Here’s how it works: a bot goes to your site. Either you get a spam comment with a bunch of junk in it and you inadvertently click on a link in it, or worse, you get a bunch of spam traffic that you can see in your Google Analytics metrics, and because, let’s face it, we all want to know who’s sending us traffic, you see something like, “traffic2money.com” and go, “Oh, who’s that?” You click on it and BOOM. Malware on your computer. Additionally, spam referral traffic is one way that hackers poke around your site, looking for opportunities to break through.
There are two recommended strategies for handling this problem:
- Stop clicking on links in comments(and for heaven’s sake, install Askimet)and going to sites you don’t recognize in your analytics.
- Clean up your analytics so spam referral traffic stops showing up and so you can stop at least some of the hacker bot activity.
Step #3: Reevaluate Your Web Host
Many web hosts today have gotten very good at fending off malware and hackers. But many still are not prepared for the deluge of attacks that are coming at them every day. When you check your web host, find out what they’re doing to keep you safe. There are pros and cons to working with a larger hosting company. These bigger companies will be more likely to be targeted by hackers…but they’re also likely to be better-equipped to handle the attacks.
Step #4: Monitor Your Site
Another way that malware gets into your site is through a plugin that has a security hole in it. Hackers are constantly looking for ways to punch through so that they can drop insidious little files on your server, so you’ll want to have someone monitoring your site. My favorite company is WeWatchYourWebSite.com (note: that is not an affiliate link – I just really like them). They’ll monitor up to 100 sites for $39.95/year, and their service is impeccable. They’ve been instrumental to fixing our sites and getting things back up and running, and most of the time, they stay ahead of the web hosting company that tends to take all of our sites offline as soon as they find malware.
Step #5: Scan Your Computer
Another danger zone is your own computer. Scanning my computer is now part of my morning routine – I start each day by updating my Sophos Anti-virus software (it’s free!) and scanning my computer. Anyone who is editing your web site should be scanning their computers daily, and with updated virus definitions.
It’s a scary world out there, but once you’ve put yourself in it with your web site, you have to look out for yourself and protect yourself from the dangers of hackers and malware. Adding a few daily practices and making sure your team does the same is critical to maintaining your website’s safety and integrity.
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