What is Website hacking and how to ensure your website is safe?

In this digital age, we all know the importance of having a website for your business (or a your personal website for your hobbies).

A good website helps you and your business in a lot of good ways and act as your partner, online marketer which works around the clock and is accessible to whole world. It allows your existing and prospective customers to read about your company, the services and products you provide, lets them send you inquiries while you are away or even while you are sleeping.

As with all other services, equipment that we use in our businesses, our websites need regular maintenance as well and if not maintained well, they can impact our business in negative ways.

With the release of new technologies / techniques everyday to secure your websites and applications, the hackers and malicious users are finding new ways to hack and impact your websites. It is then the duty of business owners and webmasters to tackle such hackers and keep their website clean and secure.

In this article, we will learn about website hacking, the various methods of hacking and how can we keep our websites safe from these hackers.

Note: Part of the article content has been taken from Google and other valuable 3rd party sources. Please see references section at the end of the article.

What is hacking or hacked content?

Hacked content is any content placed on your site without your permission as a result of vulnerabilities in your site’s security. In order to protect our users and to maintain the integrity of our search results, Google tries its best to keep hacked content out of our search results. Hacked content gives poor search results to our users and can potentially install malicious content on their machines. We recommend that you keep your site secure, and clean up hacked content when you find it.

Some examples of hacking include:

  • Injected content

    When hackers gain access to your website, they might try to inject malicious content into existing pages on your site. This often takes the form of malicious JavaScript injected directly into the site, or into iframes.
  • Added content

    Sometimes, due to security flaws, hackers are able to add new pages to your site that contain spammy or malicious content. These pages are often meant to manipulate search engines. Your existing pages might not show signs of hacking, but these newly-created pages could harm your site’s visitors or your performance in search results.
  • Hidden content

    Hackers might also try to subtly manipulate existing pages on your site. Their goal is to add content to your site that search engines can see but which may be harder for you and your users to spot. This can involve adding hidden links or hidden text to a page by using CSS or HTML, or it can involve more complex changes like cloaking.

  • Redirects

    Hackers might inject malicious code to your website that redirects some users to harmful or spammy pages. The kind of redirect sometimes depends on referrer, user-agent, or device. For example, clicking a URL in Google search results could redirect you to a suspicious page, but there is no redirect when you visit the same URL directly from a browser.

Remember, the most effective way to combat hacking is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Here are our tips on both preventing hacked content and cleaning it up.

Now you have some idea about the types of Content hacking on the website, we will review and study a website which we noticed as hacked and will review its screenshots.

  1. Searching for Amul diary on Google shows you following results:
  2. You will not notice anything suspicious until you look at the results closely. The search results for amul dairy have been hacked and it has references to cialis, viagra etc words.
  3. If you click on the website, the website will open normally and you will not find such text / links on the website, so these are only visible to search engines but not normal users.
  4. To see the hacked content, please click on cached results and you will see the text that Google sees on the website.
  5. Now you will see a big paragraph of spammy content / text with loads of links to spam websites

    So as we have seen in the screenshots, the website has spam content which is not visible to normal users visiting the website but is visible to search engines which think it is part of the website content and displays same as part of search results.

    To be continued....

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