Safe Browsing shows people more than 5 million warnings per day for all sorts of malicious sites and unwanted software, and discovers more than 50,000 malware sites and more than 90,000 phishing sites every month. – Google
Security has long been a focal point for us and it never ceases to amaze me with how the field grows and becomes more complex with each day. Keeping up with software updates, security patches and password changes can be challenging for businesses large and small alike and unfortunately this can lead to security breaches.
So you have a website, how do you know if you’ve been compromised? Ideally you have a proactive security system in place actively monitoring and alerting you, but in case you don’t there are a few ways for you to check the health of your site.
Google Webmaster Tools
Google Webmaster Tools is a must have for any website owner. Not only does this tool give you valuable insights into the performance of your website, it can alert you to issues that have been detected – including security issues. A website owner or web master should be checking this tool regularly to maintain a healthy website and be aware of any security issues that arise. The important thing to remember with this tool is that if it detects a security issue, your search results in Google will be marked with a nasty ‘this website may harm your computer‘ message and many web browsers will prevent your visitors from even entering the site. If you see any security messages under “Security Issues” it is vital that you resolve these issues immediately and mark the issues as Fixed as soon as you are sure they have been corrected.
To use Google Webmaster tools there is some set up and you will need to know how use FTP or modify DNS records. This is a one time occurrence and you may have easier methods available if you are using a popular Content Management System system such as WordPress or Joomla. Once it is set up, it can be configured to email you with any important messages about your site.
Although Webmaster tools may not tell you specifically which hacks or vulnerabilities are present on your site, it does provide you with clues and a wealth of resources to assist in correcting the issue.
This tool is a must.
Bing Web Master Tools
Bing Webmaster Tools is Microsoft’s equivalent to Google’s Webmaster Tools. The features it provides are specific to Microsoft’s Bing search engine but like Google, it also provides important security messages.
The set up, ease of use and accuracy are virtually identical with that of Google. Once you have gone through the Site Ownership verification process, navigate to the Security->Malware section of the tool to see if there are any security issues Bing has detected with your site. Similar to Google, if there are issues, you will need to correct and mark them as fixed as quickly as possible to prevent losing traffic to your site.
This tool is a must.
McAfee Site Advisor
McAffee Site Advisor is a quick way to verify the trustworthiness and security of your site. Although it offers little information in the way of “what is wrong” with your site, it has the advantage of being a consumer grade tool that is often enabled when their flagship antivirus software is installed on a computer. There is no set up and no learning curve other than needing to know how to use a web browser. Simply to go the site, enter your web address into the scanner and within a few seconds it will give you some information about your site. If your site has been flagged in McAffee, you may be flagged in other Antivirus scanners as well (Norton, BitDefender, etc.).
Where this particular tool is weak is the degree of accuracy. It has been known to falsely identify a site as harmful or hacked. Although this is nice and quick scan, results should be cross checked with other tools on the list.
Not a must, a nice quick Go-To.
Sucuri SiteCheck is a great tool mainly because of its ease of use and zero set up. To use it, simply navigate to the site and enter your website address into their scanner and hit the Scan Website button. Within a few seconds you will be presented with a report detailing any security issues with your site along with technical details and blacklist statuses. The only downside to Sucuri is that the accuracy can vary. Although you can trust it to provide a reasonably high level of accuracy, it would not be advisable to use this as your only method to validate the security health of your website.
Not a must, but this tool is a great Go-To.
In conclusion, these 4 tools give a website owner a few different ways to check on the health of their website. Sometimes, simply checking your website on your own is not enough and nasty scripts have been injected into your site and are not visible. It is important to make sure you are scanning, monitoring and staying on top of your sites security to protect your data and your audience.