How to Prevent Malware Attacks on Singapore Websites

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Websites have always been endangered to malware attacks. They usually cause significant damage to the content on your site as well as expose your data to hackers. Malware development is happening each day, consisting of newer, advanced, and updated features to outdo the supposed security developments. Therefore, securing your website is essential as it keeps it away from these attacks.

To what extent can a malware cause damage to your website? Well, despite exposure and alteration of your data, there are several other detriments associated with the intrusion of malware in your website. First of all, a malicious attack could redirect users visiting your site to other sites which may be threatening. Such an occurrence may drive away your existing customers, who might lose trust in your services due to the wrong impression created. Also, your site containing spam content after getting infected could spread malware to another site. The dispersion of the malware could lead to a reduced SEO for your site. Ultimately, Google deburrs several websites on the internet every day, and you could be a victim as well.

Malware attacks attained through hacking aims at different things, some of which include:

  1. Some hackers will upload a malware in your website to have access to the content in them. They might be interested in that specific info, or they just want to obliterate it.
  2. Phishing, whereby a hacker sends messages and emails to random people about a fake product or service using your account.
  3. Sometimes hackers will upload malware to random websites just to cause their downfall without any specified reason.

In Singapore, there are several reports of attacked websites mostly belonging to relatively small business owners. In 2017, reports showed that there were over 2, 000 websites attacks while phishing based on Singaporean accounts were over 23, 000 cases. With such worrying statistics, there is a need for website owners to uphold website security.

Here are some tips to guide you through ways to prevent malware attacks on your website.

  1. Create and secure passwords

One of the most common ways of guarding your website is through the creation of protective passwords. A password is essential as it blocks any unauthorized access to your site server. The password you choose should not be too suggestive. To avoid that, you need to create a password that contains a combination of letters both in lower and upper case plus numbers. It should include not a few characters, but at least more than six of them will reduce the chances of revelation.

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You should as well update or modify the password regularly. Then avoid using one password in different online platforms. A well-structured password will keep away Brute Force attacks, attackers who severally guess your password in an attempt to get it right, from your site.

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  1. Install a Site Shield

The other effective method of enhancing website security is by the help of a Site Shield. When you install the Site Shield, it will automatically check for any threat intrusions and issues regularly then it alerts you of any presence. It restricts hackers from accessing the origin of the site while ensuring extensive protection of any cloud-based information. Only through the site shield servers that you can access the origin which is only possible to you as the website owner. By restricting and observing all server accesses, it reduces the chances of hackers’ entry.

On the other hand, when you protect your site using a Site Shield, your clients and internet users will be aware of the site’s security. It usually displays a Site Shield icon beside it thereby visitors will feel safe when entering the site.

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  1. Create a Secure Sockets Layer

As a form of data encryption, creating a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate can significantly help in securing any data sharing through your website. SSLs usually provide secured sessions between the clients and the server. It means that there are reduced chances of data and information disclosure thus increased safety.

Creating an SSL certificate requires you to deliver a certificate signing request which activates a public and a private key on the server of your site. Then you send a file attaching the public key to the certificate providers. The providers will provide the certificates based on your private key but they still never interfere with the key at all. After you install the SSL certificate, the domain of your site will change to HTTPS which denotes data encryption where hackers will hardly get access to such data.

  1. Use website firewalls

Firewalls are also a perfect way to ward off your websites from malware attacks. Unlike several shielding plugins that will only check and notify you of a threatening issue, a firewall will block as well as removing any malware that might have found its way into your site.

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A firewall works in such a way that it analyzes any request to access your site, determines the source of the request as well as evaluate the behavior of the resultant traffic. That way, it identifies the request as either malicious or secure, blocking the malicious entry attempt while only permitting the requests identified as safe. Site firewalls also have scanning functions where they check for any malicious behavior already inside the site, therefore offering incredible security.

  1. Regular website updates

Every day, at every instance, new viruses are being released to the internet. These new ones tend to have updated features and hence might surpass the strategies you have applied to secure your site. In most cases, a website hosted by CMS systems, such as WordPress, is usually at risk since the development of plugins and security definitions are distinct from the website development processes. That leaves your site exposed to newly upgraded malware.

To avoid attacks based on newer versions, you need to regularly update your site, in regards to its constituent features. Plugins should always be up to date to consequently enhance your security system. Several host sites will allow for automatic updates of the features; hence all you have to do is find the button for the update in the options menu and click on it.

  1. Conform to PCI terms

If your website handles transactions through various methods including the use of credit cards, then you need a unique security system. Payment Card Industry (PCI) provides Data Security Standards for protection of your data that involves transaction through credit cards. Once you comply with the set requirements, you will have safeguarded your data from attackers who might threaten financial transactions. Financial attacks do not only result in lost money but also affects your website’s lead conversion by destroying your reputation.

Acquiring your PCI policies for your website is simple. You might do it yourself though, with the help of a professional assessor, the process might be more effective. The process involves identification of the card holder’s location information and thence patching all exposures to ensure information of the customers’ card does not remain on your website after a transaction. After you have achieved that, you can present the data to the bank you have registered with, and they will permit you to conduct online transactions through them.

  1. Backup your data

Despite having a secured website and reliable malware prevention strategies, an attack attempt might have adverse effects on your data. Even though the shield plugins you have installed detects and removes any malware that might have found its way, data might still be lost during the process. To prevent the loss, backing up your data is essential; hence you should perform back up operations regularly.

  1. Use complex database prefixes

Primarily, for a program or software to efficiently run on a SQL database, a prefix is usually used while performing the installation. There are basic prefixes provided by various website hosts or Content Management Systems that are simple to comprehend and use. However, these merely structured prefixes are usually easy to detect by online robots thus risking to hackers. A relatively more complex prefix might prevent detection by bots performing an initial query. Even though it might offer protection, it should not be the only security plan you entirely rely on for protection as more determined hackers can still break through. Complex prefixes act as supplements to whatever strategy you have applied for securing your website.

  1. Secure your File Folder Permissions (FTP)

Usually, File Folder Permissions contain an identification number alongside them. The figure comprises three digits displaying the access permissions granted to the users. So, how does the figure permit access? Well, each digit in the numbers ranges from 0 to 7 where 0 denotes allowed, while 7 indicates denied access. Therefore, if the figures read 000, then it means that there are limited to access while 777 would show full access authority. Exposed File Folder Permissions can be a route for malware entry to your website.

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You need to secure your FTPs thereby and ensure that those you grant access are trustworthy. Otherwise, you should not leave your files exposed to treacherous people. You can regularly evaluate these folders from time to time to determine whether anyone apart from the allowed ones have gained access to them.

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  1. Enable CSP in your website

The other common type of malicious attack in websites is the Cross Site Scripting (XSS). It transpires through a hacker uploads JavaScript codes into your site. When the code/s find its way, it runs thereby acquiring information either directly from the site or the visitors of your website. It can happen in such a way that the hacker enters your unprotected page and leaves a comment containing the harmful codes. After that, when visitors come and click on the comment section, they get infected too. The attacker then takes control of the viewer’s accounts where they can manipulate it as they want.

To protect your website from the XSS attack, you need to enable Content Security Policy (CSP) which protects your site from this form of attack. It distinguishes between the legitimate and harmful codes that attempt to gain access to your site hence blocking the harmful ones. A proper HTTP header is added on your website aiding in differentiation.

  1. Regulate file uploads

Allowing several users to upload files on your website might seem like a way of facilitating interaction and loyalty. However, it comes with its detriments as it may pose a risk of harmful files upload. The files might be from a source you presume to be trustworthy, but considering the effects, it may bring about if it is not, then you might be compelled to restrict such uploads. Images are the only type of files that you least expect to carry with them malicious codes. However, some hackers will have a way of coding a script, so it appears to the security systems in your site as an image. Therefore, you should consider any file to your site as harmful.

Restricting file uploads to your site involves various processes. First of all, a website will contain a filter mechanism where you can specify the type of files to allow and prohibit for upload. For instance, you can specify jpg and PNP as the only file formats to your site. However, the mechanism is not entirely reliable as hackers might alter the format title of other files.

You can as well prevent direct upload of files to your website. Usually, you achieve that by creating a private folder that is located outside the Webroot where any new file upload is initially stored. After that, you can generate a code that acquires the files from the folder based on the identified format. It means that you can specify the type of files you only want to move from the private folder to the webpage. You should also consider using secure routes for data upload to your site. Some of them include Secure Shell and Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP).


Learning how to keep your site protected from malware attacks is a crucial step towards attaining a high level of cyber security. Crimes over the internet are on the rise with several hackers emerging in Singapore and other regions in the world. Unlike in the past where hackers had a specific motive with their malware uploads where they would only target particular websites, nowadays hackers will attack your site for the sake of causing a distraction. Therefore, you should never term yourself as totally safe from these malicious damages. Ensure that you take action towards enhancing security for your site and the information provided in this article will help you achieve safety.

About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.


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