How to strengthen your website’s malware protection
Websites are just as vulnerable to malware as PCs are. Cybercriminals use this to their advantage by infecting websites with malicious software, which then spreads over the whole site. What usually happens is that harmful scripts are integrated into the original code of the website and aren’t immediately noticeable to the user. The website seems to work as requested, but in reality it is actually functioning as an instrument for hackers with the help of cross-site scripting (XSS).
How can malware protection best practices keep a website safe? And what measures help if the website has already been infected with malware?
What are some malware protection best practices?
To minimize the risk of your web project being infected with malware, there are several useful tools and codes of conduct you can follow. Hackers most often gain access to web projects because of insecure passwords, infected work PCs, out-of-date applications or an overcrowded, confusing disk space. If you want complete protection against malware, you should do the following:
Passwords play an important role in your web project. By using a strong password, you make it more difficult for criminals to access your website. For optimal malware protection, you should set up and use two-factor authentication when logging into the backend, for example.
Secure data transmission
When it comes to malware protection, it is essential that any kind of data transfer is encrypted. It doesn’t matter whether you want to transfer data between browser and website or files to the disk space. The protocol you need for this is TLS or SSL, which has been a mandatory protocol for all websites requesting personal information since 2018. If your web project is connected to a valid SSL certificate, browsers can communicate with the pages of your web application via HTTPS. It is also possible to establish secure connections to the website based on SFTP. This makes it difficult for criminals to access all important transmission channels.
Want to set up secure data transmission for your web project? With an SSL certificate from IONOS, you can encrypt website communication and send positive signals to search engines and visitors.
Organize disk space
Outdated files and applications whose security standards have expired or contain known vulnerabilities make it easy for malware to attack and is one of the most common ways that such attacks occur. This is why it’s extremely important to keep your disk space tidy. This is the only way to keep track of whether you may need to replace or completely remove certain documents and software.
When hosting a web project, it is often not that easy or fun to keep all the applications you use up to date. If you are satisfied with the current version of the operating system you’re using, there is no need to upgrade it. Often with content management systems, there are good reasons for reverting to an older version. It could be because you are working with certain extensions or because migration to a newer version involves too much effort.
Still, it is important that you keep the validity of your applications (also programming languages, frameworks, etc.) in mind. When a version is outdated and no longer receiving any security support, it makes sense to update the software so your web project doesn’t fall victim to security vulnerabilities. Such updates are essential for good malware protection.
Even with the best hosting and malware protection, you can’t completely rule out the possibility of malicious software getting onto the web server. This is why you should take advantage of professional security solutions and frequently scan your devices as well as your website for malware.
If you host your web project with IONOS, you can scan up to 500 subpages for malware every day with Site Scan + Repair. You can also use the tool to check WordPress for malware, automatically remove malware, and fix vulnerabilities in WordPress, Drupal and Joomla.
Want to protect all your devices against malware, ransomware and other viruses to ensure you can safely work on your web project? With MyDefender from IONOS, you can secure one of your devices or all of your devices against malware and data theft.
Backing up your web project does not provide malware protection, but it can save you time and effort in case you have to restore the website after it has been infected. Storing these backups separately doesn’t take much effort and ensures you’re on the safe side.
How to delete malware from an infected website
As soon as you notice that your website is infected you should remove the malware as quickly as possible. It is your duty as an operator to act quickly if you find yourself in such a situation. However, if you get rid of the malware but don’t find out how it infected your system, it won’t be long until your website is under siege again. It’s best to play it safe and hire experts to properly clean up your website.
If you have detected an infection on your website despite having fully working malware protection, you should do the following:
- Disable your website to limit the damage until the problem is fixed. Use bridging solutions like WordPress Maintenance Mode to inform your visitors about the temporary unavailability.
- Contact your hosting provider and coordinate with them on how to proceed.
- Check all user accounts for inconsistencies (for example, new accounts that you know you didn’t create yourself) and change all passwords for users and administrators.
- Try to determine all the sources of damage to work out how much harm has been caused.
- Get rid of all spam, malware and malicious code on your website using appropriate tools.
- Use any backups you’ve created to restore lost files or retrieve an undamaged version of your web project.
- Update all installed software packages or reinstall the important programs you use.
- After the cleanup, change all passwords again.
There are many different kinds of malware. In our article “Protection against Ransomware, Spyware, and Scareware,” we reveal the best tips for malware protection against scareware, ransomware and spyware.