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What Is Malware? How Can You Protect Yourself?

8 Comments 21 December 2011

   

Malware is shorthand for malicious software. So, it is the general term that encompasses the terms you may be more familiar with such as virus, trojan horse, etc.

Why am I talking about this?

According to the Wikipedia page on malware, “Microsoft reported in May 2011 that every one in 14 downloads from the Internet may now contain malware code, according to the Wall Street Journal. Social media, and Facebook in particular, is seeing a rise in new tactics for spreading harm to computers.”

So, we all need to stay on top of this stuff if we are going to use the internet and I’ve learned a few things the hard way that I’d like to share.

And most importantly, I want you to know that I’m doing everything I can to protect you!

Recently, Celiac Chicks was infected with malware. How totally embarrassing! When the emails started coming in I could identify with that girl in high school everyone said had herpes. It turns out though, that I’m not alone. Potentially millions of sites that use WordPress software were vulnerable to this attack or similar attacks. And a lot of popular food blogs use WordPress software.

OK, so my IT guy went to work to check out the files and I had my hosting service run some scans. Both of them found a bunch of nasty files, quarantined them, and then deleted them. More scans were run and everything came out clean.

Shortly after this I received a few more emails from readers saying the site was setting off their anti-virus software. I’m so grateful for these conscientious souls for alerting me! So, more scans were done and this time the hosting company found more files, but my IT guy was frustrated because “according to Google Safe Browsing Diagnostic Celiac Chicks is clean.” And for those of you that don’t know, Google can blacklist your site if it is found to have malware on it. This never happened to me.

The hosting site deleted the new files and completed another scan and everything came out clean again.

And then more emails started to appear! My IT guy insisted that they had to be mistaken, but I had heard of “backdoor sleeper trojans” that hide from scans and then regenerate. I had a sneaky suspicion this is what I was dealing with.

What to do? Listen to my IT guy? Or listen to my intuition and my readers?

This is when I decided to call in The A Team. Not only was my reputation on the line, but I felt a responsibility not to spread anything through my website. I love my readers and when one wrote in about to cry I  couldn’t take it anymore.

So, a web designer in a women’s business group I’m a member of, Michelle Martello of Minima Designs, said that she recommends Sucuri Security to all of her clients.  The testimonials related to the exact same thing I was dealing with were impressive. So, I wasted no time and let them work their magic. Within two hours they had found the hidden malware and removed it. I was so blown away by their service I signed up to be an affiliate!

AND the thing that really makes me rest at ease is their service will now scan my website every six hours looking for suspicious content, report it, and delete it. Their logo is true, “Malware has no chance.”

                       

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PROTECT YOURSELF

Do you have a blog or website? I highly recommend Sucuri. I wish I had known a service like this existed before I had to deal with this mess. It’s reasonably priced and you’ll be able to sleep at night knowing you’re doing your part not to spread the equivalent of virtual STDs.  Your reputation is worth it. You can check out their free scans for starters.

For home computer users, you need to have some sort of anti-virus service in use. Macs tend to be a little less vulnerable to these things. They aren’t completely immune, but less vulnerable. Sophos is a good free scan for Macs. My Mac came out squeaky clean. Norton Antivirus is a great paid service for other computers.

In conclusion, I’d like to publicly thank the readers that wrote in to let me know about this problem. I hope you will now read Celiac Chicks with confidence knowing that it is fully protected from anything nasty. Together we can all fight malware!

Thank you for your patience and understanding! I love you guys! And thank you Sucuri!

OK, back to more fun things! mwah!

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Your Comments

8 Comments so far

  1. 1
     

    Kelly, I saw the thread the forum and to read the whole story here … wow! You have done a great service to many of us by sharing the details and these resources. Congrats on getting the problem fixed!

  2. 2
     
    Kelly says:

    Laurie, Thank you sooooo much for your kind words! *sigh of relief* Hugs!

  3. 3
     
    Dianne says:

    Thank you for your frankness and the information, and yes, we are still friends!

  4. 4
     

    Kelly, I’m confused. I thought you said you had a Mac. Then where does the Securi come in?

    The reason I’m asking is I have a Mac too, but my website is not on Word Press. But just yesterday my computer starting acting up in Microsoft Word, so I wonder if somehow I got a bug, which is unusual for Macs. Just wondering if this was anything related. Pat

    •  
      Kelly says:

      Hey Pat…no prob…a lot to take in. I do have a Mac and it never was infected. I used Sophos free scan for Macs just to make sure, because evidently infected computers can infect websites. At least that is what I was told. I’m not sure if just any computer can infect any website, my guess is just if it has access to upload files…and then if the files are infected.

      SO, Securi is just for the other end of security…the website! They are what antivirus services are to home computers, but for websites. The continually scan the website now every 6 hours to look for funky files and delete them. Hopefully this will redeem me to the readers that had my site set off their antivirus software. ;)

      So, your Mac is probably OK. Mine always acts a little weird with Word and similar programs that were adapted for Mac. BUT, just to be safe, why not do the free Sophos scan? Macs are pretty much immune to most nasty stuff out there, but they are not totally immune. BTW, I just found out that Norton now has antivirus for Macs now too!

      So, the Securi is your decision to use or not. I just was totally embarrassed by this situation AND I felt a responsibility to protect you guys. You know?

      The reason a few people were confused by my email reference to my Mac…what I meant was, without people emailing me about the site…I wouldn’t have known there was a problem because evidently my personal Mac wasn’t affected by the nasties on the site.

      Hope that explains it better. BTW ,Luv ur site!


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Kelly Courson

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Thanks for stopping by! I'm Kelly Courson and this is where I've shared my gluten-free finds since 2003. The world has been my gluten-free oyster for 14 years now and I love sharing what I've learned in order to help others adapt to a gluten-free diet. Have a look around and feel free to leave a comment. Connecting with people like you is what has kept me going this long! Seriously.
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