By Julia Sowells
Discovering a website hack on time is very important; if you detect it late, it would already have caused you great damage. Here, in this article, we’ll be discussing WordPress website hacks and how to know if your WordPress website has been hacked.
Why hackers love WordPress websites…
Hackers, as we know, are always after things that are popular on the internet. WordPress is definitely the most popular among all CMS platforms and powers over 60 million websites today. Hence, it’s quite natural that hackers target WordPress websites; statistics are that every single minute there are over 90,798 hack attempts that are being made on WordPress websites.
What kind of WordPress websites are attacked?
This is an irrelevant question. Hackers can target anyone and anything. Any person, any network or any website can be hacked. But still, to make it simpler, let’s put it this way. Hackers are always looking for common security errors that website owners make and vulnerabilities that websites have. In other words, a hacker always targets a website that is weak. The key, hence, is to fortify your website against hacking attacks. Still, if by any chance, there happens to be some vulnerability or error and a hack happens, it’s always good to spot it on time. For that, you need to be aware of the hack signs that you have to be on the lookout for. Here we go, discussing WordPress website hack signs that could help you take timely action and avoid incurring big losses:
- You get the “This Site May Be Hacked” message
If, while going through the search engine results, you happen to see the message “This Site May Be Hacked” right below the link of your website, it’s a clear indication that your website is hacked. You should act immediately because any user who’s perhaps searching with a keyword for which your website is ranking would come across this message and would avoid your website.
- Spam emails that are sent from your website
If there’s any indication of anyone getting spam emails from your website, you should think of taking some precautionary measures. Hackers, when they get control of websites, especially those with a clean record, they use it to send spam emails to unsuspecting people. You should always remember that email servers have security measures in place that would detect websites sending out spam emails and then blacklist them. So, if your website is sending spam emails, it could also end up being blacklisted and that could cause you much loss.
- Your website becoming slow and unresponsive
Whenever a website becomes slow or unresponsive, it could be a sign that it has been hacked. But there could be other reasons as well. The website would have had a sudden increase in traffic and that too would cause such an issue. At the same time, if your WordPress website has been hacked, it would definitely become slow and unresponsive as hackers would most probably be using the website server to carry out malicious activities.
- Visitors to your website get redirected to some other site
If any visitor to your website complains of getting redirected to some other website, it could be an indication of a website hack. Hackers would hack your ranking WordPress website and redirect users to some other website that they are using for executing some other purposes. This would also lead to a massive fall in traffic for your website.
- When an antivirus flags your website as unsafe
When an antivirus software starts flagging your website as unsafe, you need to do the checks and see if it’s hacked. Antivirus tools are designed to protect users from websites that are hacked and hence infected with malware. This is to protect the users from getting their systems infected.
- You discover themes or plugins that you haven’t installed
If your website administrator finds themes or plugins that weren’t initially installed on your website, then it’s best to check if the website is hacked or not. Hackers, in order to create backdoors on a website that they have hacked, sometimes install plugins on it. This would help them later to have access to the website even if it’s cleaned by a security expert and the infected is removed. So, if ever you find any plugins or themes that you hadn’t installed on your WordPress website, then it could probably have been hacked.
- When your web host disables your website or issues warning
If you get a warning mail from the web host or if your web host disables your WordPress website, then it’s almost certain that your website has been hacked. Sometimes the web host would send you details of the exploit and also give you a deadline to fix the issue failing which your website would be suspended. Shared hosting providers, who host multiple websites on the same server, would be extra cautious and may straightaway disable your website so that others don’t get affected. Take quick action and repair the issue so that you don’t incur huge losses.
- When your website gets blacklisted by search engines
Search engine crawlers always check websites to find out if they are compromised in any way. On finding a compromised website, the search engine would immediately blacklist it. So, if under any circumstance, your website gets blacklisted by a search engine, you should immediately look into it and confirm if it’s hacked.
- When you detect new admin accounts that you hadn’t created
If ever you detect new admin accounts that you hadn’t created for your WordPress website, it could be an indication of a website hack. Of the many roles assigned by WordPress to website owners, the administrator has access to all the areas of the website. The others (editor, author, contributor, SEO editor etc) may have limited access only. So, hackers who compromise your website would quietly create admin profiles so that they can later start handling your website as per their requirements. So, if ever you find a new admin account that you hadn’t created, do the needful and get things mended on time.
- If your website comes up during searches for illegal medicines
This is something that shouldn’t be happening! If your WordPress website shows up during searches for illegal medicines- Nexium, Viagra etc- you should take it as an indication of a hack. Your website might have nothing to do with these medicines, but users searching for those medicines would find your website listed with descriptions mentioning these medicines appearing below the website link on the search engine. This would affect the traffic greatly and you could end up suffering great losses. Take action immediately and fix the hack.
About the Author
Julia Sowells is a security geek with almost 5+ years of experience, who writes on various topics pertaining to network security. Julia frequently writes for us here at Cyber Defense Magazine on the very interesting and well-timed cybersecurity-related subject matter.