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What To Know About Hacked Websites

What To Know About Hacked WebsitesHacks are a common issue that website owners and administrators often face. This frustrating scenario can happen to any site, from some of the world’s most popular websites to those that only generate a few visits a month. These security concerns don’t discriminate, and as a website owner, you need to understand how and why your website may be vulnerable to hacks.

Your hosting provider is often the first to alert you that you have a hacked website. If the host’s monitoring system sees suspicious activity originating from their web server, then they will work to identify the source and alert the owner. In some cases, they may be able to correct the issue for you, but if not, they will require you to take action to secure your site.

Why Was My Website Hacked?

A common reason why websites are hacked is that website owners fail to implement proper security protocols. As someone who owns or manages a website, you should always ensure that you are using secure passwords when accessing your site. Keep any password information secured safely, where it is not easily accessible to others. Always ensure that you are accessing sites with secure connections, and try not to log in to your site’s vulnerable parts on public internet connections.

Though these safety efforts go a long way in preventing a security breach, your website may still be hacked. When a hack happens, even though you’ve ensured that your information and website are secure, you may wonder why this has happened to you.

I Thought My Website Was Secure - So How Was I Hacked?

If your website is powered by a content management system, also known as a CMS, or some other type of web application, and you don’t keep that up-to-date, your site may get hacked.

Like any piece of software, a web application will have regular updates published. Some updates help to improve the functionality of the software, while others are published to address known security vulnerabilities that could allow a hacker to take control of your website behind the scenes.

When a website is hacked, it may or may not be outwardly apparent. For example, some common hacks focus on delivering content specifically to Google and other search engines without changing the appearance of the public website. If you look at your website, you won’t see the hack. But if Google Bot or another search engine crawls the website, they will detect code that links to malicious websites.

Another common hack that you won’t see on your website allows the hackers to simply send emails from your domain. This code lives behind-the-scenes and can be triggered at any time to send out hundreds or thousands of spam emails that look like they’re coming from your website. Not only can this damage your business’s reputation, but it could be cause for your host to shut down your website.

While there are tools that can automatically scan your website and look for common exploits, they don’t always reveal all problems. There are certain common hacks that these bots can easily identify, but hackers are constantly updating their methods, and the automated tools won’t be able to catch brand-new approaches.

The best fix if your website is hacked is using a combination of automated tools along with web security experts who know what to look for to identify vulnerabilities. Additionally, monitoring systems are extremely useful to alert you to changes in your website code that could indicate hacking.

How Do I Know If My CMS Is Vulnerable To Hacks?

One reason that a website CMS can be vulnerable to hacking is that new updates are not applied. In most cases, applying an update is really as simple as clicking a button. However, the update may be problematic sometimes. You may lose your website data when attempting an update, or you may find that updating your CMS isn’t as simple as clicking a button.

Of course, you should always back up your entire website before attempting an update to prevent a loss of data. Some updates are going to be more complicated and require expert help. An example of this would be when updating an older version of the Joomla CMS. Although one-click updates were introduced in later versions, the older Joomla 1.5 and 2.5 versions require a complete migration to be updated to the current version.

A migration involves moving data from one database to another and making updates to the software code for the new version to function properly. Migrations can be done yourself, though employing the help of a professional website developer can make this process much easier and more secure.

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