How to Check if Your Website Has Been Hacked

How to Check if Your Website Has Been Hacked

If you don’t think website security is relevant to you, think again. You might be inclined to believe that hackers will have no interest in your simple website for a small business. You cannot be more wrong. Hackers are prowling the internet even as you read this, looking for vulnerable websites. And the moment they see a chink in the armor of your website security, they go in for the kill. The next thing, your website is hacked!

But why would hackers be interested in your website in the first place? For one, once they get access to your website, they can take the site down and give you back the access only when you pay the price for it. Simply put, they hold your website ransom until you pay. Of course, you would immediately know when this happens.

The other reason why hackers would want access to your website is so that they can use it as a hub for running unethical or illegal activities. They would use the website to redirect traffic to other unwanted websites. And hackers would usually do it stealthily, without your knowledge.

As part of monitoring website security, you need to take stock of your website from time to time to look for signs that anything is amiss. Here are some ways to check if your website has been hacked.

Are you locked out of your admin account?

Some website owners don’t access their admin panel regularly, probably because they don’t need it. But even if you don’t need to do this frequently, do login into the admin account regularly. If you are locked out of your admin account for the website, it is a dead giveaway that something is wrong.

Often, hackers will first take control of the website by taking over the admin account. They will disable your access in the process. This is a huge blow to your website security. You won’t be able to login into the admin account. They will also change the password recovery credentials. So, if your try to reset the password, you won’t receive the password reset link on your email or as a text message.

Sometimes, hackers might create a separate admin account and still keep your account active. So, you might be able to log in. However, if you look carefully, you might notice that you can no longer take admin actions that you could take before.

Is your analytics data very different than usual? 

If you see that the Google analytics data is very different than usual, it could be a sign of your website being hacked. If there is a sudden surge in traffic and the way visitors navigate the website has also changed drastically, this could mean that your website security has been compromised.

Hackers could be directing lots of traffic to your website and redirecting them to unwanted pages. They could even be redirecting the traffic to web pages that infect their systems with malware.

Of course, there are several reasons why your analytics data might change, and not all of these reasons might point to website security being tampered with. But, it’s always best to be cautious. 

Has your website content suddenly changed?

If you see that there’s new content on the website or that the original content has been changed, and you never initiated this, it could be the hackers. This would usually entail adding unethical or illegal links in your content or making minor changes that are difficult to notice but will quickly show if you look carefully enough.

If you still have access to your admin account, you can look at the recently added or updated posts. If there have been content changes, you likely have a hacker at work. This could even be an ex-employee of the company who still has access to the website and wants to cause damage to the business due to an old grudge against it. 

Are you getting redirected when you visit the homepage?

Getting redirected automatically from the homepage is a huge red flag. It could be that you are getting redirected to another page when you click on the homepage URL on a SERP or from an ad.

Hackers do this by changing the internal link and redirect the traffic. This could indicate a potential breach of the hosting security, too. If your website has a payment gateway integrated, hackers could be doing this to commit financial fraud.

Are you getting strange new user registrations?

Most websites will have a limited number of user registrations comprising of the staff. If you see new registrations and roles being added, this could be a sign of hackers breaching website security and gaining access.

Even if you see new, unknown users with access to edit or add content, it could be a potential security threat. Hackers could be doing this to change the content and add links to other sites on your website.

Are you getting alerts on your browser?

If you try to visit your website and the browser alerts you of a potential security threat, you need to proceed with caution. Hackers might have gained access to your website and already included unethical or illegal links and malware on your website. 

This could be a serious issue where users are being redirected to a webpage that installs malware on their systems or carry out a phishing attack.

Conclusion

If hackers try to stealthily hack your website, the above checklist can help you determine if there is an issue. However, as always, prevention is the best.

Website security is not something you should take lightly. Even if your website does not have a lot of traffic and does not have a payment gateway, hackers might still misuse it. To protect your website against security threats, it is important to take all necessary measures such as having a two-factor authentication for login. Also, make sure you use strong passwords and change them frequently.

Your hosting can also help strengthen security measures. A good web host can provide firewalls, malware detection tools, data encryption, etc. It will also take remote website backups so that your data is always safe.

 

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