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How to Recognize Web Abuse And What To Do About It

Different web hosting services may inadvertently find themselves providing service to entities that are engaged in web abuse. The concept of web abuse covers many different topics and can range anywhere from cyberbullying to committing fraud and spreading malware. The internet exists in all our lives to varying degrees. Today, we are constantly plugged in. The more exposure people have to the internet, the higher the likelihood that one may encounter web abuse in some form or another.

Here are just a few different types of web abuse, how to identify them, and how to report them. 

Cyberbullying

This form of abuse can lead to serious consequences for the parties involved. As people have increased access to the internet, especially students, the opportunities for cyberbullying increase. This form of abuse is more commonly seen on social media websites or any other platforms in which people may interact with one another, such as online video games.

According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, 73% of students said they experienced bullying in 2020. Additionally, four out of five students stated they experienced cyberbullying in some form. Two-thirds of these students stated that the bullying made them struggle in school.

It is clear that cyberbullying has a significant impact on those who endure it. If you see something that you suspect may be cyberbullying, it should be reported to the web hosting service, an administrator of the site, or the appropriate authority, depending on the platform and severity of the cyberbullying. Also, be aware of sites that are designed specifically for spreading derogatory information about or pictures of individuals. 

Phishing

Phishing is a method of surreptitiously acquiring a person’s private information. This can be done through a few methods. A person can create a fraudulent website that poses as legitimate while requesting a person’s details. Another method can be seen through social media or emails. A person will email or message a victim and inquire for their details. These details usually involve passwords, credit/debit card information, names, dates of birth, and other identifying factors that can be used by fraudsters. 

Unfortunately, the elderly are a common target of phishing. If you notice a friend or loved one who is talking about someone they met online and how they are sharing information with them, there is a possibility they may be a victim of phishing. In addition, be on the lookout for people who are requesting funds via Western Union or cryptocurrency. It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to successfully track down a fraudster who uses those methods of currency transfer. 

Some phishers create websites that pose as “official” well-known companies such as Google or Apple. On these websites they will indicate to a viewer that they have supposedly lost access to their account and must input their information on this false website. On the other side of the website, the phisher will receive that login information.

If you notice a suspicious website that is asking for information or is obviously posing as something else, you should contact the web hosting service to report what you see.

Malware

A malware website is one that attempts to install malicious software onto a browser’s computer. This malicious software is usually used to disable their computer system or to acquire information. For particularly malicious hackers, malware can even be used to take full control of a computer system. 

One example of a recent malware cyberattack happened at the University of Vermont’s Health Network. The computer system for the entire hospital network was shut down and hackers demanded a payment in cryptocurrency. This can also be referred to as “ransomware,” in which a computer system is essentially held hostage until a ransom is paid off. 

Malware can be uploaded to legitimate and well-meaning websites without the domain owner’s knowledge. Some tactics that hackers use are through phishing, misdirection, SQL injections, or DDOS attacks. If you are a website owner and notice changes to your domain, you should immediately contact your web hosting services.

Some changes to be on the lookout for are account/password changes that you did not request, changes to the content of your website, unexplained decrease in traffic to your website, changes to search engine results, and bugs/glitches on your page. 

You can also take the time to review your code and files that support your domain. This can involve different levels of effort and time, based on the complexity of the files and severity of the threat. Depending on the nature of the cyberattack, there are often typical codes or syntax that a hacker may use. If you identify any of these codes or syntax, contact the security team at your web hosting service. 

SQL Injections

These attacks are one of the more common methods of installing ransomware. This tactic allows a hacker to interfere with the data that is input on a website or other application. These can be uploaded using the above-mentioned tactics onto under-protected websites and applications. It involves the hacker uploading code that will allow them to interfere with data entry fields.

If you notice signs of an SQL injection after running a malware scanner or see changes to your website code, you should contact your web hosting services.

SolarVPS and Security

As software and the internet continues to evolve, so too do the threats presented by cybercriminals. In order to successfully avoid cyberattacks, you must continuously monitor your software and domain while regularly updating the systems as well. If you notice other websites being used for malicious purposes, you should consider contacting the web hosting service regarding the abuse. 

At SolarVPS, we strive to keep our customers and their domains safe and secure. Our dedicated IT team will be able to support you and reduce downtime of your domain in the event of a cyberattack. If you notice your website or another website has been compromised, contact our security team at abuse@solarvps.com

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