14 Mar, 2022

Website Blacklisting - How it Can Hurt Your Website and Business

Website blacklisting has far-reaching negative consequences for your business if the problem isn't addressed. Here's how we can help you solve this problem.
Has your site ever been blacklisted? If it has, you know just what a problem website blacklisting can be for the health of your digital operations. If it hasn't, you should know it has the potential to happen if you don't have the proper website security in place.

Let's take a closer look at what website blacklisting is, how it can hurt your website and business, how Quttera helped one of our customers deal with it, and what you can do to stay away from it.
Why Website Blacklisting Can be a Major Problem for Your Website and Business
Sites that have been subject to hacking can have harmful features such as malware written into their code. To combat this potential minefield of disruptions, many search engines or web browsers have a capability known as website blacklisting. This helps keep visitors from even going to the harmful site in the first place. It's a proactive measure; rather than helping the user deal with the fallout of their visit to a harmful site, they prevent them from accessing it at all.

Website blacklisting can lead to serious consequences for a site that finds itself blocked. When a search engine identifies a site as qualifying for its blacklist, it will lose 70% of its organic traffic - at least for blacklists operated by Chrome or Firefox, two of the most popular web browsers. Anyone visiting using either of these browsers won't be able to access the blacklisted site.
That's good news for visitors looking to avoid legitimately dangerous websites. But what about business owners that are unaware their site has been compromised? The blacklisting can hurt them significantly. It can interrupt the flow of potential customers to a site, harming your site's business prospects for no good reason. Fortunately, there are tools you can use to help avoid this from happening.

Here's the story of how this very situation happened to a Quttera customer, and how we helped them minimize damage to their online business.
One of Our Customers Reported They Had Been Blacklisted
It started when one of our customers reached out to us with a problem. They said that "Google safe browsing" had blacklisted their website. All major browsers then blocked their site, generating a red alert warning every time someone attempted to visit it.

This led to an inability for new and existing visitors to access the site. Think of how harmful this could be to not just their bottom line, but also their reputation. Potential visitors could draw the following conclusions:

  • This website isn't safe, which means I can't trust this business. I don't want to do business with a company I can't trust.
  • While the site may not be affected by harmful code, there may be a security vulnerability the site owners haven't patched. The lack of attention to detail makes me think twice about buying from them.
  • I can't access the site, so I'm going to move along and visit the competitor's site.

Their website lost visitors, among whom there were certainly potential customers. As a tool for both communicating their business and conducting commerce, the website blacklisting rendered their site obsolete.

For obvious reasons, the customer wanted to mitigate the damage already done to their business and reputation. We needed to take quick action on their behalf to get to the root of the problem as well as reverse the effects. Here's what we did.
What Actions Quttera Took to Remedy the Customer's Situation
First, we conducted a thorough investigation into what could have caused the website blacklisting. Our initial investigation revealed JavaScript malware injected into the site's CMS core file. This exposed every visited page within the site. The malware added a JavaScript infection to each page.

After that, a de-obfuscated dump of the injected JavaScript code sent all visitors to a third-party traffic direction system. This only solidified the need for the site to become blacklisted by Google. Once we conducted the investigation, we discovered that the injection attack's source was a vulnerable plugin. This facilitated access and modification of the site's sources.

Following is a deobfuscated JavaScript infection injected in all website pages, which dynamically creates script DOM element loading JavaScript source code from a third-party malicious website which further redirects visitors of the blacklisted website to malicious resources:
Now that we'd identified the problem, we could make a move to address the issue and get the site back to operational. Quttera installed a server-side protection module. This action keeps the site safe, protecting it from and removing malware. Not only does this keep the site's visitors safe - which is ultimately the most important thing for the business - it also keeps site traffic flowing. The site was no longer caught up in any blacklists and could resume normal digital operations.
Without site traffic, your website won't function as an effective component of your business strategy.
You Want to Keep Your Site Safe and Off Any Website Blacklists
Luckily for our customer, we had an established partnership with them and were able to take quick and decisive action to minimize the damage. So, what can you do to help avoid becoming a blacklisted website?

Remember that any infection of a website can add you to a search engine or browser blacklist. Don't take this lightly - it can lead to an interruption in traffic and have far-reaching negative consequences for your business if you don't address the problem.

There are a few best practices every company with a website should take to ensure optimal website security, staying off of blacklists:

  • Keep your website software up to date.
  • Use the right website security services to keep your website protected, but also free from malware. Your tools and approach should be both proactive and reactive in nature - preventative to help avoid issues to begin with, but also able to quickly handle them when malware does manage to trickle through.

Having a blacklisted website translates to no search engine or browser traffic. To avoid this, partner with a trusted IT provider who can help your site's flow of business and site rankings stay intact. ThreatSign is just the tool to help you achieve this, as we make it easy to protect your site from blacklisting.

With Quttera's ThreatSign, it's easy to protect your site from blacklisting. Use ThreatSign to avoid the blacklisting of your website by search engines. If your site is already blacklisted, you can use ThreatSign to get it back into the search engine results pages.

Interested in learning more? Sign up for our ThreatSign Website Protection platform and read about how it can help your website stay safe and operational.