In their efforts to protect users and to make the search engine safe from dangerous pages, Google is continuously working on filtering and identifying websites that are deemed to be deceptive. This update was announced by Google way back in early 2016. However, not everyone seemed to have understood the ins and out of this initiative.
This is the very reason why most websites who are actually legitimate are flagged as a deceptive website. If you are one of the site owners or managers who are experiencing this in your website, here are some things you should know.
What Is Social Engineering Attacks?
Deceptive and phishing websites are considered as social engineering attacks. These are websites that contain embedded contents that trick users into doing something dangerous. This could be in form of ads, images or other third-party resources. Oftentimes, social engineering attacks such as phishing are done to gather confidential information about users such as their credit card information by pretending to be a trusted entity. A user will be tricked to enter information or download software.
To address the numerous complaints of users about the malicious content, Google has launched a safe browsing and flagged sites that are considered to be malicious and deceptive.
Through search results, Google can provide users with a warning about the website. You can also manually check if the site is unsafe for browsing through Google Safe Browsing.
Why Is Your Site Flagged?
Your site can be flagged as unsafe by Google without you knowing why. The culprit could be cybercriminals. You might have been hacked. Hackers are web developer themselves that is why they are able to sneak out into your system. Initially, through Google warning alerts or search results warning, you will know that you have been hacked.
Cybercriminals hacked your content by changing embedded content or add additional pages on your site. Some hacked sites might be a little bit difficult to clean because most hackers use cloaking technique. This technique will show different types of content to different types of users.
When your site is hacked, it is not only your website that is compromised but your business, as a whole. Any stolen information from your website can be a ground for a lawsuit against your business. It is vital that you should take action once your website is hacked.
What To Do To Clean Out Your Website
Google reported a 32% increase in the number of hacked website last 2016. Unfortunately, not everyone has the skills to successfully clean out hacked websites.
Google suggest 7 helpful tips to fix the damage and successfully redeem your website. These are the following:
#1. Build a Support Team.
It is crucial that you inform your web host as soon as you find out that your website was hacked. They can provide you with assistance in recovering your website.
#2. Site Quarantine.
Taking your site offline allows you to recover your site with less interference. This will also prevent visitors to be exposed to malicious contents in your website.
#3. Using Search Console.
Through search console, you will be able to verify your ownership of the website and determine the nature of the attack.
#4. Assessing Spam/Malware Damage.
Your website will either have “This site may be hacked” or “This site may harm your computer” warnings in search results. You may have been hacked to host spam or affected by a malware, respectively. This is the section where you list down the damage files, fix keywords and links hacked or check database, files and commands.
#5. Identifying Vulnerability.
Start your investigation. Find and fix mo, if not all, vulnerabilities of your website.
#6. Clean Up and Maintenance Of Website.
This is the stage where you search for resources which have been used by hackers to get into your website and obtain information. Remove all contents and URLs created by the hacker in Search Console, install latest security update of your software, clean and remove irrelevant applications and plugins, fix the cause of vulnerability, and update all confidential information such as passwords.
#7. Request For A Review.
When you are done with the previous of the steps, request a review from Google to have your website unflagged or remove the warning on your website.
If you are a site owner and you have little to no idea about web development, you can delegate a trusted web development and design team to recover your website for you using these steps.
Future Action To Protect Your Site From Hackers
You can’t afford to get your site hacked once again. Thus, you need to have a plan of action to protect your website from hackers. As mentioned above, you need to continue checking and fixing vulnerabilities in your website. Keeping your software updated will also amp up your security. Also, do not forget the importance of creating strong passwords for your server and other systems.
Moreover, you need a skillful team to back you up. With the increasing site threats, you need to have a strong team to protect your website from hackers or cybercriminals.
Protect your website and business from being a victim of data theft and threats by continuously improving your website’s security. Make sure hackers cannot see an opening to illegally enter your website.
There is just too many cybercriminals these days that anyone with a website can be a target. Indirectly, Google is doing website owners a favor, the threat warnings they provide is an indication for website owners to never stop improving their website security.