Website hacking occurs when users with malicious intent exploit security loopholes in a website’s code. With the advent of a number of new technologies solely devoted to the spread of spam and malware — and popular new “hacking kits” that allow amateur hackers to launch sophisticated attacks — there’s no time like the present to learn how to identify the signs. If you want to know for sure if the site you’re visiting has been exploited, here are some clues and tips to consider:
The easiest and most straightforward way to tell if the website is hacked is to run a diagnostic test. Google’s safebrowsing tool will determine the site’s current listing status, whether it has acted as an “intermediary” for the distribution of malware, whether it hosts malware, and whether any malicious downloading or installing was occurring at the time of Google’s visit. To use the tool, just add a URL to http://www.google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site=. Another useful website is http://wepawet.iseclab.org/, which performs similar tests.
This is perhaps the most obvious warning. If you visit an infected site, a “malware warning” page will immediately pop up. Certain websites will appear on internet blacklists: You can check the Stopbadware.com Clearinghouse site, or the Clean MX Real-Time database in order to check the status of a particular site.
This is almost always an indicator of an infected site. If you want to be really thorough, check the site’s source code for links, files, etc. that appear extraneous. Visitors can check a website’s source code by clicking “source” on the View menu in nearly all versions of Internet Explorer, as well as Safari and Firefox. If the site is freely hosted, the pages may contain mandatory code for advertisements, or otherwise have files that are required for the site to function properly. If you’re not sure, contact the site host for details.
Put The Domain Name in a Search Engine…
One of the most surefire ways to determine if a site is hacked is quite a simple one, actually: Put the visited site’s domain name (www.domainname.com) into a search engine, and type in a spam term immediately after it. Believe it or not, the most common terms are ED drugs like Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra. Why? The reason that sites are hacked in the first place is to increase the search engine rankings of sites by adding keywords to other ones. The query will return all indexed pages on your site that contain the word “Viagra,” for example. Google is probably the best search engine to use for such a test, as it “crawls” sites for data pretty often.
Protect Your Computer
Really, the best way to protect your computer from a virus/malware is to have antivirus software installed. Make sure your version is the most recent, and that it has real-time update capability. Also, make sure your internet firewall software is activated at all times — try the Free ZoneAlarm firewall, here. Most importantly, when you download anything, whether it be music, games, video, or free software — always exercise caution. Scan the download link in one of the above listed websites to make sure, first.