If your WordPress has been hacked, you’ll want quick answers. Here are signs to look for in a compromised website, and the steps that you can take to prevent and remediate the issue.
The faster you notice the sign of your website being breached, the quicker you can address the issue, clean out any infections, and reduce the damage to your online reputation.
WordPress Hacked: Signs to Look for
Keep in mind that not all hacks have the same goal — some will try to interject transactions, add malicious code to your links, and others will try to remove media like files and videos. Here are some of the more common symptoms you need to look out for when you’re monitoring the health of your WordPress site.
Your Website Looks Different
This is one of the more telltale and obvious signs of an infection or a hacker changing elements of your website.
Keep in mind that too many people who have WordPress site never actually visit their homepage; instead, going directly onto their panel to edit and post articles. You want to periodically check your actual homepage and see if there have been any unauthorized changes. Usually, when your website’s interface has been changed, it is because of a diligent troll has managed to hack into your admin panel, changing things around to gain notoriety.
Thankfully, you can restore your website by uploading the backup file that you made. With SpiderSavvy’s Managed WordPress Hosting, daily backups of your site and offer 1-click restore. By uploading a past copy of your website’s coding, you’ll be able to store any lost elements that have been changed by a third party. After that, it is a good practice to reset your password.
Your Website’s Performance Has Changed
Your website is going to change, with more articles, videos, and infographics being added as it grows. Naturally, this is going to create a strain on the resources of your web host. However, if you notice that your website is behaving strangely even though you haven’t actively added any new content, then there is a good chance that it is being affected by a virus or a hacker. You’ll experience the slowdown, as well as being kicked out of a session. This is usually due to a malicious script using your server resources for mining of cryptocurrency.
If your website is acting erratically or suddenly running slowly even though you didn’t add new content to it, then examine the access logs of your server for any spikes in requests. A firewall will also be the best line of defense when it comes to inconsistent website performance, and it will protect your WordPress site from DDOS attacks.
There is a good chance that a hacker has compromised your WordPress site if you see random pop up ads that redirects to a third party. Keep in mind that some affiliate networks utilize pop-up ads. However, the telltale signs of a hacker taking control of your site are pop up ads even when you haven’t authorized them or only visible from a visitor that lands on your site from a specific web page The goal of this type of attack is to drive traffic away from your WordPress site and redirect them to the attacker’s web properties. These sites are incredulous, sometimes using web scripts, click fraud, and infecting the computers of visitors.
The most frustrating thing about pop-up ads is that you may not be able to see them. Many times they are designed to show for logged in users, which decreases the odds of the website owner seeing them. The problem is further exasperated by the fact that so many people use pop-up blockers in their browsers. For example, if a customer reported that there is a pop-up ad that has hacked your site, and shares evidence of those pop-up ads, moderators won’t be able to re-create anything that was reported on. Then it will be deemed that the computer has been compromised, and not your WordPress site. Pop-up ads that have been maliciously interjected into your website is sometimes difficult to pinpoint, and even harder to remove.
Thankfully, several plug-ins are designed to help with this issue. You can keep an eye out for your website security logs for any valid changes made by users. The best method of attack is to use a website virus scanner as well as reinstall WordPress.
An Unusual Decrease In Website Traffic
If you log into Google analytics and notice that there is a decline in your traffic that is uncharacteristic and outside of the trend, then your WordPress site might be hacked and shared launch an investigation. There might be a litany of malicious scripts running on your site is redirecting visitors away from your site. If you do not moderate the situation as soon as possible, then there is a danger that Google will blacklist your site and toss it away in the back of the search engine results page. The drop in traffic will compromise your trust with your readers, as well as undermine your profits.
To fix the issue, take a closer look at your outbound traffic. Monitor your website with Google analytics and check to see that the traffic that is leaving your site is legitimate. There are also WordPress plug-ins designed to see where your visitors are going after they finish reading any articles posted on your site, with the Google analytics plug-in allowing you to track specific activity.
Unexplained File Changes
If your files have changed without your authorization, then your WordPress site has been jeopardized. This is why it is important to have the proper plug-ins and scripts to ensure you are notified whenever there is a website file change. You can then investigate any unexpected changes by comparing the changed files, uploading a backup to reset them. Using one of the plug-ins on WordPress that will monitor and notify you of any tracked changes will help stop unauthorized access. These plug-ins can isolate certain files and directories, which can be made to exclude sections of the site that you know are going to constantly change and update. The backup and cache files of your site are examples of this and should be excluded from your monitoring plug-ins.
Authorized Users Being Removed
If you are suddenly unable to login into your WordPress website even after you have reset your password, then this is a catastrophic sign of infection. Someone was able to add themselves as administrators and remove you, barring you from access. The hacker will do this by logging into your site and removing all of the admin users, only leaving themselves. Password hacking software has become a lot more sophisticated in the past couple of years, and have contributed to the rise of compromised WordPress sites, especially if you have a password that can be easily guessed. The best mode of attack is to use password management systems that will create complicated passwords for you. The benefit of these password management systems is that even though they will create complicated passwords for you, the app remembers them and will fill in the password once you authenticate yourself.
Random Users Adding Themselves To Your Site
If you see a spike of new registrations for your website without your authorization, then it is a sign that your WordPress site has been hacked. This is usually done via an exploited app or plug-in.
In November 2018, there have been reports of several WordPress users having a compromised site, with hackers using a vulnerability from a specific plug-in that allow them to add themselves as new administrators. It allows these users to modify the user registration page and change the default roles. This infection has been catastrophic for some users, with some still having a difficult time removing unauthorized access.
The plug-in that has led to a spike in unauthorized access is WP GDPR Compliance. This is a plug-in that is typically used in conjunction with WooCommerce. The plug-in injected malicious codes into the site, then open a back door installer for unauthorized users. To protect yourself, make sure that you update to the latest 1.4.3 version of the app. To help prevent unauthorized access, you should take up the habit of continuously updating your plug-ins, including WordPress.
These plug-ins and apps have a vested interested in protecting sensitive information from their users, since they do not want to compromise their reputation. So by continuously updating your apps to the latest versions, you will have apps that have had patches fixed to protect from the latest threats.
Your best bet to protecting yourself from hackers and those who want to gain access to sensitive information, is to continuously update your plug-ins and habitually run a virus scan that will help remove infections.
SpiderSavvy can help you with peace of mind though with our Managed WordPress Hosting services. This package ensures your plugins are up to date consistently and keeps your site secure from hackers. We also make daily backups so that if there is ever a need, you can get your site up and running with 1 click. Contact us today and see what we can do to support your WordPress website.