Web Site Security Issues

Web Click has excellent security across its network and servers, but from time to time, a client reports their individual web site has been hacked or affected in some way, such as being defaced.

Usually their site has suffered this fate for one or more simple reasons:

1)    Poor security passwords used to access the hosting account or Content Management System – ie. test123. With a password such as this your web site is easily compromised, so pick a high security password that utilises no regular English words, and uses both capitals and numbers, which is not easily guessed.

2)    Poor web developer coding skills which allow the web site to be compromised.  A common problem with poorly coded web sites is a technique known as SQL injection, where due to coding flaws data can be directly inserted into a web site database.

3)    Security issues with commonly used Content Management Systems such as Joomla or Wordpress, or third party modules used with these systems. As they are common platforms they are often targeted by hackers and if you do not keep your CMS up to date with the latest copy you can run into security issues. For instance Joomla version 1.5 is no longer officially supported by the Joomla foundation, and has known security issues that make it relatively easy to compromise.  Hence all clients should update their version if they run 1.5.

If you report your site has been hacked to Web Click, then it will conduct several rudimentary checks:

1) It will check server logs to see who has recently accessed the hosting account itself to see if it is being accessed from unusual locations (ie. outside Australia), which may indicate the password has been compromised

2) It will check to see if there are any security issues on Web Click's own servers

3) It will conduct a brief check on the nature of the damage to the web site to see if it can offer any advice

Usually it will be necessary for your web developer or Web Click to upload a previous copy of the web site that has not been compromised.  Web Click will usually charge for this service.  It is then important that your passwords are changed and the web site checked for vulnerabilities by your web developer.  If required Web Click can also assist with this process, including conducting forensic security services.

The Australian Government also has its own computer security response team known as CERT which can assist with severe security issues.  Other Government sites that may be useful for general security information include ACMA and the Attorney General's web site.

Denial of Service Attack

Although unusual, there is another reason a web site may be offline. A Denial of Service attack is a method where a third party makes your web site unavailable by flooding the hosting server with massive amounts of traffic, making it unaccessible.  This is unusual but not unheard of, and may be used as a means of extorting money from a business to remove the attack. If such an attack occurs Web Click will investigate the attack immediately and rectify it if possible, but it may be necessary to contact CERT in such a situation who can provide higher level assistance.