The extent of the damage a malware attack can have on your website typically depends on a number of variables, not the least of which is your response time. The longer it takes to detect and remove malware, the more expensive the recovery process becomes. Unfortunately, many types of malware are deliberately designed to keep themselves concealed for as long as possible. Eventually, however, the symptoms of a malware-infected website can become hard to miss.
Certain malware attacks will be detectable almost immediately. Even the most untrained eye can spot website defacements, where hackers mask existing site content with a message or image of their choosing. While defacements generally make up only a relatively small portion of malware attacks, even more inconspicuous malware might leave traces of its work that are detectable by website owners, visitors, or both.
Other obvious signals of a malware-infected website include unauthorized modifications to your account login information, missing or modified website files, pages that freeze or crash, or a significant decrease in site traffic. Additionally, when your hosting company detects malware, you may receive a notification, which could lead to an account suspension. Search engines could even “blacklist” your site if evidence of malware is completely conclusive.
Signs of an attack are never a good thing — particularly for small business owners. A malware attack can have lasting consequences. For example, if your website is suspended or blacklisted, it could erode customer trust, damage your reputation, and even lead to a decline in revenue, regardless of whether your website serves as a primary point of sale.
For those who don’t consider themselves particularly tech savvy and may not know how to get rid of malware from a website, outsourcing malware removal to a security expert (such as a cybersecurity provider) is likely your best bet. Once malware is removed, website owners should make it a best practice to use proactive cybersecurity to prevent re-infection. For instance, you can use a website malware scanner that monitors your website daily and automatically removes malware when it is detected.
For tech-savvy individuals, such as developers, manually removing malware themselves may be the best option. It’s important to note that removing the malware will take up more internal time and resources, so that should be taken into consideration.
If you do decide to extract malicious code yourself, here’s how:
Identify the source. First, you will need to identify the source of the malware. You can accomplish this through a file manager, local file search, or command line. Most web hosts offer file managers, though they’re generally optimized for basic file modification, rather than for specific content searches.
A local search — as its name suggests — involves downloading the contents of your live site to your local machine, making the search process a little simpler. Gaining access to a command line is rare in a shared hosting scenario. But if you have it, you can perform a far more nuanced search. With it, you can find files that have been recently modified as well as specific contents within files.
Look for the right clues. When you do find the files you believe may have been infected, look closely for common syntax used by attackers when injecting malware into a site.
Remove the malware. Once you’ve identified the corrupt files, remove them, and your site will be malware-free. While it’s possible to manually remove malware, we always recommend using a website scanner for speed and accuracy. The SiteLock SMART scanner, for example, automates malware detection and elimination. It uses a file transfer protocol scan to download, inspect, and clean website files. Then, it uploads those files back to the host server without disrupting the user experience.
Every website owner should know how to get rid of malware from their site, however defending against it is a continuous ongoing effort. While cyberthreats are vast and increasing in sophistication, you can help defend your site being proactive about cybersecurity. Contact SiteLock today and we can scan your website and provide you with detailed information regarding the health and security of it, as well as potential threats.