Recently we heard that one of our contacts had had their website cloned. It was very odd as the website was an exact copy of theirs with the exception of the logo (most likely taken from elsewhere), the new business’s name was swapped, the address changed (postcode showed an industrial estate) and the telephone number was slightly different and went to a Vodafone temporary holding number. So, why would someone clone your website and what can you do to take it down?
What is Website Cloning?
Website cloning is a practice where a person or a group of individuals create a copy of an existing website, with the intention of either mimicking the original site or using it for malicious purposes. This unethical practice has become increasingly prevalent in recent years, as more and more businesses are moving their operations online.
The Risks of Website Cloning
Website cloning can pose a significant threat to businesses, as it can lead to a range of harmful outcomes. For instance, a cloned website can be used to steal sensitive customer data, such as login credentials, payment information, and other personal details. Cloned websites can also be used to spread malware, phishing attacks, or other forms of cybercrime. In addition, cloned websites can damage a company’s reputation and customer trust, as customers may mistake the fake site for the real one and end up losing money or exposing themselves to fraud.
How To Protect Your Business Against Website Cloning
Fortunately, there are several steps businesses can take to protect themselves against website cloning. Here are some tips:
- Monitor your website’s activity regularly: By keeping a close eye on your website’s traffic and engagement, you can quickly spot any unusual activity that might indicate a cloned site is being used. Regular monitoring can help you take action before significant damage is done.
- Use website security tools: Implementing security tools like firewalls, antivirus software, and intrusion detection systems can help prevent unauthorised access to your website and protect it from cyber attacks.
- Educate your customers: Educate your customers about the dangers of website cloning and how to spot a fake website. Encourage them to look for signs of authenticity, such as a secure HTTPS connection, a recognisable domain name, and other trust signals.
- Secure your domain name: Register your domain name with a trusted registrar and ensure that it is renewed on time. This can help prevent cybercriminals from hijacking your domain name and using it for malicious purposes.
- Implement two-factor authentication: Require two-factor authentication for all login attempts to your website. This can help prevent unauthorised access to your site and ensure that only authorised users can access sensitive information.
What To Do If Your Website is Cloned
In the unfortunate event that your website is closed then make sure you do the following:
- Contact your webhost so they can monitor for suspicious activity.
- Contact Google and provide a list of URLs of the cloned site so that these can be taken down.
- Use https://who.is/ to find out who hosts the website / owns the web domain and you can then report the website via their abuse email address.
- Change the login password to your own website.
In conclusion, website cloning is a serious threat that can harm businesses and their customers. However, by taking proactive steps to monitor your website’s activity, use security tools, educate your customers, secure your domain name, and implement two-factor authentication, you can protect your business against this dangerous practice. By staying vigilant and taking action when necessary, you can keep your website and your customers safe from harm.