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How To Fix a Hacked WordPress Website Or A Blog

To begin with, there’s no need to panic; the shock of discovering that your hacked WordPress website has fallen victim to a hack is certainly distressing. Picture waking up one day and finding out that your trusted WordPress site has been compromised. This situation ranks among the most unsettling ones an online content creator or business owner can face. Despite the fact that WordPress enjoys widespread use, it remains one of the most frequently targeted content management systems (CMS) by malicious actors.

Security has become an utmost priority for website and blog owners. At times, the seemingly innocent use of free themes or plugins for WordPress can inadvertently introduce unchecked vulnerabilities into a website, jeopardizing its security and leaving it compromised. When faced with such a predicament, it’s crucial to know how to respond and take action to regain control of your web application.

In fact, the alarming reality is that on a daily basis, approximately 30,000 websites around the world fall victim to hacking attempts, and a significant 43% of these attacks are directed at small businesses. According to Sucuri’s annual report on compromised websites, WordPress emerged as the CMS most frequently targeted by hackers in 2022. Shockingly, WordPress websites accounted for over 96.2% of reported infections, as per Sucuri’s findings. This underscores the critical need for robust security measures and proactive steps to protect your WordPress-powered online presence.

Recognizing the Signs of a Hacked WordPress Website

Before moving on to the solutions, it’s critical to comprehend the typical indications that a WordPress website has been compromised. Identifying these symptoms can significantly mitigate potential damage.

Suspicious Content – If you notice unauthorized or irrelevant content appearing on your website, such as spammy ads, unrelated posts, or unfamiliar links, it’s a red flag. These unauthorized alterations to your site’s content can indicate a breach of security protocols.

Sudden Drop in Traffic – A sudden and unexplained decrease in website traffic can indicate a security breach. Visitors might be avoiding your site due to security concerns. Monitoring your website’s traffic patterns can help you detect irregularities. 

Check your Google Search Console for updates on abrupt traffic drops or penalties, Additionally, check your Google Search Console and Google Analytics for any notifications from Google.

Changes in User Accounts – Unauthorized access can lead to alterations in user accounts, such as new admin users or unauthorized password changes. Checking user account logs and activity can reveal unusual modifications.

Error Messages – Frequent error messages, especially when navigating your website, can indicate malicious code interfering with site functionality. These errors may manifest as 404 Page Not Found errors, SQL database errors, or even browser warnings.

404 Error

Google Blacklist Warning – If Google flags your website as potentially harmful to visitors, it’s a strong indication of a security breach. Google may display a warning in search results, advising users not to visit your site due to detected security issues.

Google monitors all websites on a regular basis for viruses, fraudulent information, redirecting links and adverts, and so on.

When Google discovers dangerous information or files on a website that might jeopardize a visitor’s security, it instantly displays the Google blacklist notice for the page.

Hacked WordPress

Unexplained Resource Consumption – Your website may experience excessive server resource usage or slow loading times due to malicious activities. These resource-intensive actions can include attempts to send spam, launch DDoS attacks, or perform cryptocurrency mining.

How to Resolve a Hacked WordPress Website

The first step when you discover your WordPress website has been hacked is to remain calm. While it’s natural to feel upset, panicking won’t help. As a website owner myself, I understand the frustration, but it’s essential to focus on resolving the issue. Take a deep breath and prepare to recover your website. If you need time to fix the WordPress hack, consider putting your site in maintenance mode.

  • Scan for Malware: Use security plugins like Sucuri or Wordfence to scan your website for malware. These plugins can identify malicious code and help you remove it.
  • Restore from Backup: If you have a recent backup, restore your website from it. Ensure the backup is clean and doesn’t contain any malicious code before restoring.
  • Check File Integrity: Verify the integrity of your core WordPress files. You can do this by comparing them to the original files from the official WordPress repository.
  • Remove Suspicious Users and Accounts: Check your WordPress user accounts for any suspicious or unfamiliar entries. Delete any unauthorized users.
  • Secure Your Hosting Environment: Strengthen your hosting environment by updating server software, configuring a web application firewall, and implementing security best practices recommended by your hosting provider.

To tackle the problem, follow these steps:

Put your Website in Maintenance Mode

Once you’ve confirmed the hack, it’s crucial to put your website in maintenance mode. This prevents users from accessing your site until the issue is resolved. The wp-config.php file modification that follows can help you do this:

  • Access your website’s files.
  • Locate and open the wp-config.php file.
  • Insert the following code before “That’s all, quit editing!”:

define(‘WP_MAINTENANCE’, true);

  • Save and upload the modified wp-config.php file.

Remember to remove the code once you’ve completed the maintenance. 

Examine Your Hacked WordPress Website

Backdoors are frequently created by hackers in order to obtain remote access to your website. Use external remote scanners to protect your site from potential threats. These scanners aid in locating the hack. Manual scans are also an option.

Some scanning tools are:

Sitecheck: Enter your URL to detect malware and hacking.

VirusTotal: Examine questionable files, domains, IP addresses, and URLs.

Reset Your Passwords

Updating your WordPress passwords is the next critical step. Reset passwords for FTP, databases, hosting accounts, CMS admin accounts, cPanel, and other related accounts that share the same password with your hosting account.

To reset passwords using WordPress Admin Password:

  • Visit your WordPress login page.
  • Click on “Lost your password?” or “Forgot your password?” link.
  • Enter your username or email associated with the admin account.
  • Follow the link in your inbox to set a new password.

FTP Password:

  • Use an FTP client or log into the control panel for your hosting account.
  • Navigate to the FTP or FTP accounts section.
  • Choose the FTP account to reset the password.
  • Find the option to change or reset the password.
  • Save the changes by entering a new password.

Database Password:

  • Access your hosting account’s control panel or use phpMyAdmin.
  • Locate the database management section.
  • Open your WordPress database.
  • Find the wp_users table (or similar).
  • Edit or browse the row corresponding to your username.
  • Replace the existing password with a new one and save it.

Hosting Account Password:

  • Log in to your hosting provider’s website.
  • Navigate to account or security settings.
  • Change or reset the account password as instructed.

cPanel Password:

  • Go to your hosting provider’s website and log in.
  • Access the cPanel section.
  • Find in the ‘search tool’ name – Password & Security.
  • Enter a new password and save.

Final Say

A hacked WordPress website can be a distressing experience, but with the right knowledge and actions, you can regain control, remove malware, and prevent future breaches. 

Remember to stay proactive in securing your site to safeguard your online presence and the trust of your visitors and customers.

FAQs on Hacked WordPress Website

1. Can I Fix a Hacked WordPress Website Without Professional Help?

In many cases, yes. This guide’s instructions offer a thorough method for safeguarding and cleaning up your website. However, for complex or severe compromises, seeking professional assistance is recommended to ensure all vulnerabilities are addressed.

2. How Can I Prevent Future Hacks?

Preventing future hacks involves continuous vigilance. Always keep your WordPress core, themes, and plugins updated, use strong passwords, implement security plugins, and regularly back up your website. Additionally, consider a web application firewall (WAF) for an added layer of protection.

3. What Should I Do If I Suspect My WordPress Website Is Hacked?

If you suspect a hack, follow the steps outlined in this guide immediately to isolate, remove, and secure your website. Delaying action can lead to further damage and potential data loss.

4. How Can I Monitor My Website’s Security?

To monitor your website’s security, regularly use security plugins, monitor login activity, set up alerts for suspicious behavior, and schedule routine security audits. Staying proactive is key to a secure online presence.

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