What to do to keep viruses off the site. Internet security basics
To protect your website from viruses and hacks, periodically perform simple prophylaxis:
- Scan the website for viruses and the inclusion of harmful code. You can do that by making a full copy of the website, downloading it, and scanning with antivirus on your PC or by using a special service like virustotal.com. If you use CPanel, it’s possible to scan the files from the control panel(section “Advanced” – “Virus scan”).
- In a timely manner update your CMS and website plugins. Updates often contain security patches for existing vulnerabilities.
- Periodically change passwords to the website admin area and mailboxes.
- Regularly check the computer you use to work with the website for viruses.
- Keep an up-to-date backup of your website. Save logs of traffic and logs of FTP connections. You may need the logs to find the hacker and determine how the website was infected. In case your website gets infected with a virus, the program code is corrupted, or data is lost, you can promptly restore all the information from the backup.
How to Protect Your Computer from Viruses:
- Do not open doubtful links or websites and don’t install programs from unknown sources.
- Update your operating system on time, download, and install patches. Many viruses get into your computer through the Internet and local network, using vulnerabilities and holes in the operating system.
- Install antivirus and keep its database up to date.
- Install a firewall. A firewall is a special program that protects your computer from external attacks from local networks and the Internet.
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as total protection against viruses. New viruses appear before antivirus vendors know about them, so there is always the risk of catching a virus or Trojan, for which there is no antidote yet. However, following the above recommendations will minimize the risk.
How to Choose a Password
To protect your sensitive data from theft, we recommend that you pay extra attention to additional security measures, especially creating and using passwords. Here are the few basic security rules we recommend you to follow:
- Use different passwords for different services. Authentication in a variety of services should be completely independent.
- Periodically change the passwords. It will help you, especially in case your password gets stolen but not immediately used by cybercriminals.
- Don’t store passwords in programs in clear view. The biggest mistake is storing FTP passwords directly in programs, such as FTP clients. Passwords are stored in clear text in those programs. In the case of a trojan infection, such passwords are found automatically and are passed to cybercriminals in a fraction of a second.
- Create crypto-resistant passwords. Passwords should be at least 12 characters long, ideally 20, and must consist of a random combination of numbers, letters in different registers, and special characters. A password of up to 5 random characters can be cracked in just a few hours. A password that is even 7 characters long but contains only digits is cracked even faster.
To create strong passwords you can use different services (e.g. eset.com/afr/password-generator)
The Main Ways of Hacking the Website
- FTP access. It’s one of the most popular ways of hacking the website, along with using the vulnerabilities in CMS. FTP (or SSH) passwords can be stolen or brute-forced. There even are special trojans that were specially designed and configured to steal passwords for FTP.
- Vulnerabilities in the website code. Sooner or later any CMS reveals loopholes in the code, which can be used by hackers to attack the website.
What to Do If Your Website Has Been Hacked?
- Check your computer for viruses. FTP access passwords are usually stolen by trojans that have infected the computer or the computer of another employee who knows FTP access to the site.
- Change your FTP access to the site. FTP is the most common way to infect sites.
- Make a backup of the site, save weblogs of site traffic, and a log of FTP connections to the site. You may need the logs to find the hacker and determine how the site was infected.
- Proceed to search and remove the virus.
It is necessary to act in this order: first, check your computer and only then change the FTP access password.
Otherwise, if you change the password to the website, and the computer will still be infected with a virus, the new passwords will be stolen again.