Affiliate Buzz #275 – How to Avoid or Recover Your Site from a Malware Attack

James Martell, host of the Affiliate Buzz podcast, knows firsthand how serious a malware attack can be - in fact, it can potentially bring your business to a screeching halt. Knowing how to handle these situations is absolutely to your advantage.

In this Affiliate Buzz, Co-host Arlene Martell starts off the talk by discussing the upcoming holiday season and shopping online for gifts. She recently got a great deal on a great kids’ play kitchen set - the KidKraft Grand Gourmet Kitchen Center - that she looks forward to having in their home for when two of their favorite kids come over to play.

Arlene shares the process she uses when shopping online. She always shops around and particularly focuses on reading reviews of different products before buying.

In this case, she checked Craigslist in her shopping research as well. Finding a play kitchen that is built well and will last years to come was the goal, so naturally those being sold on Craigslist that were just a few years old and in very poor condition were not the brands to be looking at.

Arlene is one of many shoppers who are getting geared up for the upcoming holiday season. With the volume of shoppers increasing tremendously over the coming months, it’s an incredibly inconvenient time to be dealing with website security issues like malware.

The Dreaded Red Screen

Long term Microsoft users probably remember the “dreaded blue screen” that would come up as a result of certain errors of the operating system. Similarly, webmasters today need to be wary or the “red screen” that Google applies to websites that are compromised with malware. Instead of landing on a page within a website, users are warned to turn away to avoid malware.

Clearly, this is an affiliate’s worst nightmare, especially with the holiday shopping season just getting under way!

James and Arlene recently found this problem appear on not just one of their websites, but every website that they had hosted on a particular server. The frustrating truth is that there are hackers out there that seem to attack websites in this fashion almost as a sport. In the Martells’ case, the mess took an entire week to clean up.

Arlene has been receiving emails lately from other webmasters who have gone through this lately as well. If you don’t know what to do or where to start, it’s easy to panic when you find that your website has been compromised. Either way, these attacks lead to a significant amount of lost productivity.

Getting Rid of Malware

As James points out, getting rid of malware on your website server isn’t exactly complicated - it’s just tedious and time consuming. He shares step by step how he went about cleaning up his own websites in the recent attack.

One of the websites that really helped in the cleanup was Sucuri.net. The resource was incredibly helpful in the process of fixing up the websites that were compromised. They were able to get their sites back on track without even having to use their backups.

Using Sucuri made the process much more simple in a few ways. James simply put through a malware removal request and gave the service access to the server.

Signing up with Sucuri costs $89, which covers not just site clean-up, but an entire year of support and monitoring as well.

What Increases Risk for Malware Attacks?

There are a few risk factors that many webmasters might already have on their websites and be unaware of:

  • Old, outdated websites that are just sitting dormant on your server.
  • WordPress themes with security risks.
  • Out of date scripts.
  • Not updating WordPress.

James and Arlene conclude the talk by talking a little bit about their upcoming “breakation” as they attend Affiliate Summit. James will give a talk on Sunday morning, when the conference begins.

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