Not a single website on the deep, murky depths of World Wide Web is immune to hacking. Many of you may have been on the receiving end of such attacks. It’s abrupt, heartbreaking, and often rage-inducing to put so much time and effort into something, and then having it stolen from under your very nose.
So what can you do when someone hacks into your WordPress site? Fortunately, WordPress users can follow some very straightforward steps to recover their website and then some. You’ll also be adding more layers of security to safeguard your site.Here’s how you do it:
As they say, prevention is better than cure. One must always have a backup of his or her site. But if you have always ignored that backup schedule, then you must create a backup of the infected site. This is a measure for you to salvage whatever remains of your website. The best possible way is to invest in a reputed and reliable backup solution.
Given that you have access to the admin area, you can also install a backup plugin. You can also create one manually for your WordPress site.
Cleaning up files with malicious code, malware is a more tedious task, but can be done. There are plenty WordPress backup solutions available, most popular being BackupBuddy and VaultPress. Use them.
PASSWORDS PERTAINING TO WORDPRESS
WordPress uses quite a slew of passwords in its normal usage. There is password requirement for WordPress for your MySQL database, admin area, for your FTP/SSH access, your web hosting account. But the passwords of utmost importance are those for email accounts associated with these logins. Any compromises made on the security of the above mentioned access points can give hackers complete control of your WordPress site.
The first step that one must undertake upon hacking, or suspicion of hacking, is to change all passwords and usernames related to your WordPress accounts. Every single one of ‘em.
Passwords must contain different characters and symbols. It is suggested to keep a password that isn't too obvious. The uniqueness and creativity of your password determines its strength. This isn’t foolproof, but you’re making the hackers’ job exponentially more difficult with every character you add to your password.
It is crucial that you change all your passwords before clean up, and change them AFTER clean up too.
If your WordPress site gets hacked, then restoration from backups is the quickest and easiest way to get it back. This only highlights the importance of maintaining regular backups. It is a way that is both quick and safe.
If you have multiple backups for your website, then it is best to recover from that point from where you believe it wasn't hacked.
If you do not have a backup, then you may even try to manually remove the hack.
LOCATING THE HACKER'S BACKDOOR
Backdoor refers to any file that has been uploaded by the hacker onto your WordPress site that passes normal authentication. Such files give them access to your server. These may be disguised as inactive plugins and themes.
If you clean up your files but miss the backdoor, it still leaves your site vulnerable to the threat.
WORDPRESS SITE SCAN
You have to scan your website for bugs. The integrity of the files and database can be checked through tools and plugins created for the same. Go an extra mile and first get rid of the plugins and unused themes. This reduces the chances of the scanner to come up with false positive results.
The upload directory needs to be checked. Upload Directory, usually maintained for media files, may contain php files. If any PHP file is found, delete it.
WEBSITE SECURITY COMPANIES
There are many companies, such as Sucuri Security, that provide website security. Sucuri, for example, comes with a free plugin that will regularly scan your website. The scan checks for file integrity, security auditing, malware and malicious codes. It also suggests possible actions that can be undertaken to uplift your websites security. Similarly, plugins like WordFence are powerful solutions that help block malicious activity and keep your site secure.
Exploit Scanner is one of the most prolific scanners available. This plugin searches the files on your website, and the posts and comments tables of your database for anything suspicious. It also examines your list of active plugins for unusual filenames. It does not remove anything. That is left to the user to do.
Developed and maintained by a team of highly skilled WordPress developers, this scanner is rather easy to use. One has to simply install the plugin, activate it, and run the scanner.
The size of the database and plugins installed determine the time required for the scanning.
The only disadvantage of this plugin is that it is prone to false positives. Therefore, one has to be a little careful while examining the results.
The above mentioned steps are more than adequate to recover your WordPress site, but in certain scenarios, the situation is trickier than it seems.
Let's say that the hack is of recurring nature. Or maybe the backdoor is untraceable.
In these situations, instead of stressing out, you need to remain calm and seek outside help. You can take this up to professional companies, or approach the WordPress support forum. Online hacking is a usual phenomenon, and almost everyone goes through it at some point. Therefore, when you describe your problem on the support forum, you are very likely to find people who have been through the same situation and found a way to fix it. They are the ones who can guide you about everything you need to do in your specific situation.
Apart from the WordPress support forum, you can approach other support communities on the internet, such as Stack Exchange community for WordPress.
We all know how tough and emotionally wrecking a hacking situation can be. The thought of someone else possessing your website is truly scary. Hackings happen every day, every hour. Rather than sitting in a bubble, thinking you are immune to the situation, it is best to take timely precautions. Hacking can leave years of hard work in ruins. The internet isn't a safe place, hacking is a frightening reality, but timely precautions can help you stay secure.