Yes, there are signs that your WordPress or any website has been hacked, and yes, there are ways to fix it. This article provides five ways you can tell if your website has been hacked, and then provides some ways to fix the hack.
Remember that a malicious attacker has several ways to gain access. It might be malware or a nefarious plugin, but it might be something more sinister like your email has been hacked or your smartphone/computer has spyware. Here are some signs that your website has been hacked.
1 – You cannot login to your account
If you can’t log into your account, it’s a classic sign that you’ve been hacked. Yet, even though this is a classic sign, it is one of the least common problems. Many hackers don’t want you to find out that you’ve been hacked. This allows them to continue collecting your customer information and/or allows you to work on your website so they can continue to exploit it.
There are some great WordPress hacks where you have to log in two or three times. It will say that your password is wrong the first time or two, and the third time it will let you in. This is because the WordPress hack actually processes your request. By your third attempt at your correct password, you are granted access and any trace of the hacker has disappeared.
2 – Unknown files and scripts
For those of you who know about programming, you may be able to scrub your own website clean of any malware and security risks. If you have the skills, you can look at your WordPress code, you might see unknown scripts and possibly unknown files in your WordPress. This is often due to nefarious plugins leaving their files behind which can be used by hackers or other malware at a later time.
3 – Your website started going slow
This is a sign that someone is using your site for nefarious reasons. This could be anything from people linking from your images and using up your bandwidth, to people getting spammed being redirected from your safe Google site to one of their nefarious ones.
Another reason why your website may take much longer to load than normal is that it may be compromised and used on a larger scale as part of a botnet. In 2018, researchers identified 20,000 compromised WordPress sites operating as a botnet to carry out cyber attacks.
4 – Strange additions to your website
A silly trick is to add popups to your website. It’s stupid because it alerts you to the hack and causes you to react. In fact, they will add links to spam sites where your innocent viewers will be ripped off. After a while you will be banned by search engines for being a suspicious site.
5 – Your traffic or affiliate income is down
This is another classic sign that your website has been hacked. The attacker uses your traffic and maybe even your affiliate money for his or her own purposes. Often it’s strange behavior in your analytics that alerts you to a WordPress hack.
How to fix it
First things first, you will need to identify the source of the attack. If not, you can check your server access logs. Once you know where the attack is coming from, you can take steps to block that IP address.
Then you need to start changing your passwords – for your WordPress account, as well as any FTP or hosting accounts associated with your site. Make sure you use strong passwords that are hard to guess.
Additionally, you can change the primary email address for WordPress just in case that’s the problem. You need to go through your plugins to find out if any of them caused the problem. If you have a security plugin installed, check the logs for any clues.
You need to go through the people you gave permission to because they may have fallen for a WordPress scam or a fake website and unknowingly given away their information.
You may also suspect your web host as well, as they often get hacked or expose customer data online without any security authentication.
If you’re still unsure, contact a website security company like Sucuri or a service like WP-Masters to have them walk through your website, fix it, remove the hackers, remove the malware and take full control of your website to recover. This is often the only definitive way to regain full control of your website. Finally, you will need to clean up any malicious code that may have been injected into your website.
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