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12 Signs That Indicate Your WordPress Has Been Hacked

March 28, 2018

6 Min Read
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Reading Time: 6 minutes

If you are not responsive and pragmatic about WordPress security, then it can create serious damage to your business, e-reputation, and SEO. The infallible websites do not exist even if we are told the opposite. If we can all be the target of a malicious attack, nothing prevents us from being ready to get our website up again. But first, the very basic question arises: how do we notice that our WordPress website has been hacked?

Did you know there are signs that do not deceive? This is one of a case when your WordPress homepage is replaced by a very unpleasant message. The hacker wanted to boast his “fifteen minutes of stardom”, for example. But certainly, these are not the only signs of a hacked WordPress website. Therefore, in this article, I talk about every possible (even vague) sign that helps you get back on track without being lost. Let’s read them in detail:

1. Website Seems Unprofessional

When a product or website appears suspicious, go looking for information that would support your hypothesis or that would otherwise reassure you. For example, you may discover that your homepage is replaced by a message or banner or an element which you have never placed.

Another sign is, believe it or not, spelling and grammatical errors, (I do too, they are certainly not bad) but by default, that line becomes rude, not serious. That’s why sometimes it is easy to identify a hacked WordPress website.

Observe the links posted on the page, it can be about invalid links, which lead nowhere. It can also be linked to other websites that are questionable or have absolutely nothing to do with the theme of your website.

And finally, check the load times of your WordPress website. If you notice a sudden change, then it is another sign that you should fix immediately since it has the direct impact on your online business. Don’t you know if a website doesn’t load within 3 seconds, the visitor leave that website?

Security fatigue. Feeling overwhelmed?

Try Cloudways to harden the security of your WordPress website.

2. Suspicious/Infected Files

Unless you are an experienced developer or a computer scientist, it will be difficult for you to know which files belong to your website, and which ones are suspicious. If you’re not sure what you’re doing, do not delete a file, as it may interfere with your WordPress website.

It is advisable to maintain backups of your files before deleting anything. It is true that you may be able to find and delete downloaded files a few days ago, but this may not be enough, as other files may be hidden in other folders on your website.

3. Injected “Negative” Content

A website may start broadcasting foreign content: malicious code, hypertext links, text, images, etc. Generally, the content added in a hacked WordPress website is visible to search engines but invisible to the users.

Remember, I talked about the damage to your WordPress SEO in the very beginning? If “negative” content is injected into your WordPress website without your knowledge, your website may be blacklisted. Hence, it can put your online business at stake.

4. The Unknown Logs

Your WordPress website provides you with an access log, which records and gives you a general overview of the entries on your website.

You can see all the entries but (sometimes) it is difficult to identify those that have been made by hackers. It is then preferable to resort to true professionals of the trade so that you can verify the intrusion, and engage the legal prosecution if it is necessary.

5. Redirect to Another Website

A redirect occurs when you see that your website redirects you to another website. That’s why it is not difficult to notice this sign!

When I talk about “another website”, it must be understood that the website to which users are redirected has nothing to do with the content of your website. It can be a redirect to an unhealthy website.

When you see that your WordPress website redirects to unhealthy content, avoid any interaction with the website. It is your responsibility to close your website to protect your visitors and your e-reputation. If you do not know how to close your website, ask your host.

If you do nothing and if your biggest source of visits is Google, you notice a drop in visits. Indeed, the search engine does not like fraudulent redirects.

6. The HTTPS Protocol

This could be the first reflex you should have when you open your WordPress website. To find it is simple; it is in the first position in your search bar. The HTTPS protocol is all the more important on the web pages. If the HTTPS symbol does not appear on the page, take security measure before getting penalized.

7. Unconventional Traffic Stats

A sudden drop and increase in the visits may be the consequence of a fraudulent redirect but that is not the only reason. For example, your WordPress website may be blocked by a web browser, especially by Google Chrome and Firefox.

A sudden increase in traffic can be good as bad news. Check which country the users visiting your website come from, either they are even “genuine” visitors or the robots that try to exceed your bandwidth resources, which could make your website inaccessible to visitors.

8. Edited WordPress Files

Another way to find out if your WordPress website has been hacked or if there has been a hacking attempt is to monitor the status of sensitive files in your WordPress installation, such as WordPress Core files, theme files and/or plugins.

9. Users’ Shady Feedback

You must systematically ensure that none of the users of your website send you a report of receiving spam from your website. Other users may also report that your website automatically links to other malicious websites. If your website sends spam without your knowledge, you can expect users to complain, but also that your web host is alerting you to the problem.

In this case, you should react quickly to fix the problem, since your website may be added to the Google Blacklist, and will no longer be referenced. Guarantee the security of your WordPress website, check and install updates are not within everyone’s reach.

10. Incorrect Google SERPs

If your website’s search results show an incorrect title or an inappropriate meta description, it’s a sign that your WordPress has been hacked. In fact, if you see drastic changes in website ranking chances are that your website has been intruded.

Looking at your WordPress website, you will always see the correct title and description. The hacker has once again exploited a door to inject malicious code that modifies the data on your website so that it is only visible on the search engines.

11. Saturated Hosting Resources

Your WordPress website can be hacked without your noticing it immediately (no blatant redirection or shocking visuals). If your bandwidth and memory consumption increases to the point of exceeding what is allowed by your hosting provider, you must react quickly.

If you don’t do anything, not only your WordPress website escape you, but you will then receive a salted invoice or a closing of your account from your hosting. This situation can arise from heavy files or “malicious” scripts massively added to your WordPress installation.

12. Analyze Your WordPress

Your website may appear to be working well, as it was the first day it went live. However, with a little more attention, you might notice the appearance of spam on the header or on the bottom of your website.

More often, these untimely advertisements involve the advertising of any product, illegal activities or pornographic advertising. Identifying them can also be very difficult, as hackers can use different techniques to hide advertisements: white text on white background, gray text on a gray background…so much so that you might never notice them.

Nevertheless, search engines can easily detect everything that is displayed on your website. To do this, enter the name of your website on the Google search engine and it will display all of the items that are displayed on your website.

Few Tips to Protect WordPress Website

There are a number of technical solutions to secure a WordPress website, below I give you five easy tips to apply. Furthermore, get involved with a WordPress security expert if you have any constraints.

  • Tip #1: A WordPress CMS is like a desktop computer, its system needs to be updated when a new version is available. Follow the security updates and install them immediately.
  • Tip #2: If you have purchased your WordPress theme from a premium theme platform – so paying – some plugins may be built into your theme by default. These plugins there must also be updated. Be careful because they may not appear in the space that lists the installed plugins. Regular verification is required. In general, never neglect the updates of your plugins, including security patches.
  • Tip #3: Do not install WordPress themes and plugins that you find on malicious websites whose publisher cannot be found. In general, use themes and plugins only if they come from websites recognized as trusted sites.
  • Tip #4: Your password must contain at least 8 characters – letters, numbers, and characters to add complexity. It must not contain a dictionary word, regardless of language. Never use the same password for other accounts and access: FTP, database, Google account, Paypal account, etc.
  • Tip #5: Back up your WordPress website and database regularly — when it is clean, otherwise it is useless.

Wrapping Up!

In general, it is difficult to know if your WordPress website has been hacked, especially if there are no visible changes to the operation of your website.

With advances in programming techniques, some hackers can infiltrate a website, hiding a virus in some files. This can happen if the SysAdmin does not perform systematic website updates, plugins, and themes; or that he downloads plugins from unreliable sources.

If your WordPress website is hacked, the hacker can have access to all your information, as well as that of your customers, until you fix the problem or get secure WordPress managed hosting. With the noticeable rise in hacking acts, it is in the interest of any website owner to know if his WordPress is hacked before the worst happens.

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Mansoor Ahmed Khan

Passionate about technology, entrepreneurship, and marketing, Mansoor Ahmed Khan is in computing since he knows how to type on a keyboard. His daily life is rocked by his family, projects, and his screen. Probably in this order, he likes to be convinced at least.

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