How can I tell if my website has been HACKED?

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Have you ever encountered the Red Screen of Death?

If not, you’re lucky—so far. Not to sound like doomsdayers, but at a rate of 30,000 websites hacked DAILY, it’s probably only a matter of time. But not every hack job is the same, and not every security threat is overt. Sometimes you may not even notice the subtle changes on your website until it’s too late.

Laptop with malware alert

Check out our tips on how to know if your website security has been compromised, and what to do about it.

Level 1A. Content changes without you a single keystroke from you.

As a busy business owner, you probably don’t actually look at your website that often, but it’s critical that you (or someone in your organization) do so regularly.

Mutliple computers and screens with people working

One of the most common (and most sneaky) hack-attack techniques is to gain access to your website and add text links—none of which are related to your business, most of which attempt to peddle illegal goods or services.

Unless your business is selling natural male enhancement (somebody’s got to), chances are these links will stand out after a cursory review, and you can take swift action. Such links are easily removed within your Content Management System (CMS) text editor.

Simply highlight and backspace as you would with any errant copy—but you might want to get a professional involved first, just to be sure that you’re nipping the entire bud, not just one petal.

Level 1B. Unfamiliar plugins running on your website.

Unhappy minion

Plugins are to websites what apps are to smartphones. Software programs written and shared by developers all around the world, plugins are a great way to enhance your website capabilities without custom coding. They’re also a favorite of hackers, who will install their own or others’ nefarious programs onto your site to carry out their ill intentions.

Don’t let them turn your site into an evil minion—keep an eye on your plugins, and clean house if you see any you didn’t install and don’t use.

Level 2A. Long page-load times slowing down performance.

If you’ve dutifully gone to your website to scan for sketchy links or suspicious plugins, but can’t seem to pull it up, you may have a different kind of hacking problem. Various actions a hacker might take can cause your site to load slowly, or not at all.

If you find it frustrating, imagine how your customers feel! You’ve likely been losing business for a while due to website browsers losing patience and giving up. Take action quickly to speed up your site.

Level 2B. Your website has been blacklisted.

Yes, this is as scary as it sounds.When your site is blacklisted it means that it has most definitely been hacked! You’ll be able to tell by Googling the name of your business. If your website does not display at all, chances are good it’s been blacklisted and removed from search engine results. Almost as bad, you may see a small alert message display that says:

Example of hack alert

What to do next?

Research and investigate. Confirm with anyone who has access to your website that they didn’t add the copy, links, or plugins to your website.

Contact your web services provider and ask them to look into the issue as soon as possible.

In extreme cases (like if an extremist group as taken over your homepage—we’ve seen it) you may need to bring down your website. It may seem drastic but at the moment, your site is likely doing your business more harm than good.

Clean house—call TechArk!

More signs of Hacking or Phishing:

  • Malware warning in browser
  • Error screen when trying to visit site
  • Failure to load
  • Your website url redirects to a different website
  • Copy or links in a foreign language (not written by you)
  • Admin area appears same as front
  • Half a hack job—visible and unfinished code snippets in header or footer
  • Site pulled down by your provider
  • Google search console alert
  • Customers calling with strange complaints
  • Site unable to perform simple functions with no explanation
  • Weird log messages
  • New users added
  • Old files recently edited (not by you)

Help! I’ve been Hacked and I get Load Up! Call Team TechArk to save the day.

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