When it comes to cleaning up hacked websites, we are frequently brought in to re-clean websites after another company has previously been brought in and then the website gets hacked again. While it is not always the other company’s fault, what we have found is that almost always it involves a situation where the other company unintentionally or intentionally cut corners with the cleanup.
There are three basic components of a proper cleanup: removing the malicious content, getting the website secure as possible, and trying to determine how the website was hacked. We frequently see that only the first item, removing the malicious content, is done. That can leave the website open to being hacked again (and skipping over trying to determine how the website was hacked can also lead to not finding some of the malicious content that needs to be removed).
All of that brings us to the SiteLock 911 service that GoDaddy offers in conjunction with SiteLock. From what we have seen being brought to get things properly cleaned after this service has been used, corners are cut, leaving websites vulnerable. What isn’t clear if you were to look at the description of the service, is that is the case, so let’s take a closer at how the service is presented.
In describing how the service works they make it sounds like all of the components are happening:
Next we remove every bit of malware from your code. We also close security gaps and the backdoors that hackers use to break into your site.
There are a couple of fairly glaring issues with that. First backdoors would normally not be how hackers break into the website; instead backdoors are placed on the website through a vulnerability and then used to take further actions. If you remove the backdoor, but don’t fix the vulnerability it can just be placed there again. The other problem is that all of that fixing is supposed to happen with files that they copied of off the server and then placed back on the server, but that wouldn’t actually be how you would do much of the securing or determining the source of the hack. The securing usually involves getting the software up to date, which wouldn’t be done by just copying files (and based on what we have seen, isn’t something they do). The determining of the source involves reviewing the log files, which are stored separately on GoDaddy’ servers or in the case at least one type of account are not even stored.
In the FAQ, there is a rather odd answer to the question “Is the cleanup permanent?”:
Unfortunately, no. If the hacker automated the attack, it could keep happening. And SiteLock911 doesn’t protect against future attacks, so your site could get infected again. We offer preventive SiteLock plans with daily scans to keep your website malware-free.
This doesn’t really make any sense, as most hacks are automated and whether it could happen again depends on if the vulnerability that was exploited has been fixed. This answer alone should be a good indication that neither of the companies involved with this service have any idea about the basics of hacked websites (this isn’t the first time we have seen that coming from SiteLock). (The preventative SiteLock plans don’t actually do much, if anything, to protect websites from being hacked either.)
Another FAQ is also rather odd. In response to the question “Is it guaranteed to work?” it is stated that:
SiteLock911 malware cleaner handles most websites with ease but with new malware appearing all the time, there are no guarantees. If you happen to be afflicted with a brand new infection or hack, SiteLock will work with you to make sure your website is restored.
Whether the malware is new or old shouldn’t have any impact on being able to restore a website, instead the only limitation in the ability for a cleanup to restore a website to its previous form is if the hacker has removed or damage files or other content from the website. You can’t restore something that doesn’t exist, so either there would need to be another way to get a copy of the files/content or you can’t restore it. Something being new shouldn’t make a difference.
This seems like it may be a cover for SiteLock’s ongoing issues with damaging websites that they are supposed to be cleaning up at GoDaddy. That seems to be a fairly common issue based on the complaints we have seen on the web and the times we have been brought in to fix things up after them. While we frequently are brought in to re-clean websites after other companies have done a poor job, SiteLock is the only one where we have seen other company leaving behind broken websites. That is one of the many reasons we say that they are by far the worst company in the field.A Better Alternative to SiteLock
If your web host is pushing you to hire SiteLock to clean up a hacked website, we provide a better alternative, where we actually properly clean up the website if it is truly hacked or if isn't we will help you to get the issue resolved for free.
Before you do anything else though, you should check out our post on what you should know when you get contacted by or about SiteLock.