What is Website Hacking?
Website Hacking is more often than not a malicious attempt to cause damage to your website. A hacked site could cause personal information to be compromised, promote something else other than what the site represents, and make a general mess of things that frustrate people.
Visitors to hacked sites can fall victim to viruses, malware, phishing, or a messed up page that provides no value whatsoever.
Understandably, a hacked site causes a great deal of frustration to the site owner and can be costly to the owner’s business.
Why Do Hackers Hack a Website?
Aaarg, Matey! Think of a hacker as a pirate. Why do pirates do the things they do? Money, fame, hurt someone, steal, pillage, revenge.
- Your information is valuable.
Money can be made off of information learned about you. You already know that one strategy in marketing is to purchase lists of names, addresses, and phone numbers of people that have already shown interest in products like you offer.
- Your Credit Card info can pay.
Stealing your card information brings in money, too.
- Hacked sites can be used to promote other sites.
Search engines look for links to other sites from your website. A hacker can add links that send your visitors to another site. This could be other sites that would tarnish your image: porn, malware distribution, and others. Some sites of low repute will even put links on their site, to your site. You can use Google Search Console and use the Links Report to find those and send Google a notice to Disavow those links.
- Take Social Revenge.
Perhaps the hacker doesn’t like something you stand for or represent, so they want to cause you trouble.
- Just for the fun of it.
Like vandals who get a kick out of destroying property, hackers can get their thrills out of messing up your site. This is one of those things that makes us ask: Why would anybody do that?Sometimes we hear news of big corporations websites going down and data being lost.
- A Competitor.
I know of a private investigator who repeatedly had his site hacked by someone believed to be a competitor. Messing up a site causes your site reputation to drop in the search engines.
- Spread Malware and Viruses that bring down computers and networks.
Sometimes a hacker can install something on your site that injects code on your computer or network that will bring it down. This can sometimes be very expensive to fix.
- Collect a Ransom
We’ve seen big messages pop up on the screen with loud noises. These take over computer screens and demand money to clear up the mess they make. Pirates of old liked this kind of thing.
How Do You Recognize a Hacked Website?
There are some tell-tale signs that your site has been hacked or you are visiting a hacked site. Sometimes it is too late to turn around and leave once you have landed on the site.
- Sometimes You Just Don’t Know
And that is just the way it is. You don’t know until you discover some money has been stolen from an account, someone calls you and tells you that your site set off their computer malware checkers, or you start getting lots of weird email and postal mail solicitations.
- The Site Sends You Elsewhere
Have you ever gone to a page expecting to see one thing and then you get a face full of something disturbing like naked people doing things they shouldn’t?
- You Get a Big Message in Your Browser That You’ve Been Hacked.
No question here about being hacked. The message specifically states it.
- Your site is running / loading slowly.
Your site may run slowly simply because your hosting service has you on an antiquated server. However, a slow running website could also result from the site sending out or receiving massive data messages. Sites receiving an abundance of visits all at once is too much and could bring the server down. These kinds of attacks are usually referred to as DDoS attacks (Distributed Denial of Service).
- Google has a message under your site listing that says you might have malware.
- Your site has lots of strange characters displaying.
- Your site isn’t working.
- Conduct a search using the terms “Website Malware Scanner” and get a free scan of your site.
What to do if you’re site is hacked
- Don’t Panic (unless you haven’t taken proactive measures against hacking).
- Quickly get help from a professional.
7 Mile Web Studio can help in some cases and we can refer you to someone if we can’t.
- If you are visiting a site, leave immediately if possible.
Try completely exiting your Internet Browser, or restarting your computer.
How Do You Defend Your Site from Hacking?
- Keep a series of site backups.
The backups should be stored somewhere off-site for the best protection.
- Keep your site software up to date.
Software updates often include changes that close the door to some hacker entry points.
- Use challenging passwords with different types of characters.
Use long nonsense words with scrambled letters, numbers, and special characters. Common phrases and number sequences make a hackers job easier. Many sites use indicators to help you choose strong passwords. Don’t ignore those indicators.
- Secure your site with scanners that detect malicious activity, dangerous bots, or SQL injection.
There are scanners available that will check your site frequently.
- Use Captcha services. In our opinion, Google offers some free captcha services that work very well and only cost the time needed to insert them on your forms.
- Get a SSL Certificate for your site so you can use HTTPS instead of HTTP. Today this is more important than ever. Newer browsers provide easy notifications whether or not a site has an SSL certificate.
- Never store anyone’s personal data on your site. This is just a very smart thing to do for security and legal reasons.
- Don’t allow site users to upload files to your site via forms.
Some sites allow visitors to upload files like resumes, images, and other information. Be very careful with what your site allows. We know of a company that accepted resumes via an upload, and the resumes were somehow indexed by Google. Needless to say, when the problem was discovered the resumes were removed immediately and so was the ability to upload them.
A Final Note about Hacking
Nothing can guarantee your site to be totally hack proof. The software used to combat hacking attempts is usually updated frequently. This is because hacking has become so prevalent that new ways into sites can be found before the software makers become aware of it.
7 Mile Web Studio has monthly packages available that can help you take proactive measures against hackers. If you have any questions, contact us by using our contact form or give us a call.