How and why hackers gain access to your website

Having your website hacked is one of the biggest nightmares for any website owner. Your site is shut down and traffic plummets. Finding and fixing the problem is hard work, however, not as hard as winning back your audience’s trust or getting your site off spam blacklists. While getting hacked is never pleasant, it is much more common than you would think. Hundreds of thousands of websites are hacked each year, and the numbers are increasing each year.

Owners of smaller websites often think themselves an unlikely target for hackers, after all why would anyone care about your tiny site? What could hackers possibly have to gain from compromising it? However, when it comes to being hacked, size or popularity are not the deciding factors. It’s not about your site in particular or you personally. Most sites get hacked merely because it’s possible. For mere mortals like us, most of the time hackers go for our sites because we give them an opening, unknowingly as it may be. Therefore, it’s not about logic or whether it makes sense to hack your site. No matter how small or insignificant your website, it is always a viable target.

One of the main reasons hackers don’t differentiate between the sites of different sizes is that attacks are almost always done automatically. If you think someone typed your site address into a browser bar and had a good snoop around til they found something, you’d be wrong. This type of approach would be completely uneconomic from a hacker’s point of view. Instead, just like search engines, hackers use bots to crawl the net. However, instead of indexing content, their bots sniff out known vulnerabilities. Automating the process allows hackers to attack many sites at once and thus increase their odds of success dramatically. Thus, if your site gets hacked, it’s probably because it popped up on the radar of an automated script, not because someone consciously decided to target you.

Why would anyone put in that effort? What do they get out of it?

If your website does not contain any government secrets or other people’s banking information, why would they be interested in your site? It’s because hacking your site could benefit individuals with bad intentions in different ways:

  • Drive-by-downloads — Hackers can use your site to infect your visitors’ computers with malware like back doors, key trackers, ransomware, viruses, or other malicious software in order to capture information they can use for their own gain.
  • Redirections — Sometimes hackers will redirect visitors from your site to other websites that generate affiliate income for them.
  • System resources — Another possibility is that they take over your server and use the hardware for sending out spam emails, performing denial of service or brute force attacks and more. Of course, this will easily get your server — and your site — put on a blacklist.

As you can see, your site is interesting to hackers no matter its size or popularity. Therefore, every website owner is a potential victim.

The impacts of a compromise

A website owner’s biggest fear is having their site hacked and subsequently blacklisted by Google. Being compromised can ruin the entire image an organization has built, losing credibility.

When a compromise happens it can lead to a tremendous amount of anxiety and frustration. Impacts can include website blacklisting, reduced SEO rankings, visitor compromise, brand reputation, financial loss and emotional distress.

i4websitedesign sites are protected

I harden WordPress installs to make them more bullet proof. I also make use firewall protection and intrusion prevention system, and I run 24/7 security monitoring to scan your website for exploits, attacks, blacklisting and file changes. Detection and response protocols are in place so that you can focus on running your business while I take care of your website.

If you’ve had your website hacked get in touch because I can help! Visit this page for more information: hacked-wordpress-website-cleanup


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