At times I feel websites are human – they catch some sort of infection (flu) which needs to be attended to immediately, else your reputation (revenues) takes a beating.
We at Oneindia.in take steps to keep our site free of any such infections but at times we have failed (possibly only once so far). There are three services one could use to keep an eye on the health of the site,
We use anti-virus software diligently on each of the PCs to ensure the files being uploaded to the live server are virus free.
Google Webmaster Tools
We use Google Webmaster tools extensively to keep eye on the health of the site. If Google detects any of your pages are infected, you can rest assured of seeing a drastic reduction in referrals from Google.
When you log in to your GWT account you will see a message which warns you about the infection (provided the site is infected). But it doesn’t give a whole lot of information on what is the nature of infection (name of the virus).
So the guessing game starts and tries to fix things (e.g. run those pages thru anti-virus, check if the HTML file has been modified by a hacker, look for infected code inserted by a hacker)
Bing Webmaster Tools
I haven’t been a big fan of Bing webmaster tools simply because it doesn’t crawl our sites fast enough. The reason I hear on their forums is “Your site is big, so the crawler will take time to crawl”. This is an unacceptable policy. If the Bing crawler finds a site big then the crawler should see this big site as “juicy” and “mandate” itself to crawl it often every day.
Anyway, enough of BWT bashing. Today I read about their new feature – Malware Detection. Bing indirectly mentions that BWT is far superior to GWT because it will clearly mention which URLs are infected and gives the reason also. This surely is of great help to webmasters.
We luckily haven’t been flagged by BWT so not sure how the notification works. But it would be useful for BWT to send an email asking the webmaster to attend to the malware detections. Else it is very tedious on the webmaster to keep logging in to the BWT account and check every site if it is malware free. If BWT is already having this feature, good.
Early in 2009 SiteAdvisor mercilessly flagged Oneindia.in as infected and their toolbar was blocking Oneindia.in. Our surfers from the US complained to us often about this.
Sometime in October 2008, we failed in our process and few infected HTML files were uploaded to our live server. Within a few hours, we realized our mistake and corrected it. SiteAdvisor caught our error but did not record our fix.
I kept writing to their support but it was never resolved. I did feel a sense of helplessness. I turned to Twitter! I openly wrote “I need help with SiteAdvisor” and lo, an engineer from SiteAdvisor helped me within a few days. They did not find any infected files and within a few days our flag was reset to “safe”. Life was good.
McAfee has a commercial service which crawls your site every day to check if any files are infected. It is a little pricey for Indian based publishers but I would someday consider signing up for their service.