“This site may be hacked” – where does this come from?

Guna Nadar

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The message “This site maybe hacked” comes as a surprise to many website owners.

Where does it come from? They would have done everything right with the SEO and the coding standards. Well, according to a discussion in a recent Google blog, there has been a 180% increase in hacking of websites. Google has recently launched its #NoHacked campaign along with algorithm updates that brings in stricter policies for webmasters.

Site may be hacked

Warning in search engines might take several forms, including:

  • “This Site maybe Compromised”
  • This Site may harm your computer”
  • “This site maybe hacked
  • “Something’s not right here!”
  • “Visiting this site may harm your computer”
  • “The link to this site is disabled because it might download malicious software that can harm your computer”

The problem lies in the way websites are getting developed. According to some expert consultants, the first thing that clients are looking for are creating people who would be able to design a good looking interface and the last thing they consider is the security of the website. However, security should be something that is considered even before the design is finalized. Web developers need to stop ignoring and postponing security issues at the peril of customer’s information.

Here are the top ways how a website gets hacked

1. Cross Site scripting or XSS

One of the most pernicious problem, XSS flaws come into being when applications send user data into web browsers without validating or encoding the content. This gives the opportunity to a hacker to run malicious scripts in browsers and thus hijack user sessions, insert hostile content, engage in phishing, malware attacks and deface websites. In the worst case scenario, the hacker is also able to steal information and impersonate a user in a banking website. A recent example of such an attack has been PayPal.

2. Injection flaws

Sites that engage in sending user-supplied data to be reviewed by interpreters as a part of the query, hackers get to trick the interpreter. Text based commands are thus executed and injection flaws allows the hacker to read, create, delete or update arbitrary data available to the application. In 2006, such an SQL injection attack helped hackers steal more than 53,000 credit card numbers from the Rhode Island Government website.

3. Malicious file execution

Using this, hackers are able to perform code execution, remote rootkit installation or completely compromise a site. If a web application accepts files or filenames from users, it can be devastating. This is more common with websites that use PHP. An example would be exposing Guess.com to attacks that could have compromised more than 200,000 customer records. The discovery was done by a teenage programmer.

4. Insecure direct object reference

In this form of hacking, attackers manipulate the direct object references to get access to other objects. This is possible when form parameters and URLs contain reference to objects like keys, database records, directories and files. This is more common with banking websites that use customer account numbers as primary keys.

5. Cross site request forgery

Simple but devastating, this will enable the hacker to take control of the victim’s browser when he/she logs onto a particular website. This will then send malicious request to web applications, with banks being the potential targets. Cross site scripting allowed a hacker called Samy to gain a million friends on MySpace in late 2005 using the message “Samy is my hero”.

6. Information leakage / improper error handling

When applications generate error messages, the display is useful to hackers who violate privacy and leak out information about the internal working and configuration of the program. The debug error messages, often given by websites could be more harmful than informative. The best example for this would be the “Choice Point debacle” that happened in 2005. In this event, the information of more than a 163,000 customers was compromised.

7. Broken sessions and authentication

Administrative and user accounts can be hacked when applications fail to protect the credentials of session tokens from the beginning till the end of the process. Hacking is often induced through ancillary authentication requests like “forgot password”, timeout, secret question, remember me, account update and logout. Microsoft faced this crisis in 2002 when malicious programmers could steal user passwords.

8. Insecure cryptographic storage

Many a times, developers fail to completely encrypt data in storage even with cryptography. A good example would be the famous TJX Data Breach in 2005 that exposed more than 45.7 million credit and debit card details. The computer can be compromised at any point in time. Apart from the above instances, there are several ways in which websites can get hacked and lose their credibility. Taking the right steps would start with recognizing the vulnerability and partnering up with a good security service provider.

Category :

SEO News

Tags :

Hacking,website Hacking,SEO

About Guna Nadar

Guna Nadar

Brief Info about Guna Nadar +

I mostly write technical aspects and not much into creative writing. For the past decade I worked along with top notch SEO & Internet Marketing professionals which naturally lured me into the world of Search Engines. When I am not writing I read from comics to philosophy.Antiques, Fishing, hunting are my passions. Currently I am working on Google Penalty protection and .... more info


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