WordPress is one of the most popular platforms for creating and hosting websites because it allows you to customize your website any way you want, with a large number of available plugins.
However, with all those external plugins, and customization options there is a risk, so it could happen that your site gets hacked because of plugin vulnerabilities.
Today, we’re going to explain why are WordPress websites hacked, and how to recognize if your WordPress website is hacked.
Why Are Websites Even Hacked
When you create just a regular website for your own business or even blog, you might think that it will be perfectly safe, since you won’t use any information that you find incriminating and interesting to hack.
Therefore, you will see no reason for your website to be hacked, right? Well, you would be wrong, since it doesn’t matter if you write about baby shampoo or about Papal state secrets. Your website might still get hacked anyway.
Hackers don’t specifically target website content. Instead, they focus on finding the vulnerable software because it can bring them money. One shocking number is that there are over 50,000 hacked websites on a daily basis, which means that hackers do profit a lot.
Hackers don’t care if your website is small or not if you are a popular brand, or a newly formed company, or entrepreneur. They hack websites using different means, such as SEO and e-mail spam, as well as using various types of malware.
How to Recognize if Your WordPress Website Is Hacked
There are a lot of possible signs that can indicate that your WordPress website is being hacked. Let’s go through the most obvious and common ones.
1. Declining Number of Visitors
One of the less obvious signs of a hacked website can be a declining number of visitors. Less website traffic can be the product of other factors as well, which is why you should be careful when reading the data about the traffic.
Hackers do this by using trojans and other types of malware, which are designed to steal your website traffic and make it go to other websites that get them some money.
Also, Google has an integrated safe browsing tool, meaning that some websites will get tagged as harmful. Over 70,000 websites are sent to the blacklist on a weekly basis because of this.
Moving from one of the less obvious, to one of the most obvious signs, let’s mention spam links. Spam links are otherwise known as data injection.
How does it work?
Spam links happen when hackers need to build and insert a secret entrance, a backdoor of a sort, so they could be able to edit your WordPress files. They are also not so easy to get rid of since even if you delete them, they have a history of liking to return and bother you again.
3. Homepage Warning
Another very common sign of hacked websites is when the homepage is changed to give an alert that the website has been hacked. This is usually done by hackers who want to leave their signature, and to let you know who is the boss around the network.
However, most hackers don’t do this, since they want to stay as anonymous as possible and make it harder for you to notice that your website has been hacked.
4. Inability to Access Your WordPress Account
Sometimes, hackers tend to delete your WordPress admin profile, so you wouldn’t be able to login to your website and access administrator features.
This one is really tricky to solve since, at that time, your account basically doesn’t exist, so you have to use other means to retrieve the access to your website.
5. Fake User Profiles
People who own a website that allows registration of new members know that it is very common to have fake accounts. They are easily deleted and aren’t really an issue.
However, if your website doesn’t allow this, and you still see some new shady accounts, then it is a likely case that your website has been hacked. Most of the time, these accounts will be given admin rights, so it is very hard to delete them from your website.
6. Your Server Contains Unfamiliar Files and Scripts
If you notice that there are files and scripts in your WordPress website directory that you are sure you didn’t put there, then your website is probably hacked.
Most of the time, these files have literally the same name as common WordPress files, so they could be invisible at first glance.
They are usually situated in the folder under the name of ‘wp-content’. You can use various plugins whose purpose is to scan the files and send you the alert, in case there is a malicious file aboard.
7. Sluggish Website Performance
Having a slow website loading speed, and overall performance can also be a sign that your website is being hacked. It’s done by random services attacks that can happen when hackers use fake IP and try to break your firewall.
However, slow performance doesn’t necessarily need to be linked to hacking at all. It can just mean that your website is poorly optimized and that you need to do more work on it to improve the performance.
8. Suspicious Server Logs Activity
Server logs exist to keep the record of every activity that is done on the website, and within its files. If you notice that there is some suspicious activity being done, then it might be a sign that your website is hacked.
9. WordPress Emails Cannot Be Sent
If you use WordPress email received by one of the hosting providers, you probably use this for WordPress purposes.
However, if you stop getting WordPress emails, or if you are not able to send them, then your website is probably hacked.
10. Stolen Search Results
One sign of a hacked website that is harder to see is when someone basically steals your search results. You can notice it if you see that the search results don’t show your exact description or title.
When you directly on your website, you will still see everything correctly, but in the search engines, it will be completely different, which basically means that someone has stolen your results.
11. Malware Ads Popping Up
Hackers can also insert malware on your WordPress website, which will often show popups of some other websites.
This is done to steal your traffic and make more money, by forcing people to go to these malicious websites.
However, only people who go through the search engines will stumble upon these popups, so if you are a registered user, it shouldn’t happen.
There you go!
Those were the most common signs of hacked websites. Some of them are easy to notice, some are not. But, that’s why we are here. One of our services is to deal with these threats and make your WordPress website safe. If you have anything else to ask, don’t hesitate to contact us.