WordPress is the world's most preferred way to build internet sites, with nearly 30% of all websites powered by the popular CMS. It's no wonder that the company behind WordPress i.e. Automattic, has a highly skilled and experienced group of developers called the 'WordPress Core Team'.
You can install different styles and also plugins in WordPress to prolong the capability of your site. In a few unusual circumstances, there are opportunities that your plugins or themes may have safety and security loopholes which hackers can use to access your site. In fact, over 50% of assaults in WordPress occur with plugins.
We'll show you the signs to watch for to know if your WordPress internet site was hacked. Additionally, we'll also share some strategies on how to safeguard your website from being hacked, what steps to take if it was hacked and what actions you can take to protect against future attacks.
Considering that a lot of the action in this article can be implemented without expense, we recommend taking it to heart and implementing it on your WordPress website today.
5 Signs Your WordPress Site Has Been Hacked
When your WordPress site gets hacked, you'll probably recognize it at once. But there’s always the possibility that you won’t find for quite some time. So here are 5 fundamental signs to recognize if your WordPress site has in fact been hacked.
1. You're Unable to Login
If you aren't able to login to your WordPress dashboard, it probably means you've been hacked. There can be lots of reasons for this, however, this occurs most often when your username is one of the following:
If you fall in this category, change your username immediately - WordPress accounts with these usernames are targeted regularly by hackers.
2. You're Experiencing a Sudden Drop in Traffic
If your internet site was performing well, but then suddenly obtained an abrupt drop in traffic, it’s possible that your WordPress site has been hacked. Malicious hackers can develop a backdoor to your WordPress documents system and replace the code with their very own scripts and documents.
In doing so, they reroute the traffic coming to your website to various other illicit places, steal incoming visitors’ private information and wreak havoc in general.
Furthermore, once Google discovers that your website has become ‘contaminated’ and is misbehaving, it blacklists your site from the internet search engine until your website has been fixed.
All of these lead to a sudden decrease in web traffic.
3. Your Homepage Has Been Vandalized
A lot of hackers prefer to operate in privacy, however, some like to make themselves known when they successfully pirate a website. You need to act quickly if your homepage has been ruined – especially if you can clearly see the name of the hacker or some kind of statement that your website has been hacked.
This usually occurs when hackers want to hold your website captive in exchange for money or other, more serious demands.
4. You See Pop-Ups as well as Other Ads You Didn't Put There
If you notice your WordPress website is slower or unresponsive often, with pop-ups, sidebars or various other types of ads suddenly appearing, your website has probably been hacked.
Typically, this type of hacking isn't done by a hacker - this is normally an automated attack that has entered your WordPress core system with either a weakly protected theme or an insecure plugin.
What makes this type of hack clever (and also dangerous) is that the ads won't show up for logged in users or those who access your website directly. Instead, they’ll only appear for those who reach your site from Google or another referral site.
This can make it practically impossible to find out your site has been hacked. What’s more, the ads will lead your visitors to spam websites, which can not only harm your website and its traffic but your reputation as well.
5. There's Unusual Activity in Your Server Logs
Looking at your server logs is an extremely effective method to recognize if your site has been hacked.
Your logs are located in your cPanel, which can be accessed by logging in to your Client Area. In cPanel, under Statistics, you'll find 2 different types:
- Accessibility Logs: these will show you who accessed your WordPress and from which IP address.
- Error Logs: these will show you what errors happened whenever your WordPress system files have been modified.
Using the information provided by your server logs, you can see whether your WordPress site was hacked or not. And since they also keep a record of all the IP addresses used to access your website, you can blacklist or block any unknown IP addresses that aren’t from your location.
What Steps Should You Take?
Your WordPress site can be hacked if you don’t take enhancing your site's security seriously. And even if it is hacked, it's still a good idea to try and prevent this from ever occurring again.
Next, we'll discuss what measures you should take before your WordPress website has been hacked and after it has been recuperated.
Actions to Take Before Your WordPress Site Has Been Hacked
First, let's look at the precautionary steps you should take to prevent hackers from breaking into your WordPress site.
1. Update your WordPress to the most recent version
According to WordPress, only 64.9% of sites have the latest version of WordPress set up – which means 36.1% of sites do not. Given the sheer amount of websites WordPress powers (in the millions), a considerable number of them are under a major security risk.
The main reason that numerous websites still running previous versions is due to WordPress’ complicated upgrading system. Like many other software companies, WordPress continuously releases both small and significant updates to their infrastructure.
If they release a minor update like version 4.9.9, the software will upgrade instantly. However, if they release a major update like WordPress 5.0., you'll have to update the software application yourself by logging in to the WordPress dashboard.
Because they are either unaware or forget about this, many people stop updating WordPress which exposes them to a lot of security risks that each new update often addresses, such as new bug fixes and security patches.
2. Always create backups
While lots of people realize the significance of backing up their websites, the unfortunate truth is the majority of them don’t do it.
No matter how many steps you take, there's always a possibility your WordPress website may get hacked. And once your website is infected by hackers who put in their own malicious code and files, there's a chance your website won’t be able to return back to normal.
In this case, having a current backup of your site is absolutely necessary. You can use a variety of well-known WordPress plugins like BackupBuddy and Jetpack, which have various payment plans depending on your requirements.
3. Set up the leading WordPress security plugins
Overall, WordPress is extremely safe and secure, however many of the plugins and themes that can be installed are not. These provide the perfect gateway into your website that hackers look for.
Thus, it's essential to regularly scan your WordPress websites for malware and other malicious forms of code. It's also just as important to actively monitor your website for any incoming dangers.
That’s where a WordPress security plugin comes in.
Now, one of the best plugins for this purpose is Sucuri. It offers fantastic security functions like scheduled malware scanning, real-time IP tracking, spam detection and much more. Sucuri also has different plans that you can sign up for, with none more than $200 a year to get you started.
Steps to Take After Your WordPress Site Has Been Hacked
If your WordPress website got hacked, do not worry. Follow the actions below to bring it back to normal.
1. Get a hold of your website backup
The first step to take after your site has been hacked is to try to find any backups you may have of your website. If your backup has been stored on the same server as your site, it's very likely that the backup is no longer there or has been corrupted. That's why it's never a good idea to store your site's backup in the same place you store your WordPress site.
There are 3 likely places where you may have a backup of your WordPress website:
- Inside your WordPress backup plugin service - If you've installed a WordPress backup plugin, it’s possible they saved a backup of your site on their own cloud service or another like Google Drive or Dropbox.
- In your own account in the cloud - If you did manage to manually backup your website, make sure to check your Google Drive, Dropbox or other cloud services for a copy hidden somewhere.
- With your hosting provider - If you didn't buy a WordPress backup plugin or backup your website, your last bet is to contact your hosting provider on the chance that they have a recent backup of your site on their own server.
If you do manage to find a decent backup, you're good to go. All that’s left is to restore your website either by hand, through the backup plugin control panel, or by asking your hosting provider to do so.
2. Remove all your unused/outdated styles and plugins
As previously mentioned, themes and plugins are one of the easiest access points hackers have to your website. The more unnecessary and unused plugins you own, the more vulnerable your website is to unwary attacks.
Therefore, as soon as you restore your backup, you should:
- Browse the list of themes and plugins you have and erase the ones that haven't been used in a long time, especially the deactivated ones.
- Watch out for plugins and themes that have not been upgraded in a long time. The longer a theme or plugin goes without an update, the more likely it is to leave your WordPress backend vulnerable.
- Check whether your site is using a free theme or not. If you're utilizing a free theme, think about upgrading to the paid version or another paid theme as those offer better security to your website.
Many people assume that once they've deactivated a plugin or style, it can't harm their WordPress backend. That's completely false. The plugin, even if deactivated, is still installed on your server and taking up space, which implies hackers can still access it.
And lastly, when you've deleted all the unnecessary plugins and themes, update the ones you prepare to keep to their newest versions.
3. Update all your passwords and usernames
One last thing you ought to do is update your WordPress username and password. Since your WordPress website was just recently hacked, doing this is the best way to protect yourself from future attacks.
Here's what you can do to strengthen your WordPress login information:
- Change your WordPress login password every few weeks.
- Stop using the default username like 'admin' or ‘root’. Instead, use a more unique username.
- Generate a strong password with tools like LastPass and store your password inside it for optimum security.
Not only are these ideas applicable to your WordPress login information, but they can also be used if you want to update your hosting account or FTP account password.
Another method to protect your website from being attacked again is by concealing the 'wp-admin' directory site and by limiting the number of login attempts that can be made to enter your WordPress dashboard. Both these things can be done by using the WPS Hide Login and WPS Limit Login Attempts plugins.
3 Useful Tips You Can Use to Secure Your WordPress Site from Further Attacks
As the saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Your website takes a lot of time, money and energy to develop. One easy attack by a destructive hacker can bring it down immediately. In order to make sure that doesn’t happen, here are a few ideas you can use to make your WordPress site additional protected.
Tip # 1: Enable two-factor authentication
You should enable two-factor authentication for every person that has had access to your backend (including yourself). Two-factor authentication makes sure that even if your WordPress login details were accidentally leaked, no hacker has the ability to enter your dashboard without alerting their presence.
Tip # 2: Invest in a firewall option and SSL certificate
A firewall software will block any suspicious network traffic from getting in your WordPress website. And even if some sort of harmful traffic gets into your site, an SSL certificate will secure delicate details within your website, so no one can access it. And in this method, your website will be protected from both ends. If you feel like you want a more consistent security option, we would recommend SiteLock. SiteLock offers everything that your server could need, from firewall protection to a powerful anti-malware scanner.
To get an SSL certificate and firewall for your site, you'll need to register for some of the more premium (i.e. expensive) plans within your WordPress security plugins. And if you don't want to, you can always browse our large selection of SSL certificates.
Tip # 3: Choose your hosting provider thoroughly.
Make sure you host your website with a serious hosting provider – after all, they will be accountable for keeping your website safe on their servers.
The sad reality is a lot of hosting providers stop working to supply the high level of security needed to keep your site safe. According to WPWhiteSecurity, 41% of websites were hacked due to a security vulnerability on the platform where the website was hosted.
That's why you must do your research study and select a hosting supplier that has a good reputation of being secure, and who goes above and beyond to secure your website on their servers. For example, Nuagerie is always committed to keeping its customers safe by keeping their system not only up-to-date but constantly monitored by the best in Internet security. Make sure to visit our web hosting page if you want to see some more of our award-winning features.
You can be sure the chances of your site being hacked will be lowered dramatically once you've taken these safety measures and followed the ideas and methods outlined in this post. And even if it does get hacked, you can finally have an assurance that no matter how strong an attack your website faces, you'll always have the ability to restore it back to its previous glory.