Website monitoring company MyWebAlert has launched a free service that will visit registered sites every five minutes and verify they have not been attacked or hijacked. The company is especially looking at SMEs and educational institutions to benefit from their offer.

MyWebAlert will continue its regular service where the company monitors a user’s website 24/7 for £2.30 a month or £23 a year.

John Earley, MyWebAlert's managing director said that the free monitoring move was aimed at end-users like SMEs and schools, “who cannot always afford to have such a service of value and yet would want to protect themselves from website vandalism.”

In the free service, registered users can specify a string of hidden text, which MyWebAlert can look for during every five-minute check. Hackers replacing sections of the website will be identified immediately and an alert will be sent to the user.

"What makes MyWebAlert different from monitoring services based within a company, is that we monitor websites from three different locations: Docklands in London, San Francisco, and Houston in Texas. What happens with network management systems is that they use the same site as the network," Earley explained.

To guard against false alarms, MyWebAlert will not alert the website owner of a possible hack unless it receives notification from all its three locations. At the end of every month, the company will also send users a report to show how their site has fared.

To check for failed websites in industries, MyWebAlert had conducted a study where the FTSE had 43 percent failures and the retail sector had 40 percent. In contrast, the airline sector has performed well with fewer than 7 percent of sites having failed, said Earley.

“I think that this clearly demonstrates in an industry that is inherently interested in services operating and one that depends heavily on the Internet for trading that they can achieve very high levels of service availability,” he added.