Website Hack

Hacker (Website) A “hack website” is a nightmare for any webmaster or a web site owner. Having your website hacked can be a frustrating experience – it can affect your rankings, cause your readership to be exposed to virus and trojan attacks, make you an unwilling promoter to subject material you may not actually endorse, the hacker may have infected your site with harmful code, which in turn can record keystrokes on visitors’ computers, stealing login credentials for online banking or financial transactions, manipulate search engine results or distribute malicious content and spam, in many cases cause the loss of valuable content…

Having your website hacked can be a frustrating experience, but the first step to make before you respond to any security incident is to calm yourself down, to make sure you do not commit any other mistakes. If your site has been hacked or infected with malware, then you should act quickly to repair the damage. It’s helpful of reviewing the recommendations provided by the organization antiphishing.org.

You can find out if your site has been identified as a site that may host or distribute malicious software (one type of “badware”, an identification method based in part on guidelines set by StopBadware.org) through an easy method, by checking the Webmaster Tools home page. If the hacker inserted malware or malicious code into your site, the search results will show a label of “This site may harm your computer” and browsers may display a warning message when users attempt to visit that site. In the same time Google Webmaster Tools send notices with useful details to webmasters of affected sites.

In the main, malicious hackers may compromise your site in two common ways:

Injected Content

“Hackers may attempt to influence search engines by injecting links leading to sites they own. These links are often hidden to make it difficult for a webmaster to detect this has occurred. The site may also be compromised in such a way that the content is only displayed when the site is visited by search engine crawlers. – Google Webmaster Blog: “Helping Webmasters with Hacked Sites”

Redirecting Users

By using different methods – such as modifying server configuration files (such as the Apache’s .htaccess file), this malicious behavior can also be accomplished by injecting JavaScript into the source code of your site – hackers might also try to redirect users to spammy or malicious sites… They may do this to all users, or target specific users, such as those coming from search engines, or those on mobile devices… with the intention to steal their personal information, credit card dates or bank accounts credentials.

Hack Website

The methods used by hackers are various, some of the common hack related terms and information related to “how to clear a hacked website” known:

  • - iframe hack – sometimes called an iframe injection is often used by hackers to redirect visitors to other websites or force a software download upon visiting the hacked website
  • - Base64 code – this obfuscated code makes it harder to find hacker code on a web page
  • - Botnet – is a large collection of hacked PCs, sometimes called zombie computers. These PCs once controlled may be used to send junk e-mail or bring down web services
  • - Denial of service attack – or distributed denial of service attack (DDoS), is a distributed attack on a network or service. Because these types of attacks originate from so many locations simultaneously they often result in hours of downtime until mitigated

Common search engine and web browser alert messages include:

Google “This site may harm your computer”
“This site may harm your device”
“This site may be compromised”
Bing (& Twitter) “unsafe link”
Chrome “Warning: Something’s Not Right Here!”
Firefox “Reported Attack Site!”
Internet Explorer “This website has been reported as unsafe”
Opera “Fraud Warning”
Safari “Warning: Visiting this site may harm your computer”
Yahoo “Warning: Hacking Risks”

Clean Your Website

The first step you have to do is to clean your website. It’s extremely important that you take action to prevent your site from infecting others and to prevent hackers from further abusing the system. When your site has been hacked or infected with malware, you should act quickly to repair the damage. There Google offer a helpful hand about Cleaning your website. The main steps:

  • - Quarantine your site
  • - Assess the damage
  • - Clean up your site
  • - Ask Google and other search engines for a review of your site

A special place is dedicated on WordPress site hacked. WordPress offer a detailed resource at “My site was hacked”. In the past, a very useful resource can be found in Smackdown: “How To Completely Clean Your Hacked WordPress Installation“. From another place I remember the formulation: “If you haven’t been hacked yet, it’s only a matter of time.”. Hard to believe but unfortunately, always a possibility… The resource “Did your WordPress site get hacked?”. Common steps to follow on a WordPress platform:

  • - Scan your local machine
  • - Check with your hosting provider
  • - Change your passwords
  • - Change your secret keys
  • - Take a backup of what you have left
  • - Check your .htaccess file for hacks
  • - Consider deleting everything
  • - Consider restoring a backup
  • - Replace the core WordPress files with ones from a freshly downloaded zip
  • - Upgrade!
  • - Run the database upgrade (point your browser at /wp-admin/upgrade.php)
  • - Secure your site

Help for hacked sites: Overview

Recently Google launched Google Webmaster Help for Hacked Sites, a very helpful source for any webmaster or website owner. Maybe an important detail, one of the rare instances where Google talk about the process and time-to-recovery depends on extent of damage and technical skill of the website administrator and offer useful resources for an advanced webmaster as well as for a beginner, by showing the easy way to get help from specialists. They mention the options to recover a hacked site:

  • - Quarantine your site
  • - Touch base with Webmaster Tools
  • - Assess the damage (hacked with spam)
  • - Assess the damage (hacked with malware)
  • - Identify the vulnerability
  • - Clean and maintain your site
  • - Request a review

A known fact in medicine is valid here: it is easier to prevent than to cure… start keeping regular backups of your database and files. If your site ever happens hacked again, all you will need to do is restore from the last know clean backup and change your passwords and secret keys. Improving software security is always an ongoing concern, and to that end you should always keep up to date with the latest version of WordPress.

Fix Security and Malware Scanner

An important resource in security is bring to you by the same WordPress platform: “Hardening WordPress”. There are lots of useful advices, that article will go through some common forms of vulnerabilities, and the things you can do to help keep your WordPress installation secure. To mention just two plugins thoughts for security and protection: WordPress Firewall Plugin, WebsiteDefender WordPress Security Plugin. And just two source for scanning a website for potential security vulnerabilities: Unmask Parasites and that of Sucuri Site Check.

The last but not the least, you have to choose careful your hosting company. It is very important that you use a host that is not only well versed in security, but one that is stable and has knowledgeable tech support as well. My personal recommendation for hosting services is HostGator. It is the place where my WordPress Website is hosted for 4 years, more sites in the past and I have had few direct contacts with their technical staff, with some settings out of common and they have always did a superlative job. Yes, indeed, it is my affiliate link and if you buy something through it I will earn some money – but even if I was not their customer and I would knew somehow their services, my recommendation would be the same… And I used some top hosting services in the past…

Recently more and more readers on WordPress Website posted questions like that, written by Matt, on Saturday, March 16, 2013 1:11 PM: “I just wanted to ask if you ever have any problems with hackers? My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing months of hard work due to no back up. Do you have any methods to protect against hackers?”. I thought to bring an article which do not want to be “the perfect recipe” for solve the problem with a hacked site – due to the endless possibilities of setting a web site or a WordPress blog, an accurate method, providing warranty, may not be possible – but that can be a detailed summary of the most important resources and methods from where a beginner or advanced webmaster to can solve the unpleasant experience with a hacked website. I hope to be a real hand of help for you… Success!

References:

  1. Google Webmaster Central Blog – Helping Webmasters with Hacked Sites
  2. WordPress Codex – My site was hacked
  3. Google Webmasters help for hacked sites
  4. WordPress Codex – Hardening WordPress
  5. Smackdown – How To Completely Clean Your Hacked WordPress Installation
  6. Holy Shmoly! – Did your WordPress site get hacked?
For years working in Internet Marketing, helping other peoples as much it was possible. Well known web site promotion, SEO optimization techniques, Social Networks, fast index for Google, free traffic sources, efficient methods to increase the Google`s page rank, backlinks building, video promotion, in the main all those are essential things in a marketing activity for any model of online business.
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