A painful reality about running websites is that they may get a WordPress website hacked anytime. You might feel so frustrated when you have to deal with such kinds of issues. Even though you have basic security developed on your WordPress website, hackers with malicious intent can find access points and loopholes in your website code. Imagine you find yourself in the worst scenario, and someone has got access to your WordPress website. Now, what do you do to secure your website?
In this article, we have explained seven important signs to identify your website has been hacked. And, also take you through eleven essential steps you can perform to secure and clean out your website from the hacker.
Table of Contents
- 1. Put Your Website In Maintenance Mode
- 2. Check With Your Hosting Company
- 3. Change Your Website Secret Keys
- 4. Change And Create Strong Passwords
- 5. Restore Website Previous Version
- 6. Update Plugins And Themes
- 7. Clean Out Your Sitemap
- 8. Track User Activity On Your Site
- 9. Reinstall Plugins And Themes
- 10. Clean Out Your Website Database
- 11. Hire A Professional
How To Check If Your Website Is Hacked? (Warning Signs)
1. You Are Not Able To Log In
As you can not log in to your website is the foremost sign that your website has been hacked. However, it is not true when you forget your password. So, before you suppose you have been hacked, try to reset your password. Still, if you are not able to log in, then it is a warning sign for you. Sometimes website hackers change passwords to prohibit access.
2. Your Website Appearance Has Changed
If your website appearance is different, then your website may be hacked. Hackers sometimes replace the homepage with a static web page. Apart from this, they may add unneeded content, link to unauthentic sites, and many other changes made to your website.
Before you are supposed to be hacked, check out your admin side and make sure you have not accidentally made the changes on your website.
3. Website Becomes Very Slow
Without a doubt, there are lots of factors that slow down your website. To understand the website speed, you can use various tools like GTmetrix, WebPageTest, Google PageSpeed Insight, and many more. If you get something uncommon in that, then it may be a sign your website has been hacked. Moreover, some common malicious attacks that slow down your website are SQL injections, Brute force attacks, and many more.
Important Reading: How To Speed Up Your WordPress Website?
4. Browser Warnings
If your web browser displays a warning that your website is endangered, then it could be a sign that your website has been hacked. Moreover, it may be because of some problem with your code in the theme or plugins and issue with the domain. You have to remove a specific plugin or theme that may have problems in the code. Importantly, understand the warnings in the browser that help you to identify your problem.
5. Your Website is Redirecting To Hacked Website
Generally, the redirection code of your website is in a wp-config.php file or .htaccess file. Sometimes hackers will redirect your visitors to another malicious website. If you find your .htaccess file keeps getting modified, then it’s a sign that your website has been hacked. However, the important thing is to use quality hosting for your WordPress website.
6. Search Engine Warnings
Whenever you search for a particular website and if the website is hacked, then Google may showcase the warning. Google always prevents you from visiting malicious or hacked websites. And, these types of sites may harm your digital devices and user experience. There is a possibility of a sitemap may be hacked, which affects the way Google crawls your website.
7. Hosting Company Disabled Your Website
Almost all the hosting companies scan their services daily for a hacked website. Some significant signs hosting companies look for extensive usage of CPU resources, spam emails sent in bulk, and many more. Most hosting companies like GoDaddy will try to push their security service to the website. About all the hosting companies will charge you a lot of money every time your website is hacked. And, it will also take time to get your website cleaned. At this time, you may lose the traffic, revenue, and brand value of your website.
What To Do When Your Website Is Hacked?
1. Put Your Website In Maintenance Mode
If you do not want your visitor to find your website while you are fixing it, then put it in maintenance mode. You can use WordPress plugins like Coming Soon Page and Maintenance Mode will let you put your website into maintenance mode. Using this plugin, you can work on your website in hiding while your visitors see a “Coming Soon” or “Maintenance Mode” web page.
With this plugin, you can see your website, but other people can not see it when you are working on it. You can create different landing pages for your website.
Related Read: WordPress Maintenance Checklist (Must Perform Regularly)
2. Check With Your Hosting Company
Many great hosting companies are helpful and have an experienced staff that is well-equipped to help you out in this situation. That is the main reason, before doing anything yourself, get in touch with your hosting provider, and follow their instructions.
In addition to this, if your website is run on the shared server, then it is also how you can look at the hacker gaining access to your website through another website on your server. In this situation, they can tell you from where the hacker found the way to in. Luckily, your hosting company is capable enough to help you to clean up your website after it is hacked. For instance, HostGator and SiteGround are helpful when something like this happens with your website.
3. Change Your Website Secret Keys
WordPress creates a set of security keys that encrypts your passwords. Changing your security keys make your website more safe and secure. Moreover, if the hacker hacked your password, and they still log in to your website admin panel because the cookies are valid. That’s why it is important to create a new security key to disable the cookie. Once you generate a new security key, add it into your wp-configue.php file.
4. Change And Create Strong Passwords
It is important to change the password to prevent your website from being hacked. Always make sure you will change your password, including access to the WP admin dashboard, cPanel, FTP, MySQL database, and other passwords that may help others to access your website. It is important to create a strong and unique password that is not easily hacked by other people. Apart from this, make sure that other website admins users also reset their password.
5. Restore Website Previous Version
Whenever you restore an old backup of your website, always remember that your whole website will revert to that particular version only. Any content that you published, images you inserted into a gallery, and normal changes you made to the website will be lost. But, that is most likely worth gaining a clean website back. If you have made a habit of taking a website backup, then it is helpful to you.
For that, you may use free plugins like the UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin to maintain your WordPress site. This plugin is easily installed from the WordPress dashboard. With this plugin, you can configure automated backups for daily use. You can store your website backup on your selected cloud service or dropbox.
After you successfully restore the previous version of your WordPress website, remember that it is vulnerable to attack again as well. You can insert some serious security features to your website to prevent any malicious activity. If restoring your website will eliminate several valuable alterations, then it is also possible to do a manual cleanup of your website code.
6. Update Plugins And Themes
It is always important that all your WordPress themes and plugins are updated with the latest version. For that, go to the Dashboard >> Updates in your website and update everything that is required to. Make sure you should do this before attempting any other fixes on your website. If your themes and plugins carry the website at risk, then any more fixes you make may be unfulfilled by the vulnerability.
Before processing to the next, make sure all the things on your website are up to date.
7. Clean Out Your Sitemap
If your sitemap.xml file is hacked, then it is a red-flag by the search engine for your website. Sitemaps are important for SEO. Search engines like Google read these files to more intelligently crawl your website. Generally, that holds data on the web pages of your website.
You can recreate your sitemap file using the SEO plugin, but you need to tell Google that your website has been cleaned. Moreover, you can also submit your newly developed sitemap to Google and tell them your website needs to be crawled. This will take some time (up to two weeks), so you need to have some patience.
8. Track User Activity On Your Site
It is important to track user activity when you feel your website may be hacked. User activity monitoring helps you to know any suspicious activity that can lead to malware and data benches activities on your website. In addition to this, it also helps you to enhance security.
You can use the User Activity Log Pro WordPress plugin to monitor and keep track of user activity that occurs on the admin side. This plugin will inform you about the WordPress core updates, post updates, user activity, and many more.
9. Reinstall Plugins And Themes
You have to reinstall themes or plugins that have not been updated when your website still has any problems. Delete or remove themes and plugins from your website admin panel, and reinstall them. The important thing is that if you install a free plugin or theme from a fishy website, then do not reinstall it.
And, always remember to install themes or plugins from legitimate sites with the latest proper version. Moreover, if you can not fix the problem, then check the support page of a particular theme or plugin. Over there, users experiencing some problem, in that case, should not install that specific theme or plugin until they fix related problems.
10. Clean Out Your Website Database
The biggest question: how to know if your database has been hacked? Right! If you are using a security plugin or service, then running a scan will tell you about that and send an alert. It is a great idea to clean out your database as a clean database will have fewer data. It will be making your website faster.
Furthermore, you can use the WP-Optimize plugin that will let you clean out your database and optimize it for a later date. This plugin clears out all of this unwanted data, cleans up your database tables, and even retrieves space lost to data fragmentation.
11. Hire A Professional
Hiring a professional is the best idea when your website has experienced a terrible attack and needs to be clean quickly. It is easy to make things worse instead of better in these situations. So, if you are not well-heeled making specific changes to the backend of your website, then it may be time to ask for support.
That’s the end! We hope this article helped you fix your hacked WordPress website. We recommend you hire a WordPress professional or ask your hosting company to fix your website issues. Importantly, update your theme and plugins with the latest version to prevent your website from being hacked.
Still, if you have any doubts regarding any WordPress website issues, then feel free to contact us or let us know in the comment section below.
All the best!