Every time I help a small business owner de-hack their website, my client asks, “Why me?” Hacking feels like a personal attack, but it’s hard to tell from the evidence left behind what a hacker wanted.
I have a theory that some hackers attack batches of small websites to serve a collective purpose, and it's manifesting as siphoning website traffic, installing malicious software, performing black-hat SEO, or stealing credit card information. But that’s not the point.
Did you know that instead of building their own nests, cowbirds just lay their eggs in another bird’s nest? Think of these cowbird eggs as the unwelcome code left behind by your hacker.
The bird that built her own nest will eject the cowbird’s egg if she detects it. The bird does not waste time asking, “Why me?” Instead, she takes action.
Actions to take right away if you think you’ve been hacked:
- Verify the hack. Google can help with that.
- Delete hacked files and restore from a clean copy of your website. Lost? Maybe you should check out my Maintenance Packages.
- Update the system to the latest version. Wordpress users go here. Joomla! users, try this.
- Harden security of your website files. Here are some step-by-step instructions.
- Install a firewall. Wordpress users, consider these. Joomla! users, look at these.
- Backup your data regularly. Lost? Maybe you should check out my Maintenance Packages.
- If the bird does not detect the cowbird’s egg right away, she may end up with an extra mouth to feed. Just as a hacked site’s inserted code will hatch and create problems for you to clean up later.
A hacker’s success depends on their ability to leave the website functional after intruding, to leave it as if nothing is amiss. The cowbird also hopes to leave her eggs without detection. All appears normal, and the owner has no idea.
Regular backups are your best weapon for these more successful hacks too. Some hackers may destroy websites intentionally, perhaps for the fun of it, or for some other unknown reason. You’ll never know why, but it doesn’t matter.
Whatever the truth might be, there is only one way to make sure your website is not used for someone else’s nefarious intentions. Make sure you backup your website on a regular basis. So if you ever get hacked, you can restore your site and not even miss a beat!
Need help dealing with hackers or backing up your website? Set up your free consultation or give us a call at 415.508.7692.