here.