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"Your website has been hacked” – Finding out how website owners were informed about security vulnerabilities on their websites

Informationen zur Arbeit

Abschlussarbeitstyp: Bachelor
Betreuer: Anne Hennig
Forschungsgruppe: Security • Usability • Society

Archivierungsnummer: 4561/enDer Datenwert „/en“ kann einem Attribut des Datentyps Zahl nicht zugeordnet werden sondern bspw. der Datenwert „4561“.
Abschlussarbeitsstatus: unbekannt
Beginn: 15. Februar 2022
Abgabe: unbekannt

Weitere Informationen

Background Nowadays, running a business without having a website is nearly impossible because information about goods and services are mainly retrieved from online resources. Content management systems (CMS) provide default features that make it easy even for laypersons to create and maintain sophisticated websites. But CMSs also pose a security risk. Not only can the CMS's frameworks themselves contain vulnerabilities. Also, there is a vast number of plugins and templates that may introduce vulnerabilities. Those vulnerabilities can be used to induce several attacks. A specific attack aims at the search results of the original website. In case of search engine Spam (SEO Spam) or Pharma Hacks, an attacker deploys code on a website to redirect to fake web shops. The manipulation is not visible on the genuine website, but in the search engine results. These sites appear as shops selling illegal or banned drugs and medicines, luxurious brand-name clothing, or expensive appliances for cheap. Often, the malicious code is hidden within the CSS files of a website and cannot be easi-ly found - even by skilled developers.

Objectives We used web crawling results to identify German website owners that were affected by a Pharma Hack or a related SEO spam. With the help of our project partners, we already informed some website owners about the manipulation. But during the course of the project, we also identified several website owners who closed the vulnerability on their own. The aim of this thesis will be to find out, how those website owners got aware of the manipulation. If they were notified by a third party, we would also like to know how and by whom they were notified and what their feelings were with respect to the notification. To answer these questions, a survey needs to be designed. The survey will then be sent to a list of website owners who closed the vulnerability on their own. The study should be run as an online survey using for example SosciSurvey.

Important information Please visit for our thesis guide and more information on our procedure. The thesis can be in English or German. The survey must be in German and can additionally be in English.

Ausschreibung: Download (pdf)