When Your WordPress Site Has Been Hacked

It is very important for websites to stay in good shape. For this, security should be strong enough to avoid losing pages, media files, profit—everything built and worked for. Be aware when your WordPress site has been hacked. Identify the threats, know what to do, and take your site security to the next level!

Security Is Priority

When Your WordPress Site Has Been HackedWordPress (WP) has a large community of supporters. You can find them in forums, WordCamps, and in a lot more places online. Their contributions provide help to anyone concerned with WP, and make it even better to cater to the increasing demands.

But you can’t always rely on others to help you out. You have to learn how to guide yourself when the problem comes up. This way you’ll understand the situation better.

“Straight to the point. Just yesterday evening, my website had a successful hacking attempt in years.” -A (@khurramar), WordPress user

Thousands of random sites suffered from hackers recently, due to a vulnerability in the WP versions 4.7 and 4.7.1. A bug penetrated their REST APIs and modified their latest posts.

WordPress resolved the issue by releasing version 4.7.2. They teamed up with Sucuri, and advises administrators to upgrade to the latest software version.

No one knows when an issue could arise, but everyone can take security measures.

Signs of a Hacked Website

Security threats can come from anywhere. This applies to any website, including those outside of WordPress. A malicious attack can penetrate both frontend and backend.

Hackers can access your site through weak hosting, themes, plugins, and passwords. SEO spam and browser penetration are two such malicious attacks.

Here are some signs of the signs that someone hacked your site:

1. Unauthorized Behavior

Be aware of site modifications that you do not recognize. Check to see any changes in your admin control, site posts, and other features and functions.

According to the Center for Internet Security, hackers can penetrate: home users, desktop systems, email, web, database, app servers, and core services.

Sometimes the changes are explicit. But, there are also cases when they are not. Either way, stay updated with the activities in your website.

2. Blacklisted by Search Engines

Google, Mozilla, Bing, and other engines want to protect site users. They notify them if the site is either safe or dangerous.

When hackers gain control of your website, it’s easy for them to send spam or any malicious threats across the internet. Consequently, individual recipients, firewalls, and monitoring systems mark them as potentially dangerous.

There are tools that determine if you’re in the blacklist. With a high number of reports, engines block your site from you and your site users. Be aware when this happens.

3. Disabled by Host

Your host can disable your some of your site features, functions, or the entire site when they notice potential threats. Certain elements may have been found vulnerable and needs to be upgraded or fixed. When this happens, you can contact your hosting provider to clarify the issue.

Steps for Recovery

Getting hacked is a serious problem, but you can still bounce back. It is frustrating when you find someone else taking charge of your site and profit. It damages your identity and other areas of concern.

But, it shouldn’t paralyze you. Here are some of the things you can do:

1. Identify the Attack

When Your WordPress Site Has Been HackedOnce you notice any signs of compromise, you should first take note of what and where the changes are. Document the issue in as much detail as you can:

  • Deciding factors – What made you think someone hacked your site?
  • Areas affected – Which features, functions, or places in your site changed without your permission?
  • Time observed – When did you notice the changes? Do they indicate the time they were created?
  • Recent actions – What was the last thing you did in your site?
  • Admin users – Is there anyone else who can access the site apart from you? Do the changes reflect the user’s identity?

Ask any relevant questions that you can think of, and provide answers for them. List them down. They can help trace where the issue stems from, and can guide you in confirming the attack.

2. Scan Your System

Install security plugins, such as Sucuri, to scan your system. They can detect the malware and provide a record of your site activities. Other features are available.

There are also external scanners, such as VirusTotal. Whichever you use, ensure they are reliable enough to monitor your system. Scan both site and computer system to ensure overall security.

3. Strengthen Your Password

At the first sign of compromise, do not leave your site without changing your password. Hackers can easily get through your admin with a weak one.

Create a stronger password using password generators. Also use a passwords manager, such as LastPass, instead of storing them in easily accessed notepads or text files.

4. Check with Your Hosting Provider

Notify your hosting provider about your recent observations. Verify the details with them, and check to see if they are aware of the situation. The changes you experienced might just be temporary.

If you are on a shared hosting account, your adjacent site could be causing the problem. It could be that the site has been blacklisted. Since you are on a shared server, you got carried along.

5. Clean Your Site

With all signs confirmed, you should trace the affected areas and resolve the issue. If an outdated plugin was the cause, replace it with its latest version or change it with a better item. The same applies to outdated WP software.

Scan your web and local systems thoroughly. Malware, outdated software, and poorly built codes can give room to hackers. Update your site whenever necessary. Maintain your system regularly.

If you cannot access your account in any possible way you know, it’s best to see an expert to help you out. If your site has been hacked and blacklisted already, request a review from Google or other search engines.

Best Security Practices

It can be very frustrating and time-consuming when you have a hacked website. You can lose business clients and other great opportunities and privileges when your integrity is spoiled. Loss of trust and loss of profit are not easy to deal with.

“Those who do not archive the past are condemned to retype it!” -Garfinkel and Spafford, Practical UNIX Security (first edition)

You don’t want to go through the pains of restoring your entire account. This is why it’s critical that you make sure your site is secured from any form of attack. Here’s how:

  1. Backup –  Secure a backup for your important files. Store them safely in hard drives, CDs, or any other storage locations. This is also helpful when you decide to upgrade your software. Your goal is to keep all things valuable to avoid losing them in whatever issue that may arise.
  2. Security Software – Regularly monitor your system for malware and other threats. Establish a schedule for scanning.
  3. Strong Password – Avoid losing your site simply because of a weak password. Create a strong password, change it from time to time, and store it in encrypted manager like LastPass.
  4. Regular Maintenance – Update plugins, and stay updated with WordPress security releases. Remove spam emails and comments, and clean your site regularly.
  5. Consistency – It’s easy to know what has to be done but difficult to keep up. Be dedicated enough to make sure that your site security remains in good shape. You don’t have to be superhuman to do this. You have the choice to delegate when necessary.

Safe from Harm

It pays to invest in site security. According to SiteLock, some of the recently hacked WordPress sites are being defaced and used for monetary gain. Unfortunately, a number of site owners haven’t updated to the lastest software version.

“There’s already a few exploit attempts that try to add spam images and content to a post. Due to the monetization possibilities, this will likely be the #1 route to abuse this vulnerability.” -Daniel Cid

Spam is among the most common types of threat available. What is alarming is the poisoning of search engines (SEO spam). Hackers exploit sites to spread spam and increase the rank of others.

As the years and technology advance, hackers stay in the lookout for vulnerabilities. Different motives exist. They could exploit your site by adding features and sending spam emails.

Sometimes it’s the software that you are up against. It could be malfunctioning due to incompatibility, or it could be outdated and needs to be replaced. That’s when hackers find their way.

Follow the best practices and stay updated with your site. Protect your site and users from harm. You don’t want to be blacklisted.

Do you know of other solutions when your WordPress website has been hacked? Tell us what you think! Leave a comment or suggestion. We love hearing from you!

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