Viewing your website only to notice that something is off is not only unsettling but can cause you to feel immensely stressed and filled with panic, especially if it appears you’ve been hacked and you don’t know by whom.
There is often no indication of the culprit immediately, and that uncertainty can cause website owners and webmasters to act irrationally or improperly while attempting to fix and remedy the hack.
To minimize long-term damage, you must know how to effectively repair any damage that has been done to your website by the hack, including to any content or media you have uploaded and shared.
The first step to repairing the damage is to identify what has been changed and remove it. Check everything, from URL addresses to the overall code of the individual web pages.
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Oftentimes the homepage is changed, updated, or edited to promote the hacker or a message that the hacker is attempting to share and convey.
If you notice any text that is out of place or images and other elements that are loading in unusual spaces, you may have been compromised.
Taking the time to scan through and check your uploaded page files can help to quickly identify out of place changes that may involve hackers.
Another sign is when Google Search or another search engine sends you an alert when you try to visit the page. That means your web page is likely sharing dangerous code such as malware or is undergoing a phishing attack.
An email directly from your web hosting service is another indicator that your website has been hacked or compromised.
Web hosts often scan the websites of their clients to detect potential vulnerabilities as well as malware, viruses, and other unwanted code. They want to protect their web servers and their ability to provide hosting services.
If a web host contacts you, it is likely that they will suspend or cease hosting your live website until the problem is properly identified and remedied.
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Use a website speed checker to test your website’s speed regularly. If your website has been hacked or compromised, you may experience much slower loading times depending on the type of malware or code that has infected the site. The more often you do this, the easier it will be to prevent serious or long-term damage from hacking attempts.
If your website has been hacked or infiltrated by a spammer, you may notice odd changes and new keyword appearances within your Google Analytics or whatever analytic tool you use to track and monitor website stats.
For example, if your website promotes an inpatient alcohol treatment center but now you notice keywords such as “animal and pet accessories,” your website has likely been hacked.
Monitor and track your Google Analytics daily to catch such hacks early. Also, take note of any unexpected or strange spikes in traffic for no apparent reason.
Investigate the traffic source and see if there’s a valid reason why your website may be receiving an influx of users from foreign or unidentifiable places. It could mean your website is a target or already under attack by a hacker or data thief.
Whether you own your servers or buy time from a shared or private web hosting provider, you must have backups for your website in the event of an unexpected deletion, hijack, hacking attempt, or system wipe.
If possible, use a web hosting provider that offers regular and automatic daily site backups. That will limit the amount of damage that a hack can do.
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It is also highly advisable to regularly use a vulnerability scanning tool, regardless of the size of your website.
This will help with monitoring and keep an eye on the overall health and security of your website; verify that your website is currently safe and protected from hackers, and expose your website’s vulnerabilities so you can improve and eliminate them.
Although facing an attempted or successful hack is never stress-free, remain calm.and diligent. Work methodically through the process of repairing your website for the best outcome possible.
While it is not always easy, with the proper knowledge, the right tools, and proper guidance, it is possible to repair the damage to just about any website whether it has been hijacked, hacked, or accessed without permission.
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