There is perhaps no worse experience than when someone notifies you that your website has been blacklisted. The more frustrating aspect of this entire process is often associated with the lack of understanding of what this really means. To begin, though, it’s important to better understand what it means to be blacklisted and who can blacklist you.
Here is a quick list of the various Website Blacklist entities out there focused on identifying website threats:
- Google Blacklist
- Bing Blacklist
- Norton Safe Browsing
- Phish Tank
- AVG via Opera Browser
- McAfee Advisor
- SpamHaus Domain Block List (DBL)
- Yandex (vis Sophos)
As you can see, answering the WHO when it comes to Website Blacklists can be a fairly extensive process. The list is long, and even this one, although comprehensive, is not complete. This is further compounded by blacklists that are not web focused, but specific to end-points (i.e., your notebooks, desktops, servers, etc..).
Another very serious and realistic scenario is that your website has been blacklisted by an AntiVirus products like:
Whether you are blacklisted by an online authority or a desktop authority, either have the means of causing a catastrophic impact to your business. This impact comes in two forms (1) Brand Reputation and (2) Lost Revenue, but if handled correctly and in a timely manner most cases can be addressed in 24 hours or less. This is one of many skills we specialize in here at Sucuri.
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What Does a Website Blacklist Mean?
In any of these situations, the desktop AntiVirus is looking for malware (i.e., payloads) that are triggering an event at the “end-point” (i.e., your machine). This is often in the form of a drive-by-download and other similar events.
When a trigger occurs, the AV flags the domain and pushes it through it’s network. This means if anyone is using a specific product, and if it’s been flagged, the website visitor will be blocked from accessing the website.
How Did my Website Get Blacklisted?
This is the million dollar question, and, unfortunately, one that is not easily answered. What we can say is that there are often key characteristics shared across the entire spectrum that often lead to any one authority to blacklist your website.
Here are some common characteristics shared by websites that have been blacklisted:
- Website is redirecting to a porn site, auto loan site, or some other variation
- Website is showing as possibly compromised on Google, Bing or any other number of search engines
- Your host has shut your website down or notified you that you are infected
- You see pharmaceutical references or any other unintentional reference on your website
- You see bank directories on your server (i.e., Bank of Toronto, Chase, WellsFargo, etc..) and you didn’t put them there
- Clients are complaining that desktop AV’s are blocking your website (i.e, McAfee, AVG, Microsoft, etc..)
- You see administrators or users in your website that you didn’t create or authorize
- Your website is flagged as part of a Phishing Lure campaign
What many don’t realize is that a lot of these authorities leverage each others networks. This means if one sees something it propagates through the entire network so it’s important you get to the source and engage with the original blacklisting authority. Whether you’re already blacklisted or are looking at keeping your site from being blacklisted, we can help you regardless of your CMS (ex: WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc.) or hosting provider (ex: GoDaddy, Bluehost, Media Temple, etc.)