WordPress Hack Sign: Discovering that your site has been hacked is one of the more frustrating experiences in anyone’s life. It’s even more frustrating when you find out that the hack had occurred a while back. It means the damage by now is much greater. If you could only recognize the hack signs on the very onset, it could have saved you a lot of trouble.
Why Are WordPress Sites Hacked?
WordPress powers over 60 million websites and has been named as the best website building platform for 8 consecutive years. The popularity it enjoys also makes it a target for hack attacks. In fact, over 90,978 hack attempts are made on WordPress websites every single minute.
Hackers have various motives for launching hack attacks and just about anyone can become a target. They usually take advantage of common security mistakes WordPress site owners make to breach website security. And use the site resources to further their own intentions. They could be using your server to store illegal files or send spam emails among other things. Upon finding out that your site has been compromised, web hosts would suspend your account and Google will blacklist your site. But the scenario could be very different if you recognized the hack signs. And took quick steps to thwart further damage to your WordPress account. That is why we thought of listing down the hack signs that you need to watch out for.
Hack Sign 1: “This Site May Be Hacked”
Search engines like Google are committed to making the web a safe experience for the user. For this purpose, it sends it’s crawler bots in search of compromised and marks hundreds of thousands of websites as hacked each day. The message “This Site May Be Hacked” usually appears on the search engine results right below the links of the sites that have been compromised.
Suppose you wrote a piece on “Trump Administration” and when a person searches for “trump administration” on Google, your post is the first thing that appears. Naturally, he’ll open the post to read it but if he sees a message right below your post link saying “This site may be hacked,” he’d skip your site and open the next link.
Hack Sign 2: Spam Mail from Your Site
Email spams may be sent if the website server is hacked. The attacker uploads files edit your website code and places spammy scripts that will command the site to send out spam emails. Hackers are always searching for new websites with a clean record so that they can use it to send spam mails. To deal with spam mails, email servers around the world have a number of security measures in place. They actively look for site sending out spam emails and blacklist them. This could mean when the time comes for you to send legit emails to your subscribers, your mails will go straight to the spam folder.
Hack Sign 3: Site Suddenly Becomes Slow or Unresponsive
If your site suddenly becomes slow, it naturally raises a red flag. Check if there your visitor count has increased. A sudden increase in the traffic could cause the site to slow down. If the number of legitimate visitors to your site hasn’t increased, but your site has become slow, it could mean that there is an increase in the use of your site server. When your site becomes slow, visitors to your site would encounter a 505 error when trying to open a page. It’s possible that your site has been compromised and hackers are using your site server to execute their own malicious misdeeds like sending spam mails to hundreds to people.
Hack Sign 4: You Found Plugins/Themes You Haven’t Installed
Generally when an attacker hacks a site, one of the first things he does is that he creates backdoors that’ll enable him to access the site even after it is cleaned. He knows that once the site owner discovers that his site is compromised, he’ll bring in a security expert and get it cleaned. Leaving a backdoor will enable him to access the site afterwards. Hackers sometimes disguise a backdoor as a plugin and install it on your site. Website users generally don’t look into the installed plugins page in search of malware or backdoor. If you find a plugin that you don’t remember installing, it could very well be a malware and a sign that your site has been hacked.
Hack Sign 5: You Have a New Admin Account That You Didn’t Create
WordPress allows site owners to assign the following roles to the site users: Administrator, Editor, Author, Contributor, Subscriber, SEO Manager, SEO Editor. The administrator has access to all areas of a site while the rest would have limited access to the site. Needless to say, admin is a powerful role. Sometimes, hackers who break into your site quietly create admin profiles that they later misuse. We have seen user accounts being exploited before. Once a hacker group got access to the user account of a popular tech site, TechCrunch and the next thing visitor to the site saw was a message from the hacker group on the homepage of the site.
Hack Sign 6: PC Antivirus is Flagging the Site as Unsafe
Computer antivirus solutions are designed to protect its users from malware infection. One way malware could get into your system is via spammy websites. Suppose, unknown to you, hackers have installed popups on your site that urges visitors to download malicious files on their computer. Trusting your site’s credibility, the visitor may download the file. To prevent this from happening, some computer antiviruses flag websites as compromised.
Hack Sign 7: Your Site Comes Up When Searching of Illegal Medicines
Pharma hacking is a common WordPress hack attack where hackers stuff your site with mentions of illegal pharmaceutical drugs like Viagra, Nexium, Cialis, etc. These hacks are not like popups and only appear on search engines. You might have a website covering Hollywood gossips, but when someone Google searches for Viagra, your site comes up. Users can actually see mentions of Viagra in the description that appears below the site link on the search engine. Pharma hacks are known to severely damage a website’s SEO. The affected site experiences a drop in traffic for certain keywords that the site was ranking for earlier.
Hack Sign 8: Visitors Are Being Redirected to Other Sites
One of the many motives behind hacking websites is redirecting your traffic to someone else’s site. When a visitor finds your post on the search engine, and clicks on the link to open the page, they are takes to a different website altogether. For instance, your website has a post that ranks on Google. When someone clicks on the post, instead of opening “mysite.com/post-published,” the visitor is redirected to “unknownsite.com/selling-something.” When this happens you are likely to experience a massive fall in traffic because all your visitors are being diverted to a different site.
Hack Sign 9: Web Host Issues Warning or Disables Your Site
When your website has been hacked, you’ll get a warning mail from the web host informing you that the website has been compromised and urging you to take steps to fix the problem. They might send you details of the exploit along with a clear deadline to get the site fixed or else they’ll suspend the site. Shared hosting providers support multiple websites that share the same server. When one site gets hacked, there is a real possibility that other sites same server may be affected. Which is why shared hosting providers are quick to suspend hacked WordPress account.
Hack Sign 10: Search Engines Blacklist Your Site
Google, Bing and other search engine are committed to making an internet a safe experience for its users. To achieve this, search engine crawlers are tasked with finding a compromised site and blacklisting them. After Google or any other search engine blacklists you, visitors to your site will be prevented from entering your site. You’ll notice a sharp fall in your traffic as well as in the revenue count.
If you display any of these hack signs, we will urge you to clean your site immediately. An intelligent hack cleaner like MalCare enables you to get rid of malware from your entire site in a jiffy. MalCare comes with the only automated cleaner in the industry because we understand time is of the essence and every second risk further damage.