No- this site has not been infected by malware.  That’s just an example of a screen you don’t want to see.

Its a screen no website owner never wants to when visiting their own site.  If the red screen pops up, somebody, somewhere, thinks that the site is up to no good and has put the site on a Blacklist. A list of sites that browsers warn users about before they take them there.

There are a number of reasons that a domain could end up on a blacklist.  But by far, the most common is that it has been hacked and malicious content has been detected on it while a search engine was attempting to crawl the site.

Nobody wants to be in Google Jail. But once this is found, it isn’t long until Google de-indexes the site and browsers like Chrome start displaying these messages.

Here are a couple of things you can do to help minimize the chances of this happening to your site:

1) Keep a nightly backup with a history going back 30 days – an easy way to temporarily fix the problem is to restore the site to a time before the infestation happened.  Of course any legitimate changes you made during that time would need to be redone. Many hosts will keep these for you. Some of the discount hosts may charge extra for what should really be a basic necessity for any business site.

2) Make sure the site is registered in the Google Search Console.  You will actually get warnings as soon as malicious content is discovered / reported by Google – so you don’t have to wait around until you see the red screen of despair.

3) Keep the site as up-to-date as your feel comfortable. Not everybody is ready to be on the bleeding edge of updates. But if you use an open-source or commercial CMS or website framework, then you need to keep your infrastructure up to date to make sure any security holes that have been found and patched are updated on your site. But keep in mind, in environments with multiple developers like Drupal, Joomla, and WordPress – there can interactions between different developers code.  So having the most up to date update, isn’t always advantageous. In single-developer environments like Squarespace or Wix, this work is happening behind the scenes for you already.

4) Have security in place. In environments like WordPress or Joomla, there are many options for security plugins.  Most MS Digital Solutions support clients have the Shield Security plugin installed. I use it to monitor for problems and keep as many problems from happening as possible. But there are many other good options too. Having Security in place at the server / host level is a good idea as well, when available.

Of course if all of this just sounds like one more distraction from your core business and the work you go into business to do – then just find a partner you trust to look after your site.

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