We spend every day online: conducting business, browsing Facebook, searching for new information. It’s become so commonplace that we often forget just how dangerous the internet can be for users.
While there are countless legitimate websites out there with effective cybersecurity measures in place, there are also many malicious websites that are created solely to cause harm.
Hackers are working 24 hours a day to try to exploit vulnerabilities or dupe users into giving them access to their personal information—and it’s shockingly effective.
Sure, there are best practices that everyone can and should follow to avoid this situation, including not clicking on unfamiliar links or downloading anything from someone you don’t trust. But, hackers are far more sophisticated now than they were in the year 2000. They can infect your computer without you even clicking on anything.
What is a Malicious Website?
We visit various websites daily and it is important to know which sites are secure. A malicious website is a site created to steal data from users. These dangerous sites typically resemble legitimate websites, and your computer can be attacked by simply visiting a malicious website. You may be prompted to download software that your computer appears to need. A hazardous installation can compromise your machine, and your sensitive information as well.
What Happens If I Visit a Malicious Website?
Here are a few things that can happen when you unknowingly visit a malicious website.
- A drive-by-download can do all the damage that an untrusted download can do, with one important detail: it doesn’t wait for your permission. When you click on an untrusted download, you are giving explicit permission for the program to install itself on your machine. But drive-by-downloads bypass all of that and install themselves onto your computer without asking for your permission. Hackers can install software onto sites that watch for vulnerabilities and pounce on them as soon as possible – leading to drive-by-downloads to your PC.
- Another widespread phenomenon is malvertising, which is a form of hacking where an ad – one of any of the billions of ads that are online today – is hijacked. The hacker then uses that ad’s network to spread it even farther. You don’t notice that this one particular ad is hijacked, and you might click on it. Before you know it, you’ve installed malicious software on your computer and spread it to others.
- URL injections are simple but effective. Targeting a platform like Wordpress (which powers 60% of today’s blogs), hackers embed malicious URLs into a web page – sometimes even taking over entire pages. Once you visit a page like this from your web browser, code is executed on your PC that redirects you to other malicious sites, downloads malware to your computer, or scrapes personal information from you. This is also done with malicious redirects and browser hijackers, both of which will force you to visit other malware-infected sites.
It doesn’t stop there: phishing websites often set themselves up to appear like credible sites, such as Amazon or eBay, where you would normally enter your credit card information. It’s another powerfully convincing way to get you to share your data.
All of The Side Effects Have One Thing in Common: Your Data
No matter the method, all these hacking methods installed on malicious websites are focused on getting you to expose your data. That could be personal data or financial information.
Regardless, these cybercriminals are trying to steal from you for their own financial benefit. That’s why it is extremely important to take your browsing safety seriously.
Not only that, but if you are a website owner, you need to take the security of your users into your hands. Your own website might be a malicious one through no act or fault of your own.
To prevent this from happening, or to stop it before it spirals out of control, a good security system like SiteLock Website Security can offer round-the-clock protection against attacks on your website and its users, so that you can do your part to provide a safe browsing experience on today’s internet.