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How-to 12 min read

How to check websites for viruses

How to check websites for viruses
How to check websites for viruses

Stacy Mine
Editor at Serpstat
Computers with viruses can still function and perform tasks. It doesn't work like that with web resources, as websites with viruses are blacklisted by Google, and users are warned about the threat. In this article, we'll tell you how to prevent this from happening.

How can you indicate that the site is infected by a virus?

So, how can you tell that your website has been hacked? Here are some of the most visible symptoms:
Users report that the website is blocked by their browsers and/or security software;
The website has been added to a database of malicious URLs;
There has been a significant change in traffic and/or a drop in search engine rankings;
The website does not work properly, displaying errors and warnings; works slowly or is not available;
There's a redirect to another site when you're trying to access your website or following internal links;
Additional content on the website: any ads or pop-ups.
Information about viruses from the hosting provider.
Leak of confidential data from a website.
Appearance of new site admins on the admin panel.

What harm can viruses do to a website?

If you don't take all the safety measures, the consequences for the website could be quite severe:
Getting onto search engines' and browsers' blacklists. These are lists of resources that are flagged as potentially harmful to visitors;
Losing your website. If attackers gain access to the site's logins and passwords, they will alter the authorization data. Getting your website and its content back in this instance is nearly impossible. If the site ranks well in the SERPs, it can be used to display ads and send people to third-party websites;
Clients loss. A site that is infected takes a long time to load and may have suspicious advertisements, errors, and threat notifications. This irritates and scares away site visitors.
Damaged reputation. When viruses infect customers' devices once they visit a company's website, or worse, if personal data is shared with third parties, the company's reputation degrades.

The most common viruses on websites

There are many types of viruses. Let's take a look at some of the most popular:

  • XSS or Cross-Site Scripting is the introduction of malicious code into the page of the site.The code begins connecting to the server as soon as the user accesses the infected page, for example, stealing cookies.

  • SQL injection is the easiest way to hack a website.The GET and POST methods are used to interact with SQL databases. An attacker can obtain access to a database by sending a GET request to the server if a site has a vulnerability

  • LFI - Local File Inclusion. Connecting and using a local file on the server. PHP scripts are the most vulnerable. An attacker can obtain access to a vulnerable file and utilize it to their advantage by sending particular parameters to it.

What do you need to know to protect yourself from viruses?

Protection of an Internet resource (site, website, servers and databases) is a precautionary measure that will make it impossible to access it. Follow next steps for better website security:

  • Use the pre-installed antivirus to automatically scan for and remove viruses.

  • Disable code execution using the .htaccess file.

  • Update your site's CMS to the latest version, and don't forget to do it regularly.

  • Check for viruses on all computers you use to administer the server/site, and do this regularly.

  • Change passwords periodically.

What to do to check website for malware?

Website checks for viruses can be divided into two major types:

  • Content check. This is a superficial check, but it is the easiest way for attackers to infect a page. Let's say you have a comment field, and the hacker places a virus file into it. Despite your correct approach to users, now you've got a virus.

  • Code check. Thus, everything that a website consists of is getting checked. This can be a long process, but you should not ignore it, especially when your website is used for commercial purposes and accepts payments.

First, you need to know how search engines can help you detect viruses and timely eliminate them. When indexing websites, search engines check them for malicious codes and block dangerous content. However, search engines can't detect viruses in downloadable files, especially if they are archived.
Google regularly checks websites for malicious code, and you can find the research results by using the safe browsing service.

If everything is fine with your website, the result will look like this:
Google Transparency Report: no unsafe content found
However, it is unreasonable to wait until Google finds a virus on your website. To ensure that your website is always safe, you must:

  • Install a regular CMS antivirus scanning. There are plenty of options available for any taste and budget. Some popular solutions are Norton and Dr.Web;

  • scan your website for viruses using web services. We will talk about them later in the article;

  • scan files on the hosting to detect malicious scripts.
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What to do if the website is infected with a virus?

Let's suppose you have already configured the antivirus system so that it checks the content management system as well as all connected plugins. This is an important step, but it will only protect from the most amateurish attacks. There are frequent cases when a virus infects the website's file system from your own computer: the antivirus could not cope and allowed the malware to infect the hosted CMS.

Is the website already infected and pessimized in the search results? Carry out a sequential check of your web pages for malicious code. First, you need to scan the website for viruses using on-page SEO checkers and free online virus scan tools.

They will help determine if your website has content that is used by hackers. Normally, these are various redirects to sales websites, scripts for stealing cookies, and so on. If the hoster began to scold your website and visitors complain about advertising, you can use one of several options.

PCrisk

PCRisk website malware scanner
This website malware scanner is a free online tool that can be used to scan any website for malicious code, hidden iframes, vulnerability exploits, infected files, and other suspicious activities. This automatic tool scans 100 megabytes of the URL response content and can effectively identify evolving web threats.

You do not have to register to have your website scanned for malicious content. If you want your website to be reviewed manually, you can choose one of the tariffs and pay for manual scanning.

VirusTotal

How to check a site for malware in VirusTotal
This is an industry rock star thanks to the speed of work. You don't need to register or go through any other circles of hell. Just insert a link, upload a file, or just find a page through a search engine. Thanks to the large database, there is no need to wait for the verification of websites that have already been verified. The service will simply give the result of an online scan of the website for viruses, showing an estimate of over 65 antivirus systems.

Sucuri

Online virus checking Sucuri
The good thing about this service is that it uses its own heuristic-based verification algorithm. To use it, you need to register and select a tariff plan. Despite the fact that prices may seem high, the service offers full support and even removal of malicious code by specialists. By the way, if your website has already "crashed" due to malware, the service employees are ready to fix it for $500.

Checking website files

In addition to web services, there is also the option of checking all the files that make up the website. To do this, download all the files using FileZilla or similar software and check infected website's files using the antivirus software on your computer. Once the malicious code is found, replace the file with a healthy one and upload it back to the hosting.

Using the popular AI-Bolit script also yields results. It must be placed in the root folder of the website, and then you need to run it using a browser. It checks website for malware and sends a report to e-mail or saves data to a file.
Antivirus and malware scanner for websites AI-Bolit

Conclusion

The abovementioned methods are more likely to be preventative in their essence and can cure the website of simple viruses. If a resource is under a targeted attack, only a team of professionals will be able to repel it using the appropriate software.

Anyway, it is better not to neglect the protection of your website. If you use the abovementioned services and scripts, you can find and destroy ordinary malware as quickly as possible, not to lose the trust of users and search engines, and therefore the website positions in the search results.

FAQ:

How can I check to see if a website is safe?

- Double check URLs
- Check for https protocol
- Perform an online site security check
- Install additional software to protect your network

Can Google detect viruses?

Open Google Search Console, select your property, and navigate to Security Issues and Manual Actions → Security Issues. If the site does not contain malicious code or software, malware download links, misleading pages, potential phishing, or other violations, the message “No problems” should be displayed

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