Does something just not seem right with your WordPress site? Do you see weird links on it? Or did it just stop functioning the way it is supposed to? Well, there is a high chance your WordPress site underwent a hacking attack. But how will you find out if someone has actually hacked your site? If you’re in luck, you might receive a notification from your host informing you that your files are infected and need immediate action. But what if you do not receive such notifications? Are there any ways to help one understand if there was a hacking attempt?
Preferably, all WordPress users should take protective measures to keep their site protected from hackers by installing security plugins. However, sometimes even the toughest preventive measures fail to protect. If you go for the right action at the right time, you might be able to recover your site and prevent severe damage to your online presence. Today we will discuss how to check if your WordPress site was hacked or not by checking out the following indicators:
- Sudden Drop in Website Traffic:
Google Analytics reports will disclose to you if your website’s traffic has suddenly dropped. It is an indicator that your WordPress website is hacked. Many malware and Trojans hijack websites and redirect those sites to spam websites. However, sometimes these Trojans and malware do not redirect previously logged in users, thus remaining unnoticed for a while. One more reason that your WordPress website got a sudden drop in its traffic is because of google’s safe browsing tool, which warns users regarding infested websites. Every week around 20000 websites are blacklisted by Google for malware and 50000 for phishing. It is why bloggers and business owners are required to pay attention to the security of their WordPress website. One can use Google’s safe browsing tool to check your site’s safety report.
- Bad Links Added to Your Website:
A very common indication among hacked WordPress websites is data injection. Hackers create a backdoor on your WordPress website through which they access your WordPress files and database and modify them according to their whims. Some hackers add links to spam websites and then usually add these links to your WordPress website’s footer, but there is no guarantee that they will have to be on the footer. Deletion of such links will not guarantee that they won’t come back. You are required to find out the source of the hack, the backdoor that they used to inject the data, and fix it to save your website.
- Your Site’s Homepage is Defaced:
Out of all the indications, this one is probably the most obvious. The fact that your WordPress website got hacked will be visible on the homepage. Most of the hacking attempts remain unnoticed because hackers make sure that the homepage does not get defaced not to raise alarms. However, sometimes hackers intentionally deface your homepage to announce that it has got hacked. There are instances when the hackers even replace the homepage with a message of their own – these are just ways hackers use to extract money from site owners.
- You are unable to log in to WordPress:
When you cannot log in to your WordPress website, there is a probability that some hacked your account, and your admin account has got deleted from WordPress. You would not even be able to reset the password because your account does not exist anymore. However, there are some other ways to add an admin account via FTP or by using phpMyAdmin. Although your WordPress website will remain unsafe until you find out how the hacker could hack your site.
- Suspicious User Accounts in WordPress:
If your site allows user registration, and you are not using any spam registration protection, in that case, spam user accounts are just common spams that you will be able to delete easily. However, if you do not allow user registrations and you suddenly notice new user accounts registering on your WordPress site, there is a great possibility that your website is hacked. The hacker’s account will most commonly have an administrator user role, but sometimes you might be unable to delete it from your WordPress website’s admin area.
- Unknown Files and Scripts on Your Server:
Site scanner plugins like Sucuri will alert you when it finds any unknown file or script on your server. You are required to connect your WordPress website by using an FTP client. Malicious files and scripts are most commonly found in the /wp-content/ folder. Most of the time, these files are named like other WordPress files, not to raise any alarms so that they can hide in plain sight. However, instantly deleting such files will not guarantee that they will not return in the future. What you need to do is audit your website’s security, especially the file and directory structure.
- Your Website is Often Slow or Unresponsive:
All websites on the internet can fall victims to random denial of service attacks. In such attacks, several hacked computers are used, and the servers which do the hacking from all over the world use fake IP addresses to remain unidentified. Sometimes they send way too many requests to your server, and at other times, they actively try to break into your WordPress website. These kinds of activities make the website slow and unresponsive, and even unavailable to the users. So you are required to check your server logs to find out which IPs are making so many requests and then block them. However, there might be a false alarm when your WordPress site is just slow and not hacked.
- Unusual Activity in Server Logs:
The server logs are made of plain text files stored on your web server. Records of all errors occurring on the server and your internet traffic get stored in these files. One can access these files from the cPanel dashboard under statistics of your WordPress hosting account. These server logs will help you figure out what actually is going on when hackers have hijacked your WordPress site. You can even block suspicious IP addresses through these server logs because they contain all the IP addresses that anyone used to access your WordPress site.
- Failure to Send or Receive WordPress Emails:
Spam is one of the most common purposes of hacked servers. Most of the WordPress hosting companies offer free email accounts along with your hosting. Many WordPress site owners use the host’s mail servers to send WordPress emails. Once your website gets hacked, there is a chance that you will not be able to send or receive WordPress emails. That is another way of finding out if anyone tried to hack your WordPress website.
- Suspicious Scheduled Tasks:
Web serves allow users to set up Cron jobs (i.e., time-based job scheduler in Unix-like computer operating systems). Crons are scheduled tasks that you can add to your site’s server. WordPress also uses Cron to set up various tasks that require scheduling, like publishing scheduled posts or deleting old comments from trash, etc. The hacker can exploit Cron to do scheduled tasks on your server without your knowledge.
- Hijacked Search Results:
Another sign that someone tried to hack your WordPress site is when your websites’ search results show incorrect titles or meta descriptions. The hacker does exploit a backdoor to inject some malicious code, thus resulting it to modify the data on your site in a way that makes it visible only to users visiting through search engines.
- Popups or Pop-Under Ads on Your Website:
When the hacker wants to earn money, he can undertake these types of hacks. The website’s traffic is hacked, and spam ads for illegal websites pop up in other tabs. Since they open in different tabs, the users hardly notice. However, these popups only appear to users who visit the website from search engines and not to ones who access the website directly or are previously logged-in visitors.
Stay vigilant and take measures to protect your websites from unauthorized hacking attempts!
With the number of websites rising so rapidly on a daily basis, and with technology taking giant steps ahead, hacking has become a pertinent issue. The sole reason is to alert WordPress site owners of the possible dangers that come along with owning websites. Such illicit activities can bring down, one step at a time, the website that you have built before you even realize that something’s wrong. So, protect your valued business website and make it run smooth via CMS, which will help you detect these felonious activities as soon as possible for you to take quick action.
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M-Connect Solutions stands among the top-class website and application development concerns in the market. We offer deft and dynamic website development services and can even assist you in keeping your website secure from unwanted hacking attempts. Our team has been working in the web and application development industry for years now. Make use of our proficiency for your business’s website and application needs. Contact us now!
About Hemant Parmar
Hemant Parmar is an eCommerce expert and a keen Magento consultant who specializes in meeting the needs of businesses in the e-commerce space. Years in the eCommerce market make him a perfect choice for sharing his expertise on eCommerce and Magento 2 development. He believes that customers need to be met no matter how challenging it might be.Read More