Is your web page behaving strangely? Do you see spam material on your web or malicious advertisements? Or have you lost access to your WordPress website, perhaps? Or did Google block your site’s visitors?
We wish we could guarantee that there is nothing to worry about, but the fact is that your website is likely to be hacked.
In addition, for browsers like Google and hosting companies to remember, it is likely that your website has been compromised long enough.
When your site is under attack, hackers can cause considerable harm. They conduct malicious actions, such as showing spam advertising and redirecting visitors to unidentified sites. This slows your website down, and worse, it lets your host suspend you and Google blacklist you.
But don’t be afraid. Your site can be fixed. If you are panicking, the first thing to do is to calm down.
We’ll first show you the most successful ways to identify whether your website is compromised in this post. We’ll also direct you back to normal by cleaning up the hack and restoring your site.
How To Check If My Site Is Hacked?
We can confidently conclude that you’ve already already found something wrong with your website if you’re reading this.
Any classic signs of a compromised site could be clear to you:
Popups on websites that you or your team didn’t make.
- Your website redirects to an unknown site.
- Spam ads on your website displaying adult content, drugs, gambling, or any illegal activities.
- Your site is ranking for spam keywords in Google Analytics or any other SEO tool.
- Your visitors are being blocked by a Google warning such as ‘Site ahead contains malware.
- You’ve received an email from your web host that your site has malware present on it.
Such signs are indicative of a hack, but a false alarm may also be present. The best thing is to check first if your website is really hacked.
Using a malware scanner is the simplest and most powerful way to do this.
A successful scanner would automatically pick up malicious activities.
Running a manual search is the most complicated and dangerous way to check if your WordPress account is compromised. It’s dangerous because your WordPress files and directories will fiddle with you.
There are a few more strategies besides these two, which we will discuss in depth to answer your query.
We’ll show you 5 ways in the next section to check whether your site is hacked-
- Scan Your Website with a Malware Scanner
- Check Your Google Search Console For “Security Issues”
- Look Into Google’s Safe Browsing Tool
- Check for warnings from Hosting Providers, Search Engines and Browsers
- Manually Investigate Critical Files (Not Reliable)
While there are many ways of finding out if your site is hacked, the one most effective method is to use a security plugin to scan your site.
1. Scan Your Website With a Malware Scanner
One of the best ways to find out is to scan it if your website is compromised.
Although numerous WordPress scanners are available to choose from, not every scanner will find a hack.
The most powerful malware scanner out there is MalCare. Here’s the explanation-
By moving beyond signature matching and examining codes’ actions, MalCare discovers new kinds of malware.
It detects hidden malware by searching the website’s every nook and corner.
MalCare does not slow down the website when running a scan, unlike other scanners.
As we discussed earlier, instead of only relying on signature and pattern matching to find out whether a code is malicious or not, MalCare tests code actions. This guarantees that the code is not blindly concluded to be malicious and helps to eliminate false alarms.
You need to take the following steps to search a website with MalCare:
1. On your website, install the MalCare protection plugin.
2. Next, pick MalCare from the dashboard of your website.
3. Enter the website URL on the MalCare page and run a malware search for free.
If your site is found to be compromised, along with the number of infected files detected, you will be told about it.
IMPORTANT: If your site is indeed hacked, you need to clean it immediately. To learn how to clean your site, jump straight to How to Fix A Hacked Website.
Besides using a plugin, there are a few more ways in which you can find out if your site is hacked or not.
2. Check Your Google Search Console For “Security Issues”
Google’s Search Console lets you monitor the traffic and output of your website. It also warns you if your website detects any security issues. This means it’s very likely that the Search Console has found it if your website has malware.
- Login into your Google Search Console account.
- On the left-hand side menu, select Security Issues.
- If your site is hacked, you should see an alert saying unwanted software detected on the site.
NOTE: To allow it to detect security problems, you need to set up your Google Search Console. You can rely on other methods to detect if your website is compromised if your Search Console is not set up. Nonetheless, if you haven’t already, we highly recommend you set up a Search Console right away.
If you think your website is really hacked after having applied the methods mentioned above, then you have to clean it immediately. We’ll show you how to clean and patch your hacked website in the next section.
3. Check Your Site With Google’s Safe Browsing Tool
In Google’s Secure Browsing tool, insert your WordPress website and it’ll show you the problems your website faces.
The tools are accurate, as they come from Google’s home. It will search your website for malware and notify you about it when it is detected, so that you can continue to clean your website.
4. Check for warnings from Hosting Providers, Search Engines and Browsers
It is possible you will receive warning emails or alerts from your hosting company when your website is compromised.
In order to alert visitors that your site is compromised, search engines and internet browsers such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing can also display warning notices on your site and in search results.
i. Hosting provider
The providers of web hosting cater to thousands of websites.
They check all the websites they host periodically in search of potential malicious activity to ensure the protection of their network. A single hacked website on their network could have a negative effect on other websites and could jeopardize their business.
So they suspend the hosting account automatically when they find a compromised website on their network and send a warning to the owner of the site to patch the website. Check your email or check the alerts on the dashboard of your hosting account to know if your hosting company has detected a hack.
ii. Search Engines
Search engines often scan websites on a daily basis, similar to web hosts, to check for malware on sites. They blacklist it when they detect a compromised site, and block their users from accessing the site.
They do this because their users are put at risk by compromised websites. Hackers are known to manipulate or even compel users into uploading or exchanging their financial information with malicious software.
Google users who are attempting to access your website will see the following message when your website is blacklisted and they will be blocked from accessing your site.
To find out if your site is blacklisted, you need to take the following steps –
> Open your browser in incognito mode and open https://www.google.com/.
> Then place the following sentence on Google search and hit enter –
(Please remember to replace the text with the actual URL of your website.)
> The links that appear on the Google search, click on any of them to access your website.
(Please ensure that you are logged out of your website when you are doing this.)
If your site is blacklisted, Google will prevent you from accessing your website. It’ll show you one of the following messages and urge you to go back to safety –
- The site ahead contains malware
- Phishing attacks ahead
- Deceptive site ahead, etc
A blacklisted website is a sure-shot sign of a hacked site.
iii. Internet browsers
Internet browsers are also involved in protecting their customers, much like web hosts and search engines.
They attempt to block users from accessing the site if they find a compromised website. By showing alerts in search results, they do this.
In Google Chrome, for instance, you’ll see alerts like ‘This website could be hacked.’
Or ‘This site may harm your computer.’
To find out if your site has been a targeted by browser vigilantes, do a site search like this –
> Open Google Chrome
> Put this in the search bar – site:https://yourwebsiteurl.com (Remember to replace the site name)
If you see a warning under your website’s URL, you can be sure your website is hacked.
5. Manually Investigate Critical Files (Not Reliable)
When your website is attacked by hackers, they start making changes to your site. For the most part, they tend to do so in such a way that they are not caught so that they can continue to use the tools of your platform for a long time.
In areas where you are unlikely to look, they conceal malware, places like sensitive WordPress files with which people typically don’t want to fiddle.
There is a fair risk that a hacker has hidden malware in those files if your site is hacked. They will lead you to find out if your site is really compromised by researching them.
But tread with caution, please. It is a risky business to manage sensitive WordPress files. A single mistake can ruin your website. If you are not a developer, we strongly suggest you skip this process. If you’re not knowledgeable about the inner workings of WordPress, we strongly suggest you skip this process. If you insist on going with the manual process, though, then look at the following files:
> Plugins & Themes Folder
> .htaccess file
> wp-config file
> And other PHP files on your website
Open these files and look for keywords like ‘eval’ or ‘base64_decode’ as they are known to be part of malware.
IMPORTANT: For a manual quest, crucial DRAWBACKS exist. The keywords that we described above can often be part of legitimate code. In addition, hackers are constantly seeking ways to mask the code, making it difficult to find it. It does not necessarily mean that your website is clean if you do not find malicious codes in those files.
Once you are sure that your site is hacked, to need to clean it immediately. This guide will do you just that.
How to Fix A Hacked Website?
Now that you’ve noticed your site is compromised, you need to clean it up right away. The longer your site remains compromised, the greater the harm it will suffer.
There are numerous ways to clean your website, but using a security plugin, we’ve just covered the most powerful way.
This will ensure that your website is absolutely clean and safe, something that can not be guaranteed by any other form.
i. Clean Your Hacked Website
There are plenty of plugins providing services to uninstall malware, but most have a long processing period.
For most plugins, the malware removal process goes like this: you need to sign up, then raise a ticket with them and wait for an answer. Then you’ll be reached by security staff and you’ll need to allow him or her access to your website to investigate the hack. After that, they will continue to clean your site, which can take anything from a few hours to a few days.
Time is important when your website is malware-infected. For problems to escalate into bigger issues, it won’t take long. Hence, the safest way to clean your website might not be to wait for security personnel.
We suggest using Instant Malware Removal by MalCare. It will clean up your website in 5 minutes.
Here’s how MalCare will disinfect your website-
1. If you’ve scanned your MalCare website (as we recommended at the beginning of the article), the plugin will warn you if your website finds malware.
Note: When you install the plugin to clean your site, if you have not scanned your site with MalCare, it will automatically run a scan first to detect hacked data.
2. Click on the Auto-Clean button to clean up the malware.
Note: Malware Removal is a complex process and, like all security plugins, is a premium product. In order to use malware removal services, you will need to update if this is your first time using MalCare.
3. MalCare can start cleaning your website instantly after updating.
Cleaning a hacked website has never been easier.
ii. Detect & Remove The Vulnerability That Caused The Hack
Your website cleaning is half the fight. Next, you must find and remove the vulnerabilities that have made it possible for hackers to hack and infect your website.
There are two common types of weaknesses that cause a hack. Vulnerable plugins and themes and poor credentials are vulnerable. To delete these vulnerabilities, here’s what you need to do-
-> Upgrading or deleting insecure Plugins & Themes
Outdated plugins and themes can be vulnerable to hacking into the website and can be abused. We therefore recommend that you update all obsolete software that includes your WordPress heart, not just plugins and themes.
We highly recommend that you deactivate and uninstall them from your website if you’re using pirated themes and plugins. Pirated software is typically corrupted by malware that allows hackers to access the site when installed on a WordPress website.
-> Use Password & solid username
Brute-force attacks are one of the most common techniques hackers use to break into a website. They use bots in this kind of attack to try to guess the correct combination of usernames and passwords to gain access to your site.
It’s easy to cheat on websites with easy-to-guess usernames (like admin, John, user, etc) and passwords (like password123, admin1234, user1234).
What you need to do is take a look at all of your website’s user credentials. Make sure that all your user credentials are strong enough to survive an attack by brute force.
Follow this guide, How to Update WordPress Username, if you need to change usernames? And if you want to update your passwords, a guide on how to create strong passwords will help you.
iii. Remove Google Blacklist & Host Suspension (Optional)
If your website is blacklisted, you must tell Google that you have cleaned up your website so that the blacklist can be removed. You’ll need to request a review of your website and our guide on how to delete Google’s blacklist to help you do just that.
And you will need to contact your hosting company if your website is suspended and tell them that you have cleaned up your website. They will check that your site is clean and delete the suspension. How to patch a website suspended by the hosting provider? Here’s a guide that will show you the exact steps you need to take.
There’s only one really important thing left to do after you have taken all the above measures to repair your website. You need to make sure that they never hack your website again. In the next section, we will clarify in detail the most important steps you need to take to protect your website from potential hacking attempts.
Protect Your Website Has been Hacked
To protect your WordPress website from future hack attempts, we strongly recommend that you implement the steps below:
i. Install a WordPress Security Plugin
ii. Update Your Website Regularly
iii. Download Themes & Plugins From Only Trusted Marketplaces
iv. Harden Your Website
Let’s dig right in.
i. Install a WordPress Security Plugin
There are 3 main tasks for a WordPress security plugin to perform: testing, cleaning, and securing a website. It will search your website every day if you install a security plugin on your website, clean it if your website is hacked, and take steps to protect your website from potential hack attempts.
You can select a plugin for site security from our list of the best plugins for WordPress security.
ii. Update Your Website Regularly
We discussed earlier in the article that a website can be compromised by insecure plugins and themes.
Each theme or plugin develops WordPress vulnerabilities over time. Developers can immediately issue a patch in an update in order to repair the vulnerability. This is why it’s so important to update your website.
Updating delays can prove to be devastating for your website, so you need to introduce updates on a regular basis. But if so many websites are maintained, then we recommend updating every week.
Learn how to easily update your site.
iii. Download Themes & Plugins From Only Trusted Marketplaces
Using pirated themes and plugins is enticing. A pirated plugin or theme does not have to be paid for, but it comes at a cost.
Malware is found in most pirated plugins or themes. So, the malware will also be enabled when you install and activate pirated software on your website.
The malware works like a backdoor that gives your website access to hackers. In addition, pirated software does not receive developers’ updates. When software bugs arise, there’s no way to patch the software without an update. Your website is left unprotected by pirated software.
On your website, it’s best to stop using pirated WordPress themes and plugins. Using just WordPress repository plugins and themes or trusted marketplaces like ThemeForest, CodeCanyon, Evanto, etc.
iv. Harden Your Website
WordPress recommends taking some steps to make your website more stable. You need to have WordPress technical expertise in order to enforce these steps.
But fortunately, there are plugins that will help you enforce site hardening measures, even if you aren’t tech-savvy. Learn how to harden your website by following this WordPress Hardening Guide.
We have come to the end of our article with that. We are sure that your website will be protected from hacking attempts if you take these measures.
It is a nightmare to deal with a hack. It is time consuming, often costly, and daunting to clean and patch a hacked website.
To ensure it’s safe against hack attempts, it’s necessary to take preventive website security measures on your site.
Getting a protection plugin like MalCare built on your website is one of the easiest ways to do that. It checks your website regularly and alerts you to unusual activity on your WordPress website when it detects them. It helps to enforce hardening steps for websites and also cleans under 5 minutes of hacked websites.
With The MalCare Protection Plugin, secure your WordPress account!
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