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Concerns about Malware April 22, 2015

Posted by admin in : News , trackback

It’s been recently brought to my attention that some teachers have been expressing concerns about the possibility of picking up viruses or malware from teaching resources websites such as Primary Resources.

I can understand their concerns, particularly when high profile non-teaching websites like Jamie Oliver’s have shown the potential for malware attacks through trusted sites.

I’d like the chance to tell you about the precautions currently in place on Primary Resources in an effort to allay any fears you might have.

Primary Resources typically has over a million visitors a month and has been online for over sixteen years. Although it’s a small, free site we take security concerns very seriously.

Our website is very simple. It uses static, individually produced web pages. We don’t use a server-driven content management system that could be targeted by hackers as a way to inject their own scripts into a site.

All contributions are scanned as we receive them. We use multiple anti-virus and anti-malware programs to scan material before it is added to the web site. Our local equipment and files are scanned regularly.

Every time we do a site update we run a full site synchronisation which compares our local files with those on the server and detects if any changes have been made. We use this, as well as regular manual checks, to try to help maintain the integrity of any files on the website.

Third-party advertising can be a vulnerability for any website. We only run advertising through Google’s DfP system. Google takes malware very seriously. They work with trusted advertisers and partners to reduce the risk of malware. To quote their website, they specifically forbid fourth-party calls or sub-syndication to advertisers or vendors that they haven’t certified. In addition, all third-party ads are checked for malware when they’re initially entered into their system. Google also employs an automated malware checker that continuously scans all third-party creatives running through the network. Any ad with malware will be automatically pulled from the network to protect their partner websites and their users.

You are always at risk from malware and viruses when you are browsing the web. Gone are the days when downloads were the only major source of infection. As the incidents with Jamie Oliver’s site has shown, you can pick up malware just by visiting normal websites. We try our best here to minimise the risks of you doing so when you visit Primary Resources.

You can help reduce the threat from malware and viruses by keeping your software up-to-date. Not just your operating system (e.g. Windows) and your antivirus/web security program, but also your productivity software (e.g. MS Office) and most importantly your web browser and any related software such as Java or Flash. Malware attacks frequently use vulnerabilities in web browsers to infect computers. By keeping your browser patched with the latest security fixes you can greatly reduce the risk of infection.

As I mentioned previously, we do take this matter very seriously. If you do experience any issues that you think are related to our site then please contact us and I will look into them thoroughly. We hope you agree that we are currently taking reasonable and extensive precautions to help prevent malware and viruses being an issue for our site.

Thank you for using Primary Resources. We hope you continue to find the site and the resources shared on it useful.