Unfortunately, hacking is a very real and prevalent problem faced by countless online entities. WordPress, as one of the internet’s most popular platforms for running independent websites, is no exception; approximately 25% of WordPress sites will be hacked at some point during their lifetime. Sometimes, the signs may be obvious – you get an alert from your web host that something isn’t right, you notice yourself that certain functions are disabled or missing, or customers contact you to complain. But the signs of an incursions aren’t always obvious, and being alert to the warning signs of a potential hack can lead to faster detection and a faster WordPress hack cleanup, minimizing any damage done. Stay safe online by keeping an eye out for these red flags:
- Your web host takes down your site because it’s been hacked.
- The Google search result for your site is flagged.
- Any sudden, unexplained change in site traffic or activity.
- Your security team alerts you to the issue.
When a website is hacked, it’s not just that site that is vulnerable; malware can easily spread from a site to the site’s visitors and onto other servers. As a safeguard against infecting their other sites, your web host may immediately take down your website upon detecting that it’s been hacked. Even offline, a hacked site can continue to do damage to its server, so you can expect to lose a lot of content. Always have a backup system in place, just in case.
When Google detects suspicious changes to a website, it may remove the site from search results. Even if the website remains as a search result, Google will often flag it with a message under the page title saying either “This site may have been hacked” or “This site may harm your computer.” The first message indicates that Google has noticed unusual changes to site or high levels of spam that could indicate a hack. The second means that Google has detected malware present on the site, and serves as a warning to visitors to proceed at their own risk, as the site is currently unsafe.
Keep an eye on your website’s traffic patterns so that you have a feel for what’s normal and will be quicker to notice a suspicious change. A sudden spike in traffic to your website may seem like a positive, but unless there’s a logical cause such as recent publicity, special offer, news story or other factor, it could be a sign that something has gone terribly wrong. Unusually high amounts of spam, sudden bursts of activity on an older post, or an uptick in site visitors from a foreign country should also send up a flag.
At Cinch, part of our WordPress maintenance package is 24/7 security monitoring with continual scans for malware. If any danger is detected, you will be immediately alerted and we will clean up the issue using only the best and most reliable tools available. This fast response time limits the damage cybercriminals can do, and protects both your customers and your reputation.
Have you been hacked? Receive a free cleanup service when you sign up for our $49/mo WordPress maintenance service.