Nobody wants to see an unwelcoming message such as “This website may harm your computer” or “Danger: malware ahead!”. It is unsettling to see your homepage defaced like this. However, unfortunately, an average of 30,000 new web pages get infected every day according to a SophosLabs Security Threat Report.
The cost of a hacked website goes beyond money and can harm a company or an innocent web server in a big way. The tangible harms include the long hours that you alone or your organization’s IT team spend on the investigation and solution of the problem as your business comes to a grinding halt, the administrative costs and the time spent in communication, the fee that you pay to repair the damage; which obviously takes away time and finances from other essential business growth-related needs, and the investment in future prevention of such attacks.
For many of us, it is difficult to even think of the number of customers we would lose, including damage to retail transactions, visits, downloads, and conversations that add to the revenue stream, if our site was down during the peak hours for even a few days. You could even completely get locked out and lose access to your site, and your hosting company could also shut you down if your site is infected.
Furthermore, although you may not pay in cash for some other indirect costs, they are inevitable. For example, data loss, loss of trust of the present and future customers, unwanted stress owing to the damages caused by site downtime, customers and site visitors being redirected to websites and pages that you never want to be associated with, leakage of confidential and sensitive information to serve malicious purposes, and downgrading of your SEO and rankings as your brand takes a hit.
Moreover, you will face a whole new level of backlash if Google finds out and labels your site as being harmful or hacked. Basically, once this happens, whoever visits your website will be warned to stay away from your site, and even after it is cleaned up, it would take one to two weeks for Google to update its indexing in order to change this status for your website. As per the Search Engine Land post, 12 to 14 million search queries each day return warnings and alerts that at least one amongst the Google search results are compromised. In addition, approximately 9,500 new malicious websites are found by Google and it sends thousands of notifications to webmasters daily.
Such costs are impossible to put a figure on in terms of damage done as the result of a website hack.
As a precaution, it would do no harm to invest a little in technical expertise and regular website management and support plan, along with creating regular clean backups of your website that can come in handy when required.