A hacked WordPress site can be a nightmare for website owners. Even a simple hack can result in lost data, damaged reputation, reduction in search traffic, and often financial loss. If your WordPress site has been hacked, it is crucial to take immediate action to restore and secure it to prevent future incidents.
In this article we will guide you through the steps to recover your hacked site, as well as some tips and best practices to avoid future security breaches.
What to Do After Your WordPress Site Has Been Hacked
Step 1: Identify the Hack
When your WordPress site has been hacked, you might see some signs, such as:
- Suspicious user accounts with administrative privileges.
- Unusual redirects, pop-ups, or spammy links on your site.
- Unfamiliar or modified files in your site’s directory.
- A sudden drop in site performance or traffic.
- Google warnings about your site being unsafe.
- Spam email reports hitting your hosts management panel.
Step 2: Isolate and Assess the Damage
Before proceeding with the recovery process, isolate your site to prevent further damage and avoid spreading malware:
- Take your site offline temporarily, either by enabling maintenance mode or contacting your hosting provider to do so.
- Change all passwords, including those for your WordPress account, hosting account, and FTP credentials.
- Check for unkown acounts in your WordPress dashboard, hosting account, and email services.
- Create a full backup of your site, including all files and databases, to assess the damage and aid in the recovery process.
Step 3: Clean Up and Restore
In an ideal world, you’ll be able to restore a clean backup of your site if available. If not,
Begin the process of cleaning up your hacked WordPress site by following these steps:
- Update your WordPress core, themes, and plugins to their latest versions. Outdated software can contain security vulnerabilities that hackers exploit.
- Scan your website for malware and vulnerabilities using security tools like Wordfence, Sucuri, or MalCare. (These tools can also help clean up your code, although they may charge a fee to do this).
- Remove any malicious code, unfamiliar files, or suspicious user accounts detected during the scan.
- If you are suspicious of certain areas of your site dispalying hacked content, check posts within WordPress, and check related template files, you can compare a “clean” downloaded version of our theme against whats live on your website by using a code or text comparison tool.
- Check and clean your .htaccess file to remove any malicious redirects or other modifications.
- Rescan your site regularly over the next few days, there’s always a risk you missed something that will allow hackers to regain control of your site, if this happens you may need to hire a proffesional service to clean your site, or create a new account for your website and start from scratch – both expensive, but potentially necessary measures.
How to Avoid Being Hacked in the Future
To minimize the chances of your WordPress site getting hacked again, implement these security best practices:
- Use strong, unique passwords for all accounts associated with your site, and change them regularly.
- Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) for your WordPress and hosting accounts.
- Keep your WordPress core, themes, and plugins up to date, and remove any unnecessary or unsupported plugins.
- Install a reputable security plugin to monitor your site for malware, suspicious activity, and vulnerabilities.
- Limit the number of user accounts with administrative privileges and enforce strict user role policies.
- Implement proper file permissions and directory security on your server.
- Use SSL to encrypt data transmitted between your server and users’ browsers.
- Regularly back up your site, including files and databases, and store the backups in a secure location. Plugins such as Updraft can make this automated and easy.
Having your WordPress site hacked is a frustrating to say the least, not to mention expensive and time consuming to fix. Hopefully the steps outlined above will help you recover and protect your site from future attacks in the future. But remember, keeping your WordPress site secure requires vigilance and consistent effort, but it will save you a huge amount of time, effort, and worry in the future!