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General Questions

Q: What is this site for?
A: Unmask Parasites is a simple online web site security service that helps reveal _hidden_illicit content (parasites) that hackers insert into benign web pages using various security holes.
Q: What parasites are you talking about?

A: Wikipedia defines Parasitism as a "type of symbiotic relationship between organisms of different species in which one, the parasite, benefits from a prolonged, close association with the other, the host, which is harmed."

Hackers exploit security vulnerabilities of web software (blogs, forums, CMS, image galleries, wikis and e-commerce solutions) to insert hidden illicit content into web pages of innocent third-party web sites.

Most times this technique is used by spammers who insert hundreds of hidden links to web sites advertising medications, cheap loans and porn.

Another example of hidden malicious content is code that redirects visitors who click on your site's search results in Google to completely different web sites owned by spammers. This sort of exploit is difficult to detect by site owners, because the malicious code redirects only first time visitors.

What all these techniques have in common is that they parasitize benign web sites in order to take advantage of their search engine ranking, visitors, and site hosting, which is paid for by their victims - unaware web site owners.

Read my Introduction to Website Parasites

Q: Why should I worry if only computer programs can see the parasites?
A: The fact that you don't see them doesn't make them less harmful.
  • Parasites steal your site visitors, redirecting them to other sites
  • They make your site less responsive.
  • They steal your bandwidth.
  • Hidden links are rightfully considered as spam by Google. It's just a matter of time before your site is removed from Google's index, and your AdSense account is blocked.
  • The mere fact that hackers managed to incorporate their code into your web pages means that they can use your site for all sorts of illegal activities - from sending spam e-mails to attacking other web sites - and you will be liable for the damages incurred by such malicious activities, or will have to prove that your site was hijacked by hackers, and you are not one of them.
  • Any private information stored on your web server (such as passwords, client data, etc) is now exposed to hackers.
  • Even if the parasites are left unnoticed and search engines don't ban your site, every time you pay for your hosting, you are sponsoring spammers since you are sharing your site with them. Just think about it.
Q: What are the symptoms?
A: Parasites do their best to remain unnoticed. However there are various symptoms that can tell you you should check your web pages.
  • Your website is less responsive. It takes longer to load web pages.
  • You see a sudden decrease of visits from search engines.
  • People find your site in search engines using completely irrelevant search terms.
  • Your site, or some particular web pages, has been removed from search engines.
  • Your AdSense account is blocked or your AdWords campaign is suspended
Q: My web site is fast, my AdSense account is active and I didn't notice any changes in search engine ranking. Does this mean my site is parasite-free?
A: I hope you are right. But unless you check the HTML code of your web pages and files on server you cannot be sure. Use the Unmask Parasites service to reveal suspicious content hidden inside your pages.
Q: What are the risk factors?
A: Major risk factors are outdated versions of popular web scripts used on your website. I.e. CMS, blogs, forums, image galleries, e-commerce scripts. Always upgrade to the latest version when it is available.

Another threat is site templates and themes from unreliable sources. They may incorporate pre-built hidden links and even trojan scripts.

Q: My site is very small. Is it true that hackers only break into large sites?
A: No. Hackers are interested in all sites. No site is too small or too large for them.
Q: Who are you?
A: I'm a software developer and blogger who hates spam and wants to keep his own blog secure.

See also: Usage Questions

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