If 2012 was the year of big Google search algorithm updates, 2013 has turned into the year of hacked websites. Beginning early this year, we have witnessed an incredible surge in attempts to gain malicious access to websites we control as well as websites across the web. Just yesterday the FBI warned that Anonymous has hacked US government sites for a year, earlier this year Apple’s dev center was down for weeks due to hacking, Sony got hacked as well as 10s of thousands or other websites.
So why the increase in hacking? For Google and Arbor Networks, what motivates the hackers is no secret. For years hackers have been installing viruses on personal computers to steal information as well as use those hacked computers to gain access to more vulnerable computers. The problem with attacking personal computers is they are not always running AND their Internet connections are slow relative to the bandwidth available to most websites. Why focus on hacking personal computers when hackers can gain access to powerful web servers with huge Internet connections. These web servers pose as the perfect staging ground for future attempts to gain access to more sites as well as execute distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against government websites and financial institutions. For Google and Arbor Networks, the threat is so real, they have created an interactive map so you can watch in real time what parts of the world are being attacked.
So how are you supporting this global terrorism? If your web site is running out of date software, you are a target and your site may already be launching attacks on other sites without your knowledge. If your site is not monitored for malicious code, your site may already be compromised. If you don’t have secure passwords and some type of hacking protection implemented on your site, your site is vulnerable.
The steps to take to protect and monitor your site are not costly. We run into many site owners who don’t believe their sites are a target. The hackers don’t care what content is on your site or how popular it is. The hackers want access to your bandwidth. And the easiest way for them to gain access, is to target sites that don’t follow simple security best practices.