The Truth About How Websites Get Hacked
Google blacklists around 10,000 websites every day for being hacked, removing these sites from their search results. But why? Because these sites have been invaded by nefarious software, possibly aiming to download malware to visitor computers and expose them to countless potential problems.
Website Management And WordPress
Website security boils down to how it is managed! If you let a website sit without a) proper security support and b) updates execution then its odds for being hacked are multiplied. In fact, security & management is necessary with any good software online. What follows will serve as useful information, plus our opinion on why WordPress is best!
When it comes to security with WordPress (i.e. the website software) the issue is going to be less vulnerability than it is management. Any rumors to the contrary are more due to ‘upstart website solution companies’ attempting to discredit, as a competitive tactic, than they are facts. WordPress is, after all, the dominant market share solution for business websites – making it a target.
Website Hack Examples
The result of a website hack can be:
- the site is taken over and used to promote drugs, porn or any other thing the hacker desires ;
- the site is setup for and used to generate email SPAM, which also typically gets the website URL /domain blacklisted;
- a page that has subtle, maybe hidden, links (that no one would knowingly add to their own pages) that take visitors elsewhere AND
- worst case – the website is used to load malware on to all visitor computers.
Hacked Website Warnings By Google
Even more troubling for business owners, when Google (because it crawls all websites) identifies a website is hacked its Chrome browser sets out to discourage visitors with big red warning signs. “This site may download malware to your PC, advance at your own risk!” is basically the message.
Even worse, Google shares their ‘hacked website list’ with the other browsers. When hacked no one should expect to slide by with the folks coming in from IE, Safari or Firefox because eventually those will be warning people too.
In fact, thank goodness for Google’s efforts or we > as information consumers ourselves < would all be in a lot of danger.
How To Avoid Being Hacked
At least for WordPress users, which is the lion’s share of business websites on the World Wide Web today, management should understand the ever- emerging threat of being hacked by having:
- responsible local computer use, so the PC itself doesn’t become the vulnerability;
- sincere respect for protecting usernames & passwords, encrypt them with non- dictionary based words and include a combination of lowercase & capital letters, numbers and/ or symbols;
- knowledge for what different host & service packages do and do NOT offer; cheap shared plans won’t support much; whereas, a good managed host plan may;
- prioritized attention for WordPress upgrade(s) execution;
- (equally) prioritized attention for plugin application and theme upgrades;
- a VERY conservative approach for what 3rd party applications are allowed into the website, DO NOT just load up every cool thing that comes down the pike;
- protective software like, for instance WordFence, that protects in real-time by blocking identified attacker IP addresses from WP websites all over the world;
- protective software that perpetually scans for Malware, Viruses and security vulnerabilities; that also helps to remove it and a reliable firewall AND THEN FINALLY
- HT Access protection to lock out any outside access to particular files in the website’s database.
Kinetic Knowledge Offers ‘Hacked Business Website’ Cleaning
While we see it quite often nowadays, more recently a company approached us about their (GoDaddy hosted) WordPress website. They were in a state of emergency because their site had been hacked! To add insult to injury, Chrome (Google’s browser) was warning all visitors to avoid their website … OR risk personal harm. A quick review showed the website was a year plus behind on its core WordPress updates, including updates to a plugin known to have vulnerability. The site’s management had been poor and, as a result, it had been hacked & loaded up with malware!
The addition of malware detection software, a series of WordPress & WordPress plugin upgrades, the removal & replacement of the before- mentioned application and then a series of scan projects allowed for this website to be rid of its’ malware. The site was then submitted to and accepted by Google in good standing. For this company, it was a temporary traffic & sales death penalty not to mention a completely nerve- racking experience.
Believe it or not, it happens every single day. Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook, Drupal, NBC … the list goes on … have all been hacked! Unfortunately, it may be happening to you right now and you just don’t know it yet. These hackers deploy bots to crawl the web and look for vulnerabilities in website, database or application(s) code that allows for invasion with their malicious code. All day long these nefarious bots crawl the world wide web and search for these vulnerable websites. When, for instance, a vulnerable application is identified they pounce… so unless you wish to manage it, best to look for Specialized WordPress Management Host Services.
Revolution Slider: Widely Used WordPress Slider Plugin Application Hacked!
A few years back the Revolution Slider application for WordPress was temporarily unsafe and rumored to have allowed over 100,000 websites to be hacked. While it was fixed and upgrades were released rapidly, people should know that upgrade management (in most cases) did not come rapidly, if at all, AND THAT WAS USER ERROR! WordPress was not the problem and, while the plugin was a temporary problem, the longer term problem is a website owner that fails to manage updating. Today, anything but thorough software management is a big potential problem.
NOTE: The web and its great tools are advancing with or without us! And folks, typical “shared host plans” DO NOT update or manage website software! $10- $25 a month likely doesn’t cover that kind of support.
On WordPress Security: Matt Mullenweg, Co-Creator of WordPress
“As the most widely used CMS ( Content Management System ) in the world, many people use and deploy the open source version of WordPress ( WordPress.org ) in a sub-optimal and insecure way, but the same could be said of Linux, Apache, MySQL, Node, Rails, Java, or any widely-used software. It is possible and actually not that hard to run WordPress in a way that is secure enough for a bank, government site, media site, or anything.”
Why is WordPress the website solution leader, the ‘open source’ or proprietary question?
To start, it is without rival for choice of sophisticated theme (= design) or plugin application (= functionality) choices. WordPress, due to its unified worldwide support, also identifies vulnerability to hack faster than any other solution ever has or could. Versus proprietary content management (CMS) solutions, ‘the power of many’ vested interests proves to be better faster! And unlike proprietary solutions that prioritize their own business first, WordPress allows a marketer to OWN its’ website and accumulated digital web footprint. A marketer is never trapped and can move her website from host to host whenever needed.
Month over month WordPress creators (i.e. plugin application, website theme and core WP code) deploy updates, which may include new features or security updates AND so it requires some management. Often that’s a simple click of a button, but in some circumstances help is necessary. If so, there is never a lack of WordPress support and a timely manageable fix! Themes and plugin applications should be researched, for instance via the WordPress Codex and Envato marketplace. Both offer in- depth reviews, commentary and vetting for a ‘best case scenario’ when searching any business website requirement. Needless to say, Kinetic Knowledge supports general management, development, design and website security for hacked WordPress website owners.