Hacked to bits

Security systemsAnyone involved in website security will tell you the past few months have seen a rise in the number and sophistication of website attacks. Driven by large bounties, hackers-for-hire are targeting millions of websites, taking them down and causing havoc in the process.

One of our clients, a leading expert association representing hundreds of members, was hacked into on several occasions from IP addresses in China and Saudi Arabia. To begin with they made subtle changes to server files which did not change the appearance of the site. But the reason soon became clear – the server quickly became blacklisted for sending out spam email.

They also planted phishing pages in obscure locations, corrupted system files and of course compromised data security.

Cleaning all that up took a considerable amount of time. Teasing apart the changes made by the hackers and legitimate changes made through the CMS was not straightforward. Server blacklisting took time and correspondence to remove. And emergency work to restore backups and beef up security on the site had to be done in a hurry out of hours.

So what can be done to prevent it happening in the first place? Quite a lot actually. We liken the process to stopping car theft. If a car thief is determined enough, he can get into almost any car. But if your car is more difficult to break into a thief will probably try to find an easier one instead.

Thus with websites – many attacks are automated and designed to find known vulnerabilities in older content management systems (CMS) which have not been updated for example. Wordpress and Joomla sites have been targeted this way a lot this year.

But if you keep your CMS updated to the latest version then you will generally be one step ahead of the hackers.

As well as providing an emergency restore service, Revolution can deploy additional security modules and firewall strengthening to increase security according to individual client needs.

Increasingly we are also separating our hosted sites into more secure and less secure servers to avoid cross-site vulnerabilities. We are happy to discuss all these issues in person and recommend the most appropriate steps for your business to take to avoid falling victim to this increasing trend.

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