Finding out that your website has been exposed to a digital predator can be a stressful situation. Particularly if you use it to gather personal or financial information about your audience, it's easy to panic.
A more productive approach, of course, is to immediately begin to think of ways you can fix and secure your website once again.
To make that possible, you first need to know how the hack happened in the first place. Here are 5 of the most common reasons your WordPress website has been hacked.
1) Outdated Scripts
Accessing your scripts is among the easiest way hackers can gain entrance to your site and its code. Scripts likely control much of what makes your website both beautiful and functional, but if they become outdated, you may have a problem on your hands.
Keeping scripts around past their use could be one culprit for the hack. So could be using a script that worked 3 years ago, but may no longer be safe. Updating your scripts and only keeping those you still need for your site to operate helps keep your website safe from any cyber attacks.
2) Using Vulnerable Plugins and Themes
The greatest strength of WordPress is also its greatest potential vulnerability. Thousands of themes and plugins allow individuals and businesses of all sizes to use a template platform to create a unique website. Not all of these third party tools, however, are secure.
While you may fall prey to a theme specifically designed to be hacked, that nightmare scenario is actually unlikely. More likely, you use a theme or plugin that does not get updated, becoming vulnerable over time. Using only trusted sources is crucial, as is working with a design firm that knows which plugins and themes are safe and which are not.
3) Lack of Website Security
Integrated into your website strategy should be a security plan that ensures it always stays up to date. From your CMS to the code itself, always make sure that you have a plan in place that requires regular updates. Antiviral applications are also important in making sure that your website does not suddenly become prone to an attack.
4) Server Hacks
In addition to being under threat through its own code, your website may also be vulnerable because of the server on which it lives. Particularly if you share server space with other websites (and most small businesses do), you may become the indirect victim of a hack directed at the server instead of your site specifically.
Think of it as living in an apartment building: securing your apartment is a crucial part of staying safe, but if someone breaks into the building itself, they are halfway there. To prevent server vulnerabilities, make sure that your web host keeps its firewalls and security up to date.
5) Compromised Access
Finally, your website may have been hacked in a way that has nothing to do with its structure or server. Instead, the target may have been your personal account. If your personal computer gets hacked, the culprit may have stolen login information that enables them to access the site and all of its information.
Alternatively, you may have fallen prey to a fishing email that tricked you into giving up your login information. In either case, the fix fortunately is relatively simple: update your personal information as quickly as you can. As soon as you change your passwords, the hacker will no longer have access to your WordPress account and website.
When your website is hacked, you need to take action. But you can't take action until you know just how the hackers gained access. For help in keeping your WordPress website secure, and to react quickly if it does become compromised, contact us.