Sudden Drop in Website Traffic
If you look at your analytics reports and see a sudden drop in traffic, even though Google Analytics is set up properly, then this could be a sign your WordPress site is hacked. A sudden drop in traffic can be caused by different factors. For instance, malware on your website may be redirecting non-logged-in visitors to spam websites. Another possible reason for the sudden drop in traffic could be that Google’s safe browsing tool is showing warnings to users regarding your website. Each day, Google blacklists around 10,000 websites for malware and around thousands more for phishing. That’s why every website owner needs to pay serious attention to their WordPress security.
You can check your website using Google’s safe browsing tool to see your safety report.
Bad Links Added to Your Website
Data injection is one of the most common signs of a hacked WordPress. Hackers create a backdoor on your WordPress site which gives them access to modify your WordPress files and database. Some of these hacks add links to spammy websites. Usually these links are added to the footer of your website, but they could be anywhere. Deleting the links doesn’t guarantee that they won’t come back. You will need to find and fix the backdoor used to inject this data into your website, Sign Your WordPress Site Is Hacked.
Your Website’s Homepage is Defaced – Site is Hacked
This is probably the most obvious one as it is clearly visible on the homepage of your website. Most hacking attempts do not deface your site’s homepage because they want to remain unnoticed for as long as possible. However, some hackers may deface your website to announce that it has been hacked. Such hackers usually replace your homepage with their own message. Some may even try to extort money from site owners.
You are Unable to Login into WordPress – Site is Hacked
If you are unable to login to your WordPress site, then there is a chance that hackers may have deleted your admin account from WordPress. Since the account doesn’t exist, you would not be able to reset your password from the login page. There are other ways to add an admin account. However, your site will remain unsafe until you figure out how the hackers got into your website.
Suspicious User Accounts in WordPress – Site is Hacked
If your site is open to user registration, and you are not using any spam registration protection, then spam user accounts are just common spam that you can simply delete. However, if you don’t remember allowing user registration and still seeing new user accounts in WordPress, then your site is probably hacked. Usually the suspicious account will have the administrator user role, and in some cases you may not be able to delete it from your WordPress admin area.
Your Website is Often Slow or Unresponsive
All websites on the internet can become the target of random denial of service or DDoS attacks. These attacks use several hacked computers and servers from all over the world using fake IP addresses. Sometimes they are just sending too many requests to your server, while other times they are actively trying to break into your website. Any such activity will make your website slow, unresponsive, and unavailable. You can check your server logs to see which IPs are making too many requests and block them, but that may not fix the problem if there are too many or if the hackers change IP addresses. It is also possible that your WordPress site is just slow and not hacked. In that case, you should boost WordPress speed and performance.
Unusual Activity in Server Logs
Server logs are plain text files stored on your web server. These files keep record of all errors occurring on your server as well as all your internet traffic. You can access them from your WordPress hosting account’s cPanel dashboard under Statistics. These server logs can help you understand what’s going on when your WordPress site is under attack. They also contain all the IP addresses used to access your website, so you can block suspicious IP addresses. They will also indicate server errors that you may not see inside your WordPress dashboard and may be causing your website to crash or be unresponsive.
Failure to Send or Receive WordPress Emails
Hacked servers are commonly used for sending spam. Most WordPress hosting companies offer free email accounts with your hosting. Many WordPress site owners use their host’s mail servers to send WordPress emails. If you are unable to send or receive WordPress emails, then there is a chance that your mail server is hacked to send spam emails.
Hijacked Search Results – Site is Hacked
If the search results from your website show incorrect titles or meta descriptions, then this is a sign that your WordPress site is hacked. Looking at your WordPress site, you will still see the correct title and description. The hacker has again exploited a backdoor to inject malicious code which modifies your site data in a way that it is visible only to search engines.
Popups or Pop Under Ads on Your Website
These types of hacks are trying to make money by hijacking your website’s traffic and showing them their own spam ads. These popups do not appear for logged in visitors or visitors accessing a website directly. They only appear to the users visiting from search engines. Pop-under ads open in a new window and remain unnoticeable by users.
Core WordPress Files Are Changed
If your core WordPress files are changed or modified in some way, then that’s an important sign that your WordPress site is hacked. Hackers may simply modify a core WordPress file and place their own code inside it. They may also create files with names similar to WordPress core files.
The easiest way to track those files is by installing a WordPress security plugin that monitors the health of your core WordPress files.
Users Are Randomly Redirected to Unknown Websites
If your website is redirecting visitors to an unknown website, then that’s another important sign that your website may be hacked. This hack often goes unnoticed as it does not redirect logged-in users. It may also not redirect visitors accessing the website directly by typing the address in their browser. These types of hacks are often caused by a backdoor or malware installed on your website.
Securing and Fixing Your Hacked WordPress Site
Cleaning up a hacked WordPress site can be incredibly painful and difficult. This is why we recommend you let experts clean up your website. We use WordPress Plugins to protect all our websites depending on if you use a free Plugin or a Premium Plugin. It comes with 24/7 website monitoring and a powerful website application firewall, which blocks attacks before they even reach your website. Most importantly, they clean up your website if it ever gets hacked. Keeping Your WordPress Website Secure from Future Attacks.
Once your website is clean, you can secure it by making it extremely difficult for hackers to gain access to your website. Securing a WordPress website involves adding layers of protection around your website. For instance, using strong passwords with 2-step verification can protect your WordPress admin area from unauthorized logins. Similarly, you can block access to important WordPress files to protect them or set WordPress files and folder permissions correctly.
We hope this article helped you learn the signs to look for in a hacked WordPress site.
For more details or to have us clean your website please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or us our Contact Us page.