Some browsers have a safe browsing feature, that detects the hacked websites and blacklists them. Google Chrome is one of those browsers. It pushes forward warning messages to warn the website visitors of the possible hacks. If your website is showing an angry red message for your customers stating “Deceptive site ahead”, there might be a hack on your website. Through this warning removal guide, we will discuss in detail why it appears and ways to fix it.
Source: Astra Security
Causes of Deceptive site ahead warning
Google does not show warning messages immediately when a website is hacked. It takes almost 3-4 weeks for the detection and ultimately blacklisting of the website. After this, the site starts to display a message to warn customers and owners of the hack. Some of the top causes of receiving a warning message:
Malware is one of the topmost reasons for the appearance of the deceptive site ahead warning. It is a software designed with the intent to attack a website. There are several reasons through which a website can get infected with malware. Some of them are Cross-site scripting attack, SQL Injection attack or CSRF attack, etc. performed by an attacker.
Using an infected device to upload a file can also be fatal for your website. If your device is infected with malware then it is highly probable that your files will be infected too. This in turn increases the chances of malware infection of your website.
Through phishing, an illegitimate link disguises itself as a legitimate link in order to trick the user into entering payment and personal details. It is a twisted way to extract information from the users by tricking them. Phishing can also lead to the appearance of the deceptive site ahead warning. It can be executed in several ways. Some of them are:
- Sending links to trick them into adding card details, emails, addresses, etc.
- Giving away the information of password and username without any prior knowledge.
Themes and plugins vulnerability
It is common that plugins and themes will develop some vulnerabilities with time. This is why with every version, a security patch is also released. But sometimes hackers discover these vulnerabilities before developers. Thus enabling them to manipulate these vulnerabilities to their profit. After the discovery, hackers exploit these vulnerabilities in sites and infect these sites with malware or backdoors – which can also lead to this ‘deceptive site ahead’ warning for that infected site.
Ways to fix Deceptive site ahead warning message
Fixing the warning message “Deceptive site ahead” is not a difficult task if you follow the necessary steps. However, it requires a multi-fold approach. Since Google doesn’t share much to work with, therefore either you have to remove each possibility one by one or hire a security expert. Take a look at the list below:
- Use Google Search Console to maintain the search settings of your website.
- Select Security Issues from the left-sidebar.
- Read the reasons listed there about why your website is blacklisted and copy the URLs that are malicious in nature.
- Take a backup of your website in order to restore it at any time.
- Scan your website for hidden malware by using an online malware scanner.
- To double-check the findings of a malware scanner, you can manually go through some recommended files such as index.php file, header & footer files, core theme files, .htaccess, etc.
- Get rid of third-party scripts or ads.
After performing the above-mentioned steps, the next step is submitting a review request for blacklist removal. But before submitting the request, make sure that the following things are in place:
- Your website is free of any malware or infected files.
- There are no hidden vulnerabilities left, and existing ones are patched.
- Your website is running.
- You have protected your website with a trusted firewall.
After ensuring that you have completed the given steps, log in to Google Search Console. Then select the security issues report from the sidebar. Select Request review, and fill in the required information, then submit your request. Do not forget to mention the steps you took to eliminate the malware.
Avoid receiving “Deceptive site ahead” warning message by following these tips
You must have heard the saying ‘Prevention is better than cure’. It is always better to take prevention steps to stop a possible hack than to deal with the aftermath of the hack. As you can see the removal of the warning message is quite technical. To avoid going through a hectic task of fixing your website, follow these steps to secure your website:
- Keep your website updated: The best way to secure your website is by keeping core files updated to the latest version. The same goes for plugins and themes. With updates, you will be benefited from additional security features and improvements.
- Install a security plugin: A Plugin will automatically scan your website for malware and will put up a firewall to defend against a hack.
- Remove inactive themes and plugins: Inactive themes and plugins are usually the main targets of hackers to inject malicious codes. Hence, make sure to get rid of inactive themes and plugins.
- Change your password regularly: The passwords should be changed regularly and should be unique in nature. Avoid the use of common passwords like name, pet name, etc. It is recommended to use a computer-generated password because of its complexity.
- Use a rock-solid firewall: A firewall will monitor your website 24*7. It will also protect your website against XSS, CSRF, SQLi, bad bots, and other security threats.
Receiving a warning message from Google stating “Deceptive site ahead” is definitely not a good sign. We hope that you found the above-mentioned steps found useful in preventing and fixing these messages. For further questions, you can drop by some comments and we will help you resolve them.