You’ve created a website, but suddenly you notice there are a few things that don’t look quite right. Well, unfortunately, it could mean that your website was hacked. It happens! In 2020, there was a major Google security breach. While this news isn’t exactly one to celebrate, it’s also not completely hopeless. Website designers, software engineers, and software security technicians deal with this type of issue all the time. It is a very common occurrence on the internet and needs to be dealt with in order to know, prevent, and deal with. All this said, we have broken down the basics of website hacking, how to know if your website was hacked, and tips on how to prevent future reinfections of your website.
Google Security Breach Options
A big part of website hacking has to do with poorly created passwords. The general rule for picking a password is the longer the better–and make it complicated. This may seem incredibly annoying to do, but due to a Google security breach, they noted that over 4 billion passwords were deemed unsafe and vulnerable to hijacking.
In response to this, Google has set up a new feature for Chrome on Android and IOS called the password checkup extension. The point of the feature is to display a warning anytime your password is deemed risky. Hackers will often purchase thousands of common passwords and then funnel them onto a website so that they don’t have to write out individual passwords one-by-one.
According to Google insights taken from an early experiment conducted after the breach, 21 million passwords were deemed unfit in the first month. These passwords can include:
In order to prevent website hacking and data breach, Google recommends having a password manager and creating passwords that aren’t common. Also, refrain from using personal information in passwords like birthdays, mother’s name, addresses, and pet’s names. Anything that would be an answer to a security question should not be used as a password.
The Basics Of Website Hacking
In this article, we will do a deep-dive of website hacking, but in order to really understand the information, starting with the basics is a great start. There is a lot of internet jargon, coding acronyms, and technical terminology, so we will lay out the most common forms and words associated with website hacking.
Common Hacking Software
There is certain software that hackers often use in order to hack a website or computer. Some are more common than others, but in this article, we will list the ones that are the greatest threat to websites. It’s important to know the basics of website hacking software in order to know how to identify and prevent it.
Malware is a catch-all term used for malicious software. This software is often used for hacking purposes and to exploit data. Malware can come in many different forms, but the basic term used as an umbrella term for the various, specific hacking software used. Common malware hacking software includes:
- SEO Spam
Hackers use malware in many different ways in order to access data and information from websites. A few popular ways that this can be done, and ways you should look out for, is via text messages, unfamiliar plug-ins, malicious advertising, e-mail attachments, and fake software installations.
An example of this is a friend sending you an email asking you to click a link of a photo that has the both of you in it, but when you click the link it is actually just a virus that was sent through that attached link. This is why hacking is so common. A simple link passed via a trustworthy friend can all of the sudden be disastrous for your computer.
Why Hackers Use Malware
Since malware is an all encompassing software that gives hackers a multitude of abilities, it is one of the most popular hacking software. These are a few examples of why hackers use malware:
- Phishing, which is when someone attempts to entice another person to click on a bad link. Through this, hackers can steal data, personal information, etc.
- Stolen financial data. This can include: credit card, bank, and personal information.
- DOS, Denial of Service, which is a term used to explain when hackers shut down a website and prevent authorized users from entering their own system.
Has My Site Been Hacked?
Now that you know the basics of hacking software, you can use this information to figure out if your website has been hacked. There are many signs that can allude to your website being hacked, but here are the most common.
If you’re on your website and you see content that you or another authorized user didn’t post, it’s a good bet that your website has been hacked. This content can come in multiple forms: SEO hacking, malicious plug-ins, or hijacked advertisements. Doing constant checkups on your website can prevent hacked content from staying on a page longer than necessary. If there is new, offensive content on your website, it can drive customers away and decrease loyalty thus putting a damaging burden on your business.
A common symptom of a hacked website will be a slow performing website. On average, people will only spend 3 seconds on a website if it is slow. This means your web traffic will decrease astronomically if it isn’t deemed functional.
When hackers take over a website, Google can blacklist your site. This is incredibly damaging to your business because this means no one can find you. A way to know if you’re blacklisted is if you type your URL into Google, a message will pop up below your website saying, “this site might be hacked.”
Another way for you to know if your site is blacklisted is if you click on your URL and a red sign pops up warning against entering into the website. This, for obvious reasons, is something that needs to be taken care of immediately.
Along with a blacklisted site, having your account suspended on a website is incredibly frustrating. As stated above, DOS, or denial of service, is something hackers will do to prevent you from entering into your own account. Through this, they can use ransomware to make you pay to get your website back.
Like strange content, this can also be a tell that your website has been hacked. This is a lot more obvious and can have a more harmful effect. A lot of hackers will plug their own views onto other websites that can potentially drive away customers. Hackers will often go through backdoors to interrupt code on the website that can be difficult to undo.
A common thing hackers will put on to a site is a website redirect. What this does is redirect viewers to another site. These redirected sites are usually inappropriate websites and can result in a blacklisting of the website via Google. It’s important to stay on top of any links or plug-ins that seem off or need updating so this doesn’t escalate into an issue.
What Do I Do If My Website Has Been Hacked?
In order to get a hold of your website and regain control, you will need to follow these steps:
- Investigate your website thoroughly: check links, plug-ins, advertisements, etc. in order to understand what the hacker has done.
- Shut off access to your website: this seems obvious, but many people will try to regain control and keep the website running. This is a mistake and will only confuse customers.
- Clean up the website: Contact a cyber security engineer or website developer that can properly clean up the website. Depending on the type of malware used to infect your website, it might be too timely and difficult to do on your own.
- Prevent future attacks: taking proper precautions to make sure that your site doesn’t get reinfected is crucial. Many times, hackers will leave behind a code that you might not be aware of when cleaning your site and they are able to re hack all over again.
Hacked Website Lists
The website, havibeenpwned.com, allows for users of technology to see which websites have been hacked and when. This is useful information to be aware of if you’re a constant browser. They also display knowledgeable information that is relevant to preventing your own website from being hacked.
Google Tools To Help Prevent Website Hacking
A Google tool designed to check the status of a website is the Google Search Console. To do this:
- Go to the security and manual actions tab
- Click on security issues
- Check the status of your website’s report
Another Google tool that checks your website’s status is Google’s Safe Browsing Tool. To use this, you will need to:
- Click on site status
- Enter a website’s URL
- Check the status of your website’s report
For more information like this, check out SEO Design Chicago’s digital marketing blog for useful information that can help you and your business!
FAQs: Has My Site Been Hacked?
- What are signs that my website has been hacked?
- What to do after my website is hacked?
- How do I check if my website was hacked?
- What is malware?
- What is the Google password checkup extension?