Of all the websites that come backed by a CMS platform, 61.1% use WordPress. The platform has also made a debut in the business arena with its ecommerce plugin called WooCommerce. The growing popularity of the platform makes it a welcome ground for hackers trying to trespass cyber boundaries.
This often makes a beginner wonder, “is WordPress a good platform to host an ecommerce solution?” or “is WooCommerce secure?” Here we shed light on each aspect of WooCommerce websites and cyber attacks, how to remove malware from hacked websites and how to prevent hacks.
1. How Do WooCommerce Websites Get Hacked?
The threat to the security of customer’s data is one of the major issues that plague businesses today. Every day it becomes increasingly easy for hackers to attack websites, especially the ones that are WordPress hosted. Hackers indulge in data theft, host malicious content and cause huge losses to e-commerce businesses by gaining illegitimate access into websites with vulnerabilities.
Touted as one of the most secure CRM platforms, WordPress is an ideal choice among users due to its open-source nature. Its open-source nature makes it easy to mend any loopholes in the security of WordPress websites. Even the WordPress team works relentlessly in close association with White Hat hackers to fortify the security of WooCommerce websites.
However, what works against all these positives is the wide extensibility that WordPress offers to its users. WordPress allows its users the scope of installing several addon WooCommerce plugins, themes, and extensions. While additional WooCommerce themes and plugins enhance the functionality of the website, they also make it prone to cyber-attacks.
The open-source nature of the platform allows everyone to develop themes, plugins and extensions for WordPress, and this makes it difficult to gauge if they are secure enough to be used to improve the functionality of the website.
Signs of a Hacked WooCommerce Site
When it comes to hacking WordPress and WooCommerce websites, hackers are a creative lot. They develop avant-garde methods to access their target websites illegitimately. While there are no absolute indicators of the website being hacked, you can trace some common WordPress hack signs:WooCommerce isn’t an insecure platform in and of itself but needs to exercise due diligence and properly maintain their site. 👈 Click To Tweet
Unexpected Upsurge in Site Registration
If the registrations on your site are turned off and you can still witness an upsurge in the number of subscribed users, you have a right to be sceptical. Check the number of user accounts under the user’s menu on the dashboard of your WooCommerce site, or check your registered email account for registration emails. Sometimes hackers also introduce users through an outdated plugin’s security holes. In that case, update the WordPress website including all the plugins both active an inactive.
Restricted Access to Admin’s Dashboard
WooCommerce owners access their dashboard through their unique credentials and security password. When a hacker meddles with the website password or deletes the account, the WordPress owner losses all accessibility. This means the account has been hacked. Even if a WordPress owner can access the dashboard but finds his or her administrative controls absent, it is obvious that the website has been hacked.
Unusual Drop in Website Traffic
Being a WooCommerce admin you develop a fair idea about your website traffic. A sudden drop in the amount of traffic should cause you some worry. This might mean that hackers have redirected your existing traffic. Hacker can implement WordPress redirect hack through improper file permissions. This leads an innocent website user to malicious content.
Unauthorised Redirection to another URL
If your website redirects to another website, there are chances that you need to put some security measures in place. Use any popular search engine and enter your brand name to check if your URL has been compromised in any manner. If your website redirects only if a user is logged out, you need not worry much.
Website Homepage Features Inappropriate Content
If you see any changes made to the content displayed on your home page, your website has been hacked. Even something as simple as a few new links should be enough to arouse suspicion. Be vigilant when it comes to your content and keep an eye out for hidden links too.
Errors in The Browser
Most browsers issue warning when they detect potential security risks for their users. The errors appear when a suspicious code is added to the website. Be wary of any warning signs that flash when you attempt to access your own website. Google’s transparency report is a great tool to check such hacking attempts on your website. Make sure that all the ads and third-party widgets in your website are safe too.
2. How to Save a Hacked WooCommerce store?
If you happen to encounter any one or more of the above-mentioned signs on your WooCommerce website, you need to save your hacked WooCommerce store. Here is a step by step guide of how you can save a hacked WooCommerce website:
Step I- Configure the Hack
As stressful as it might be to acknowledge the fact that your WooCommerce site has been hacked, it is best to collect as much info about it as possible. Run a series of steps to check if you can log in to your WordPress admin panel, if there any redirection issues, check for the presence of illegitimate links and also find out what is the status of your website on Google.
Experts advise that the foremost step towards saving a hacked website is to change your password. After you are done cleaning a backed website, it is advised to change the password once again. Strong passwords ensure that there are no similar mishaps in the future.
Step II- Reach Out to Your Host
Quality web hosting is the kind which comes to your rescue in case of adversities like hacking. A managed WordPress hosting provider goes the extra length to ensure that your website is recovered easily.
Best WordPress hosting providers employ trained staff who are experts at dealing with such a crisis. Connect with your host and ask them for help. This will help you unearth additional information about the origin of the hacking attempt and presence of possible backdoor etc.
Step III- Attempt Restoration
If your WooCommerce theme uses a plugin to back up all the content and data, the restoration becomes fairly easy. There is minimal risk of losing any important data in this case. However, if you don’t have a good backup tool in place, the scope of restoration becomes nil.
Step IV- Scanning and Malware Removal
Most hackers can remotely access the server while remaining undetected through skipping authentication. These accessing opportunities are called backdoors. The foremost step in the right direction would be to get rid of any inactive themes and plugins that are there on your WordPress sites, as these are the areas where hidden backdoors lie. After getting rid of the unnecessary, you can begin the scanning process.
Scanning plugins help you discover how has the hack affected the website. You can further use a Theme Authenticity checker to track problematic code in the theme you use if any. You can then proceed to remove the faulty code. Ensure that your WordPress theme codes are intact.
Download the plugin and theme files and use them to replace corrupted ones. MalCare cleaner is an instant, one-click tool that has an active hacking alert system and auto-clean feature that takes care of scanning and cleaning your site off the malware on its own.
Step V- Check User Permissions of your Site
You need to ensure that only trusted members of your team have administrator’s access to your website. Delete any suspicious users if you find them on the user’s section of your WordPress.
Step VI- Secret Keys
WordPress features a collection of security keys which encrypts password used on the WooCommerce website. When hackers steal your password to login into the website, they remain logged in because their cookies remain valid. Develop a new set of security keys and add it in your wp-config.php file, to disable those cookies.
Step VII- Change Passwords Again
We believe that password security is crucial for all website users. Update passwords for WordPress, cPanel / FTP / MySQL password too. You can use a password generation tool to suggest strong passwords for your website. In case you are lucky enough to own a site with a large user base, you might want to levy a password reset for all of them.
3. Protect Your WooCommerce Websites
Hackers design bots that can easily exploit website vulnerabilities and tamper with security. Using weak passwords, outdated themes and plugins along with unoptimised web hosting can further invite malicious attacks of website security. Once hacked this can result in massive losses for web-backed businesses.
Here are some ways using which owners can prevent WooCommerce websites from getting hacked:
Gone are the days when you could use one password for all your different web accounts and consider your data secure. Various password hacking tools developed by hackers can easily detect passwords and trespass digitally.
Use tools to check the strength of your existing passwords and alter them to make them complex. It is also prudent to change passwords often to prevent cyber attacks. Some hosts allow two factor authentication for a good layer of security for users.
Update Themes and Plugins
Hackers often exploit vulnerabilities when websites are published. Not logging in frequently to update website plugins and themes provides a perfect opportunity for them to create trouble. It is ideal to update the website as soon as the update is available.
Although these updates happen by default on WordPress, sometimes ecommerce site owners disable this functionality and end up in losses.
Get rid of plugins and themes that have not been updated in the past year. Additionally, make it a point to delete unused versions of your e-commerce store website. There are many plugins available in the market that automatically take care of all the updates that need to be made for a website.
Protect Your Device and Home Network
As a WooCommerce store owner, you need to check your system and network for viruses all the time. You also need to be wary of the websites you visit from your device, as hackers can easily steal your WordPress passwords as you type it. Use scanning software and plugins like BlogVault to recognise malware and secure your e-commerce websites.
Avoid logging into your WordPress and WooCommerce account from a public network as that increases the chances of cyber breach in security. You can also use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service to encrypt your traffic on the network.
Sometimes web hosting companies also offer to run regular security checks on your website to get rid of the malware.
Use security plugins
After making the necessary updates on WordPress plugins and themes, you can fortify the security of your WooCommerce store further by opting to use a good WordPress security plugin. Security plugins adhere to various security vulnerabilities that your e-commerce platforms features.
MalCare is one such security solution that can be used to secure WordPress accounts from malicious cyber attacks. This automatic tool takes care of scanning and cleaning your WooCommerce account and offers convenient features like instant one-click malware removal. With this best of class WordPress security plugin, you can check and clean your system as many times as you deem necessary, unlike others.
Get SSL certificate
An SSL certificate encrypts elements like username and password and other crucial data of a WooCommerce platform owner and user. By installing an SSL plugin, you can log in securely through https. Some web hosting platforms also offer these certificates for free.
Most store owners spend a big chunk of their resources on aesthetic and functional aspects of the online store. Once the ecommerce website goes live, the focus shifts to great content instead of WordPress and WooCommerce security.
Against popular belief, doing the needful to have your WordPress secure is the first step towards a thriving WooCommerce business. Do not wait for a cybersecurity attack to begin tampering with site security before you decide to protect WordPress. Have your WooCommerce secure by making it a regular practice to take time out to work on security features and timely updates to mitigate security risks.
Try out MalCare Security Service
A powerful security plugin that defends your WooCommerce store 24x7