Google Offers Help, Advice for Hacked Website Owners

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Print this article Print

Google set up online resources to help the owners of hacked Websites regain control and make security repairs.

Google is offering a new series of "how-to" articles and videos to help the owners of hacker Websites regain control of their online properties and keep the Internet safer for users.

The project was put together by Google to explain the technical and procedural steps that have to be followed to halt the malicious activities of hackers, while also providing information for bolstering your Website security to prevent such attacks from happening again, wrote Maile Ohye, Google's developer programs tech lead, in a March 12 post on the Google Developers Blog.

"If you've ever helped a friend recover their hacked site, you know it can get fairly complicated—beyond just the technical issues," wrote Ohye. "Our new 'Help for Hacked Sites' series includes articles and 80+ minutes of video to help you, and to help you help others."

The new site provides answers and information about why Websites are attacked and taken over by hackers, how it was done and what must be done to remove "this site may harm your computer" warning labels that can be added to search results when an infected or compromised Website is found during a search, wrote Ohye. Those warning labels will keep future visitors from using your Website until you make repairs and remove the labels.

"'Help for Hacked Sites' also provides more detailed information on specific issues, such as background on the malware infection type error template or server configuration if your site was hacked to distribute malware," she wrote.

When a site is hacked, the computers of site visitors can then be attacked by malicious code that hackers embedded into the infected Website. Without prevention, such attacks can be done easily, and without quick and thorough repairs, the attacks can spread to many users around the world.

Also featured is helpful information for how to tighten a Website's security so that site owners can prevent such attacks in the first place. That means implementing a security and maintenance plan for your Website if you haven't already done so, she wrote.

The preventive steps include being vigilant about keeping software updated for the site, as well as understanding the security practices of all applications, plug-ins, third-party software and other applications before you use them with your site, wrote Ohye.

Also important for good site security is the removal of unnecessary or unused software because it can lead to security vulnerabilities, as well as the enforcement and creation of strong passwords for the site. All devices used to log in to the site's servers should be constantly updated with security patches to close vulnerabilities, and regularly scheduled automated site backups must be made in case of disaster with the site.

The work to make these kinds of repairs after they happen isn't usually simple, and that's why the help site was created, wrote Ohye.

"While we attempt to outline the necessary steps in recovery, each task remains fairly difficult for site owners unless they have advanced knowledge of system administrator commands and experience with source code," wrote Ohye. "We certainly hope you never have to use our new 'Help for Hacked Sites' informational series. It's a dozen articles and over an hour of videos dedicated to helping Webmasters in the unfortunate event that their site is compromised."

Google often works to make Internet security a topic that is on the minds of its millions of users.

In February, Google described in a blog post how it is always fighting hard to keep the email inboxes of its users free from the annoying, fraudulent and scam-peddling spam that hackers churn out.

In March 2012, Google implemented another account security feature that lets users receive a monthly "account activity" report containing password-protected insights into their use of Google services. With the reports, users can track their Google account usage and be sure that their accounts are not being used by spammers and hackers.

Originally published on www.eweek.com.