Yes, there are signs that your WordPress or any website has been hacked, and yes there are ways to fix it. This article offers five ways you can tell if your website has been hacked, and then offers a few ways to solve the hack.
Remember that a malicious attacker has several ways of gaining access. It may be malware or a nefarious plugin, but it may be something more sinister like your email has been hacked or your smartphone/computer has spyware. Here are a few signs that your website has been hacked.
1 – You Are Unable to Log Into Your Account
If you are unable to log into your account, then that is a classic sign that you have been hacked. Yet, despite being a classic sign, it is one of the least common issues. Many hackers don’t want you to notice that you have been hacked. This allows them to keep gathering your customer information and/or keeps you working on your website so they can keep exploiting it.
There are some great WordPress hacks where you have to log in two or three times. It will say that your password is incorrect the first one or two times, and the third time it will let you in. This is because the WordPress hack is actually processing your request. By your third attempt at your real password, you are allowed 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 over your WordPress code, you may notice unknown scripts and possibly unknown files in your WordPress. This is often because of nefarious plugins leaving their files behind that may be used by hackers or other malware at a later date.
3 – Your Website Started Going Slow
This is a signal that somebody is using your website for nefarious reasons. It can be anything, from people hotlinking from your images and using up your bandwidth, to spammed people being redirected from your Google safe website to one of their nefarious ones.
Another reason your website may take a lot longer to load than is normal is that it may be compromised and used as part of a botnet on a larger scale. In 2018, researchers identified 20,000 compromised WordPress websites working as a botnet to carry out cyber attacks.
4 – Odd Additions to Your Website
A silly trick is to add pop-ups to your website. It is silly because it alerts you to the hack and causes you to react. In reality, they will add links to spam websites where your innocent viewers will be ripped off. After a while, you will be banned by search engines for being a suspicious website.
5 – Your Traffic or Affiliate Revenue is Down
This is another classic sign that your website has been hacked. The attacker is using your traffic and maybe even your affiliate money for his or her own ends. Often, it is odd behavior in your analytics that alerts you to a WordPress hack.
How to Fix it
First things first, you’ll need to identify the source of the attack. If not, you can check your server access logs. Once you know where the attack came 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. Be sure to use strong passwords that are difficult to guess.
In addition, you could change the primary email for WordPress just in case that is the problem. You need to go through your plugins to figure out if any of those have caused the problem. If you have a security plugin installed, check its logs to see if there are any clues.
You need to go through the people you have given permission to because they may have fallen for a WordPress scam or a fake website and unknowingly given their information away.
You may also need to suspect your web host too because they are often hacked or expose customer data online without any security authentication.
If you are still unsure get in touch with a website security company like Sucuri or a service like WP-Masters to let them run through your website, fix it up, remove the hackers, remove the malware, and regain full control over your website. It is often the only definitive way to regain full control of your website. Finally, you’ll need to clean up any malicious code that may have been injected into your site.
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