In the digital age, the prevalence of online threats poses a significant risk to website owners, and WordPress sites are no exception. As the backbone of millions of websites globally, WordPress is a prime target for hackers seeking to exploit vulnerabilities for various malicious purposes. Therefore, it is crucial for you to be vigilant and proactive in identifying signs of a potential hack. This blog post will help you to identify and confirm if your WordPress website has been hacked by cybercriminals
How Do I Know If My WordPress Website Is Hacked
The following are just some of the symptoms you should be looking out for to confirm if your WordPress website has been hacked by cybercriminals.
1: Sudden Drop In Traffic
When a website is hacked, one common warning sign is a sudden drop in traffic. When you look at your Google Analytics report, you’ll see that your site’s traffic has significantly decreased over a short period of time. If you notice a sudden drop in traffic, it may indicate that hackers have gained access to your website and infected it with Malware If your website is infected with Malware Google will automatically block website visitors from visiting your website.
2: Google This Site May Harm Your Computer
Google actively monitors all websites it includes in its search engine results for hacking, malware, or phishing activity to protect its users. If your website has been compromised a warning will appear in the Google search engine results under your website showing “This site may harm your computer” or when a visitor tries to visit your website a big red message will appear in the Chrome browser with the message “Deceptive site ahead”
This will essentially stop all traffic and sales coming to your website from Google. This does not just affect the Google search results this will also affect all your website visitors who use Google chrome which is the most popular web browser used by millions of people around the world. You will need to act quickly to fix this issue as you will lose your search engine rankings, website traffic, and sales overnight.
3: Your Website Is Redirecting To Spammy Websites
A redirection hack is a common hack by cyber criminals that involves redirecting your website visitors to spammy or malicious websites when the visitor attempts to visit your website. Redirection hacks have also become more advanced over the years. Hackers can infect your website in a way that only your customers are redirected and you’ll see your website working perfectly fine. This is one of the cleverest tricks used by cyber criminals to hide the hack from the website owner. Then, there are redirection cases in which only the people accessing your website from a certain browser will be redirected to spammy or malicious websites.
4: Slow and Unresponsive Website
If you have noticed that your WordPress website has become really slow to load or it takes forever to make changes via the admin area of the website then this may suggest your site has been compromised. This is due to the fact that the malware is using up most of the CPU or memory resources allocated to your hosting account and you no longer have any CPU or memory resources left to run or manage the website so it basically comes to a standstill and you can no longer do anything.
5: Hosting Company Suspends Your Hosting Account
Hosting companies have strict policies in place to suspend accounts or disable websites if they find malware on a website. This step is necessary to protect other websites on the server, especially if it is shared hosting as a compromised website can have a serious impact on the overall CPU, memory, and network resources on the server.
If your website has been compromised some hosting companies may help you repair the hacked WordPress website however a lot of hosting services will not help as the website is your responsibility to ensure it’s managed and is running the latest version of the software, themes, and plug-ins. You will need to clean up and secure the website yourself or hire a security expert to resolve this issue for you. The hosting company will not enable your hosting service until your website is malware-free and running the latest versions of plug-ins, and themes. You will also be asked to take other security measures to ensure this does not happen again. The bottom line is you will your reputation, website traffic and sales, Google search engine listing, and much more.
6: Pop-up Advertisements On Your Website
Cyber Criminals normally hack websites for profit and one way to make money from your website is to display popup advertisements for porn, casino, payday loans, or pharmacy websites. If you notice these types of advertisements on your website or your visitors notice the ads then your website has been compromised by cyber criminals.
7: Phishing Website Activity
Another common warning sign that your website has been compromised is that your site is involved in Phishing activity. This is where scammers or cyber criminals will hack your website or page at your site so they can send visitors to it via emails or SMS text in order to obtain their credit card or bank details. If your website is involved in phishing activity Google will ban your site from the search results and in Google Chrome plus you may also get contacted by the police or a government agency and the hosting company will also suspend your hosting service.
8: Website Sending Spam Emails
Another common warning sign that your website has been compromised is that it’s sending spam out from your email accounts. The hackers will basically take control of your email accounts and send emails to all your contacts or send general spam emails out to random email accounts. The hosting company will normally make you aware of a email spamming issue, they may also suspend your hosting account until its resolved.
9: White Screen Or 500 Internal Server Error Message
If your website displays a white screen with no error messages or a 500 internal server error this may suggest that your website has been hacked. A standard hack by cybercriminals is to inject code into your website index.php file or .htaccess file. The server will attempt to read, and process the code and will be unable to do this, therefore, it will show a 500 error message or a white screen if error reporting has not been enabled
10: Customers Complain That Their Credit Cards Have Been Used
If you get multiple complaints from customers saying their credit cards have been used without their permission, it may suggest a credit card hack on your website. Unfortunately, card skimming, fake payment scripts, and fake checkout forms are a reality today. Especially for the e-commerce industry. Financial data is sold for thousands of dollars on the dark web which is why cybercriminals target websites in order to obtain valuable credit card data.
The security of your WordPress website is paramount in safeguarding both your data and the experience of your visitors. Regular monitoring and prompt action are essential in identifying and mitigating potential security threats. By staying vigilant, updating software regularly, and employing robust security measures, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to hackers and ensure the continued integrity of your WordPress website.