Being new to website development and web design, you were hesitant about launching your own website for your small business. After extensive research and countless meetings with friends and on internet forums, you concluded that WordPress is the website platform to go with.
WordPress is a solid platform on which to build a website. Its ease of use and many customizable options (on the premium WordPress.org site) coupled with its reasonable monthly price (free for the basic wordress.com version and low, monthly rates for the premium wordpress.org version), reputation and strong website security has made it one of the most popular web hosting provider in the world.
You mainly chose WordPress because you could easily create a great-looking, professional website without knowing any coding. The added assurance of knowing your newly designed website will be adequately protected from hackers is another reason you chose this particular website building platform.
Years go by and your website is doing great.
Then suddenly, you notice something isn’t right. You know that WordPress has continuous updates which can make things look and behave oddly.
Or maybe your WordPress website has gotten hacked.
It’s hard to think that your website on WordPress has gotten hacked. After all WordPress has been recognized as providing some of the highest security on the websites it hosts.
How do you know if your WordPress website got hacked? Here are some things to look for:
A change in the website’s appearance.
When you go to view your website and it is noticeably different from the way it was the day before and you’re the only in-house web developer, it is an obvious sign that your site got hacked.
Bad coding or invisible code not only causes your website to look different, but it will cause it to slow down. Your website’s rankings on Google will also be negatively affected and the content may be inappropriate to your audience.
Trouble logging in.
Hackers sometimes get into the admin account and delete you from it. Once you’ve been deleted from the admin account, you won’t be able to change your password.
Fixing this issue requires some technical coding know-how. You’ll have to find an FTP client to move your website’s wp-login.php to. After inserting some lines of code, you will then be able to start anew.
A sudden decrease in traffic.
Your website has been doing great despite it being set up on the free WordPress version. After months of constant, steady growth in traffic, you realized a sudden decrease.
The reason behind this sharp drop off is the poor user experience. Hackers like to redirect websites to spammy websites, which is something that website visitors don’t like. The spammy site re-directs is a surefire way to scare people from visiting your site.
New user accounts.
Another semi-obvious sign that your website has gotten hacked is the sudden appearance of a new user you don’t recognize nor recall adding to the website admin.
Incorrect meta descriptions.
When you do a Google search for your site and you notice incorrect or missing meta descriptions, you can be sure that hackers got into the back-end of your website. Even if everything looks as it should in the WordPress dashboard, chances are that hackers got into the coding to make the incorrect or missing meta descriptions only visible to search engines. This can in turn, lower your website’s search results rankings, making your website harder to find.
Issues with email.
Hackers like to get into your WordPress account and send spam emails to as many emails as possible. Besides annoying customers and potential customers, excessive email spamming can get your website added to Google’s blacklist, where it can become banned and no longer shown in search results.
Your email server may be compromised if you have a hard time sending or receiving emails. It is best to resolve this issue as soon as possible to avoid the risk of Google pulling your website down.
While WordPress does have a good reputation for is website security, hacks and breaches do occur. Once you know what to look for, what should you do to prevent or minimize a future attack on your website?
Here are some extra safety measures you can implement:
- Monitor your site’s traffic frequently using either your hosting provider or a website analytics reporting tool such as Google Analytics.
- As soon as you see anything amiss, whether it is your website’s appearance, a sharp decrease in traffic, or spammy links, take the necessary action immediately.
- Only use WordPress plugins and themes that have been developed by reputable developers.
- Always keep an updated version of WordPress, it plugins and themes
There is no website that is completely immune to a hack. Taking additional precautions to minimize the risk and to act quickly when something doesn’t look right are the most effective ways to help keep your website protected.
Knowing what to look for will help you quickly identify potential threats, enabling you to take the necessary action to prevent further damage.
A website hack can happen regardless what version of WordPress (free or paid) you have. For the paid version, you’re able to choose your own domain name, but you’ll need to find your own web hosting provider.