Most websites don’t know how they were hacked

The hacking of Israeli websites in recent months has put Internet security on the agenda. The hacking caused an initial public panic, which gradually faded, apparently giving way to more cautious use of websites.

The fact that users need to display greater caution is highlighted by a global survey, “Compromised Websites: An Owner’s Perspective”, of over 600 website owners conducted between November 2011 and January 2012 by IT security company Commtouch Software Ltd. and StopBadware.

The report states that 63% of website owners “simply don’t know how their sites were compromised.” 36% of website owners who became aware of a breach of security did not know what their site was (mis)used for. Just 6% of website owners were able to detect a problem on the basis of strange or increased activity within their sites. 49% of website owners discovered that their sites were compromised from a browser warning, and 18% learned about it from colleagues or friends.

The report leads to the conclusion that website owners may be helpless in the face of hacking activity, which can threaten to harm Internet users. If website owners do not assume responsibility or show awareness of security, users of theirs sites are left exposed.

The report says that 26% of respondents said that their sites were still compromised, and 5% chose to do nothing, believing that the problem had been resolved. 2% abandoned the website instead of dealing with the problem. 46% of respondents fixed the problem themselves, and 10% called an IT expert.

The report said that 20% of respondents admitted that their failure to update website software and/or plug-ins had likely left them open to attack. 6% of respondents said that stolen credentials (user names or passwords) enabled hackers to access their websites.

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