When it comes to the many problems that we hear about with the web security company SiteLock one of the most prominent is that they falsely claim that websites contain malware and then web hosts they are partnered with shut off access to the websites based on those false claims, while suggesting to their customers that they hire SiteLock to clean it up. (It is important to note that while this significant problem, you shouldn’t ignore claims coming from either SiteLock or your web host that the website contains malware or is otherwise hacked.)
There are a lot of questions that issue raises.
One being why would web hosts shut off access to their customers websites based on the word of company known to make false claims? That one is answered in part by the fact that those same web hosts make a lot of money if their customers purchase SiteLock services and by the fact that the owners of SiteLock also run a major web hosting company.
Another question being, what causes the false claims? For that, part of the answer is the SiteLock’s scanner, while labeled as a malware scanner, also tries to detect issues other than malware. That causes problems in trying to resolve real issues because people are being told that they have an issue other than they really have. Another issue with that is that they don’t seem to very careful in their detection of those other issue, so in one situation where we consulted on it looks like a website was falsely claimed to contain malware due to the phrase “hacked by” appearing on a page (we recently ran across a similar issue with the Sucuri SiteCheck scanner). Then people at SiteLock and their web hosting partners either don’t understand the quality issues with the malware scanner’s data or don’t care, leading to owners of websites falsely being told their website contain malware and having them shutdown.
A recent tweet from SiteLock shows another example of this, as they have a pretty bad idea of what constitutes malware in the database:
— SiteLock (@SiteLock) May 21, 2017
Malware refers to one of two things when it comes to websites, malicious code in general or malicious code being served to those visiting a website. Spam content itself would not be considered malware.
More problematic with that, is that if you had someone submit a comment with spam content on a WordPress website it would be stored in the database, so if you start labeling any spam keywords in the database as malware you would cause any database with spam comments, even if they were in the trash, as having malware.
That seems like a possible explain of another problem we have been hearing about recently with SiteLock, which is them claiming that backups of website’s databases contain malware.