Website Defacement: Costs and Prevention

By Paladion

July 27, 2015


Closeup of Http Address in Web Browser in blue Website Defacement


Within 2 days of the Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) highly publicized successful event - commercially launching 5 satellites for the UK - someone decided to rain on their parade. The organization's commercial concern, Antrix, witnessed defacement of its website. While no other page was affected, the homepage was targeted. Reportedly, users logging onto the website's homepage were redirected to a completely unrelated website. Subsequently, the organization pulled down the compromised webpage. Things returned to normal the very next day.

What is Website Defacement?
Changes made to an organization's website resulting in an alteration in its visual appearance, its written content or just its overall message is known as website defacement. The intention behind such an act is usually to sabotage the company. In some instances, changes made aren't as obvious and it can take months to realize.

How Harmful Is It?
Consequences of website defacement can vary. While ISRO's case was quite simple and was fixed quickly, not all organizations get as lucky. Even though the company may not have suffered financial loss this time, it is still a scary thought to know that its website is vulnerable to online threats. Here are some consequences a company may face after its website has been attacked.

1. Losing Customers
Your visitors may be redirected to sites teeming with malicious code. They might be prompted to download malware onto their system or it downloads itself, undetected. Since they are redirected to a webpage with an address quite similar to yours, they do not suspect anything. In such cases, your regular and new visitors may be concerned about visiting your page in the future and you can potentially lose customers.

2. Impact on Pagerank and Traffic
Search engines rank your website according to a number of different factors. A higher ranking website comes up first in the results of a search query. If your defaced website is flagged or identified as causing harm to its users, a search engine such as Google might add you to its blacklist. This means that you can lose up to 95% of website traffic that could be gained from Google search results.

3. Effect on Brand Image
Internet users worry about safety during their online experiences. If they feel you have failed to establish security measures on your website, they automatically conclude that you are either completely negligent in securing your website or are extremely ignorant about information security challenges and threats. Such conclusions can be devastating for your image as a corporation.

How Do You Secure Yourself?
A company needs to outline its needs and expectations when signing up for an information security solution. In this particular case, you should look for something that promises protection from website defacement. It should be proactive and regular. There are countless data security applications and software that an organization can invest in. However, some options are obviously superior than others and have unique features.

For instance, consider Verity, a service that has been selected by SiliconIndia as 2011's 10 Most Promising Cool Products. It is a great preventive measure since it not only helps identify cases of website defacement; it also provides protection against malware. Client side installation is not required and the tool can also detect advanced malware using globally recognized databases for detecting signatures. Raising an alert before a client’s digital assets are infected or blacklisted by global vendors is the need of the hour and that is what Verity provides.

Final Word
If you haven't set up a security solution to stop the worse from happening, you've dug a hole for your organization. Nowadays, it is hard to feel sympathy for such neglectful businesses whose websites are hacked or have experienced security breaches. Do your research and invest in a solid strategy, immediately. Remember, when your company has an online presence, it becomes a responsibility. Eventually, it is bound to cost you something.

Tags: website defacement india, Best Practices, ISRO website hack