Cleaning up a Hacked Website

Hacked

I’ve been hacked!

Hackers attack websites for a variety of purposes. Apart from defacement hacks more and more sites are becoming targets for criminals attempting to steal data – passwords, bank account details etc. There are numerous articles which describe such attacks, and that type of hack requires immediate specialist intervention and assistance. While this article here deals specifically with defacement hacks, the resources recommended here are equally applicable to all website hacking situations.

I hope that readers haven’t had the following experience. Here’s a typical scenario:
“I’ll just have a quick look at my website” and you go to it and are just stopped in your tracks. “Hey, that’s not my site. I must have typed in the wrong URL … Oh No! It is my site and it’s been defaced”! It’s not a pleasant experience and one’s level of annoyance is partially determined by the nature of the content that the hacker has excreted onto the site.

There are many reasons why hackers deface websites and few of them are related to the website owner or the site’s subject matter. In other words, it’s rarely anything that the website owner has done to upset the hacker. Apart from hackers who are keen to demonstrate their (often excellent) knowledge and skills to themselves and their friends and compatriots, there are other types. For example, people who want to push out some message or other to the world at large, but by the very nature of the message they are afraid to be identified with it. They can be compared to cuckoos – they go out and lay their eggs in another bird’s nest.

Irrespective of all that, what do you do when you’re faced with having to clean up the mess, particularly if you’ve little or no experience in this area? First, don’t panic!
Second, read this article here by Will Bontrager of Willmaster Software and follow the detailed sequence of recommended steps.

Your Saviour!

Your Saviour!

Will’s Website has to be one of the very best resources anywhere for website development information and for extremely useable and valuable software. It’s a real gold mine of proven website-related software and tools and I can’t recommend it strongly enough. For a nominal subscription to the members-only “WebSite’s Secrets” area many of the premium tools and software are available for free. The subscription also provides members with significant discounts on all tools and products.
Now, before you ask, I have zero vested commercial or financial interest in this. Nor is Will ‘an old buddy from way back’ or anything like that. My recommendation is based solely on my own experience over the last couple of years. To make Will even more big-headed, the support is the best ever and goes way beyond the norm.

So, now you’ve worked through all the checklist items in the article and are starting to feel more relaxed. Fine, but what about the next time your website is hacked? While one can’t plug every possible current or future security hole on a site, at least there’s a way to make the cleanup job much easier and more comprehensive should there be a next time. Download and install Will’s ‘Hacker Alert Software’ on your website. It works with normal sites and WordPress sites. It checks every file on your site on a scheduled basis and alerts you immediately by email if any file has been changed. This has to be the best investment you, as a website owner or manager, can make. It’ll point to exactly those files that have been tampered with and will save you many hours of work should your site ever suffer a hacking attack.

A final point. It really pays to host your website with an ISP or hosting company that will provide rapid support in the event that you need urgent help. One more recommendation from me: www.australianwebsites.com. I’ve used them for years and their support is excellent – even at 9:00pm on a Sunday night!!

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