When a hacker targets a system, they will usually use a tactic called reconnaissance to gather as much information as possible about the victim. Some hackers will use programs to download your website to search and view it offline. It is amazing how much information can be gleaned from some websites. Documents, contact information, even file structure, and exploitable directories are some targets of interest.
Many companies are more security conscious now and monitor what they put up on their websites. But, what if there was a complete copy of your website available from a year ago, or even 10 years ago? Enter Archive.org’s Wayback machine. Archive.org creates a backup copy of your website and saves it in archive form. Many websites can be viewed from years in the past all the way back to 1996. Want to read CNN or Foxnews news from 2000? You can find it on Archive.org. According to their website:
The Internet Archive is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was founded to build an Internet library. Its purposes include offering permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format. Founded in 1996 and located in San Francisco, the Archive has been receiving data donations from Alexa Internet and others. In late 1999, the organization started to grow to include more well-rounded collections. Now the Internet Archive includes texts, audio, moving images, and software as well as archived web pages in our collections, and provides specialized services for adaptive reading and information access for the blind and other persons with disabilities.
The Wayback machine is powered by Sun technology, and can serve over 500 inquiries a second. Most people don’t know that their websites are being actively archived. This could be a security risk for you and your company. If you find that your site is in the archive and you want it removed, instructions can be found here.