The Dreaded Google Malware Warning: How to avoid it, and what to do if Google blacklists your website

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Posted 4 years ago

The Dreaded Google Malware Warning: How to avoid it, and what to do if Google blacklists your website?“Danger: Malware Ahead”

Oops, don’t worry this is not a malware warning. But you must have seen similar malware messages on some website or other, while browsing the internet. This is something which harms a website and its traffic badly. In fact, for chrome users, this kind of malware literally shuts down a site. Any website can become a victim of malware. But the important point here is to know how it actually happens, and how it can be avoided.

What Is A Google Malware Warning?

Whenever Google flags a site saying “This site may harm your computer” or any other Malware warning, it means that the automated web crawler of the concerned page has been attacked by viruses or spyware. And Google wants to warn its users against visiting the malicious site. The warning is not some kind of penalty to the website owner, and it’s not a permanent feature that will apply to your site forever. In fact, with certain effort and a thorough clean-up process, you can fix everything, and the site can get back its regular visitors again.

However, it’s important to know the various reasons that can lead to your site getting flagged by Google.

Reasons for getting a Google Malware warning

1. The most common reason could be that your site has been hacked. A hacker can insert malicious code on your server, and can even redirect your visitors to a malicious site by tricks.

2. If your site is dependent on another site for any kind of content, and it’s hit by malware, your site is bound to be affected.

3. Even if your site is linked to another site which has been harmed by malware, it might harm your site as well. Though there are rare chances in this case, however, it’s important to be aware of this possibility.

What to do if Google blacklists your website

There are various steps, strategies and cautions that you can take to help get rid of the malware and get back on the good side of Google again.

1. The first thing to do is to contact the server administrator or someone who can help in getting the malware removed. Since specific technical skills are needed to remove and clean a site of malware, you must get in contact with someone who is really capable and efficient for the task. The more time your site remains blacklisted, the more damage it can create to your business and profits.

2. Until the time your technician is rectifying the problem, you should close the website entirely to prevent further harm to your website, because the malware warning sign can cause great damage to your site, business, and reputation.

3. To track the malware, use tools like Firebug or Fiddler and try to find out the actual cause of the problem and its source.

4. Enlist the help of Google Webmaster Tools for finding more clues about the problem and the potential risk. To use this tool, you must add your site to Webmaster Tools, and verify your ownership by taking up one of the four verification steps offered there.

5. The next step is to find and destroy the malware. This might not be so easy and might require help of an expert. But this is definitely the most important task to be done immediately.

6. When you successfully destroy the cause of the malware, and are confident that the cause won’t come up again, you must ensure that the software and the Server OS are all updated so that there are no security holes remaining. Change passwords of administrative and database accounts and tighten security of the firewall, as well as the permission levels to ensure no such damage in the future.

7. After the malware has been removed, request a site review of your website from Google, so that you can get the Google Malware Warning removed. This can be done through the Google Webmaster Tools page. Visit the Health > Malware page, and click on the “request a site review” button. Once Google deems your site free from all malware, the disturbing warning messages will be gone, and you’ll find you site back in place. However, this might take a while.

Once your website in out of danger, and back in place, you must ensure that it remains free from such malware in the future. And for that, you must know how to tighten up security to prevent future re-infection of malware, and to keep your website secure.

Tighten up security

1. Keep regular backups. You must at least, back up your files once every week, and store them on a different server.

2. Use unique and strong passwords that don’t consist of mere numbers or letters. Do not save the password in your system.

3. Watch for fake accounts by checking that all FTP accounts are authorized. Use SFTP when available.

Security practices to maintain:

  • Remove all unnecessary software and plugins
  • Update all software regularly
  • Update all plugins
  • Regularly run a web vulnerability scan to detect weak points in your site

Upgrading WordPress:

  • Always keep WordPress updated to the most current version, and get rid of nonspecific accounts.
  • Strengthen your directories so that hackers cannot use them
  • Determine and keep track of who is accessing your WordPress environment
  • Remove unnecessary access

Following all of the above steps should help you remove existing malware and restore your site to good heath, and help prevent future malware infections.

– Ady Sachdeva

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