WordPress malware: The exponential increase in the number of malware attacks over the last few years has made “malware” a household word. Malware refers to a range of malicious software like viruses and website backdoors that causes damage to a WordPress site. It tends to affect your site on every level which is why it’s important to know what changes your site can undergo when it’s hacked and infected with malware. Knowledge will help you act promptly when disaster strikes.
We have been handling WordPress security issues for many years. In this time, we have noticed that there are several ways to hack a website. For instance, a hacker may target your WordPress core files. They may find a way to upload malicious codes in the upload folder of your file manager or the plugins themes folder. Then they can remotely execute the line of code, take control over your site, and redirect visitors to their own site.
That said, we have also noticed that no matter how your website is hacked, the bad code or malware left on your site affects the health of your website. In this blog post, we’ll share our knowledge with you in the hopes that you take instant action and remove malware as soon as you find it.
Here’s what WordPress malware can do to your site –
1. Draining of Your Server Resources
Hackers today do not shy away from hacking small websites. Every site can be utilized even the small ones. Hackers tend to use server resources of hacked sites to carry out misdeeds.
Imagine if your WordPress site was hacked today, these are some of the things they would do:
Attack Other WordPress Sites
If you think from the hacker’s point of view, it’s clear why your small, insignificant site is a target. Using one website (say the hacker’s own site) to carry out hack attempts risks being detected. It could get the site blacklisted on search engines like Google rendering the hacker’s site useless. Alternatively, using a number of sites to launch attack makes detection difficult.
Moreover, it’s hard to detect the presence of malware on a site. A majority of the time the purpose of infecting your site with malware is to use your server resources. Therefore hackers go to great lengths to make sure that WordPress malware remains undetected. But malware always ends up affecting a site. If you are vigilant enough then you’d notice changes in your site like the site will become slow or the plugins may begin malfunctioning. When visitors to the site complain that the pages are not loading properly, it’s a sign that the servers are being utilized by the hackers. It can lead to a sudden drop in traffic and revenue which will affect your online business.
Sending Spam Mails
Anyone with a mailing address is well aware of spamming horrors. According to a recent report, spam mails are responsible for almost 60% of the internet traffic.
To tackle this problem, email service providers have a number of spam filters in place. By keeping track of the servers that are known to send out spam mails, they are able to blacklist and block them. Such measures have prompted hackers to search for new, clean IP addresses from where they can execute their malicious activities.
Most of the time, websites owners like yourself have no idea about their resources being used to sent spam mails. They are often alerted about this by their web hosts (shared host or managed host) who suspend the site until the situation is dealt with. When these malicious activities go undetected for a prolonged period of time, your site gets blacklisted by search engines as well as spam watchdogs like Spamhaus.
Millions of Suspicious Files Taking Up Your Disk Space
One of the many reasons your website is hacked is because hackers need a place to store hundreds of thousands of files that’ll help them carry out some misdeed. These files tend to take up a lot of your disk space, and in the process, bogs down your site. Some web hosts offer unlimited plans but unknown to most website owners, these hosting plans do have a limit. If hackers are taking up all your disk space, soon enough you won’t be able to add content to your site.
Site Becomes Slow
Like we mentioned previously, too many unwanted files bogs down a site. Moreover, it is plausible that every time a visitor requests to load a site hackers fetches files from another server to load along with your page. This causes your site to load slower. Slow websites are quick to lose visitors, revenue, and search engine ranking. It’ll be a massive blow to your online business.
2. Degradation in User Experience
WordPress malware issues do not just affect your site but also the visitors to your site. Websites incapable of providing satisfactory user experience won’t be able to retain visitors or grow their business online.
In the last eighteen years, the average attention span of a human being has gone down from 12 minutes to 8 minutes. This means, the longer a site takes to load, the more visitors it will lose. Hackers wanting to use your server resources slows your site down which could cause impatient visitors to hit the back button. In the past, we have seen big websites like Amazon losing up to $1.6 billion in sales owing to delay of a second. Big businesses can afford a loss but you cannot. Loss of potential visitors could mean the end of your online business.
No doubt you have heard of cryptocurrency or at least Bitcoin which is the most popular cryptocurrency. Its generated through a process called “mining”. Owing to its popularity in the last couple of years, cryptocurrency mining has managed to attract the attention of hackers who want to get rich quick. These hackers often break into small websites and install cryptocurrency miners. They can use the visitor’s browser to mine cryptocurrency every time a visitor opens a page or a post.
3. Deterioration of your Site’s SEO Health
Good SEO is the foundation of a strong WordPress website. The search engine giant Google has acknowledged SEO being a major factor behind websites getting hacked. WordPress malware affects the SEO health of a site in the following ways:
SEO Spamming/Pharma Hack
There are restrictions on the promotion of illegal drugs like Cialis, Viagra, etc on the web. Therefore a lot of pharmaceutical companies resort to hacking websites to advertise or sell their product. This phenomenon is called “pharma hacking”. Hackers often break into other websites, insert spammy keywords in published posts and cloak them from visitors. Thus what seems like a regular hyperlink could lead you to a website selling illegal drugs. Invisible to the naked eye, Google crawlers and malware removal tools like MalCare can easily recognize this kind of spamming activity. There are various type of malware and choosing the right website security tool is important. WordPress security plugins like MalCare help clean a hacked WordPress site and protect it from future hack attempts.
(Image Credit: Sam Class)
Spamming activities tend to change the SEO structure of your site. Instead of ranking for keywords that you want your site to rank for, your hacked site starts ranking to the names of illegal drugs (recommended read – SEO Spam & Spam Link Injection). When this goes on for a prolonged period of time, it damages reputation and loss of traffic from regular visitors.
Google, being the largest search engine in the world is committed to providing a safe online experience to its users. For this purpose, they keep a track of site with malicious files. As a result, hundreds of thousands of sites are blacklisted every day. Your site could be one of them. Unknown to you, hackers may infect your site with WordPress malware.
The powerful Google crawler detects malware and spammy activities on your site and they may end up blacklisting your site. After being blacklisted, Google will warn visitors when they try to access your website. You’ll notice a sudden drop in traffic and it’ll affect your revenue and might even cost you your online business. All these could happen in the blink of an eye while you are oblivious of until the last moment. To remove Google blacklisting, you’ll need a powerful malware scanner that’ll help detect malware, even the hidden ones. You’ll also require a WordPress malware removal tool and then follow this guide on Google blacklisting removal.
Over to You
Have you noticed any of the signs we mentioned here? Clueless on what to do next? Manual removal or using a plugin to remove malware from your WordPress site? The step to removing malware is easy is easy when you are using a security service like MalCare.
Besides, helping you remove malware from WordPress, MalCare also helps you protect your website. It helps you execute a few post-hack measures like using new randomly generated keys and salts, changing passwords, etc to prevent further abuse. It’ll also help you harden the WordPress website. To learn further, take a look at our features page.
Besides these, you can also take a few more security measures like moving your site from HTTP to HTTPS, protecting the login page, and hardening your WordPress website. And we strongly suggest following this guide – Secure Your WordPress Site With wp-config.php.
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