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What to Do if Your Site has been Hacked
Linda explains how to handle that situation
What if you uploaded a blog, committed to backups, installed all the right plugins (like a firewall) and kept WordPress up to date and still get hacked? In this article, Linda explains how to handle that situation.
Expect a Hack
If you're running a WordPress (WP) blog, you can expect to a hack attempt. Even the least visited WP site on the Web has potential for a hacker's experiments. While I mentioned in earlier articles what you might do to avoid an attack on your blog or your database, I want to approach this subject again in more depth, with plenty of links to get you straight on what you need to do if you're hacked, and what you can do to prevent harm to your site.
The problem with hacking is that you may experience one of four (or more) problems, and two of them may not be immediately visible to you:
1.Your site is hacked, but you don't know it. The way you find out is through friends who tell you that your site isn't showing up (although you can see it just fine because of your cache).
2.Your site is hacked, and you still don't know it, until your Web host contacts you to let you know that either your blog or someone else's blog/database has been compromised.
3.You see immediately that your site has been hacked, but no one else seems to notice.
4.It's apparent to all concerned, including you, that your site has gone missing or is replaced by the Dr. Doom Death Flag ( I made that up).
I'll cover all four issues below, along with a wide variety of solutions to help you overcome simple attacks against your site.
If your site has been hacked, and you found this article in hopes that I might have some solutions for you, the best thing I can say to you right now is: "Take a deep breath and calm down." Whatever the issue, you may be able to reconstruct your site before night falls. In the meantime, you need to stay calm so you don't make any mistakes.
First Step: Scan YOUR Machine
Sometimes, you may be the culprit behind your 'hack' by introducing malware through a compromised computer system (desktop, laptop, mobile, etc.), especially if you're running a PC and/or a Windows system. Run a full anti-virus / malware scan on all machines that you use to upload information to your blog.
You may need to change virus software, if your machine allows you to do so (some viruses prevent users from deploying new anti-virus software), to check your machine. Your current software may not have caught the hack. If you cannot upload new software to test your machine, take it to a professional to get their opinion.
Check with Your Hosting Provider
I host with Media Temple, and they recently came under attack and it affected many blogs on their servers (the same attackers also hit other servers, not just MT). Since they use shared servers, this was a spectacular problem. But, Media Temple took it on, checking everyone's databases and changing the system so that it is more difficult to gain access to those databases.
In another case, another blogger had made his site vulnerable, and the database attack spread across the container where all my blogs were located. I lost many images, databases and sites, which needed to be rebuilt. Shared servers ARE an issue; however, it's a trade-off for a busy site, as shared servers can carry the weight of a spike in traffic, heavy traffic and ease of use.
It's up to you to decide which server you want to use. I'm staying with MT, as they are tops at what they do, and their service department is the best I've ever dealt with. But, I also use other tools to safeguard my sites, and I'll let you know about those tools in a moment.
Linda Goin carries an A.A. in graphic design, a B.F.A. in visual communications with a minor in business and marketing and an M.A. in American History with a minor in the Reformation. While the latter degree doesn't seem to fit with the first two educational experiences, Linda used her 25-year design expertise on archaeological digs and in the study of material culture. Now she uses her education and experiences in social media experiments.
Accolades for her work include fifteen first-place Colorado Press Association awards, numerous fine art and graphic design awards, and interviews about content development with The Wall St. Journal, Chicago Tribune, Psychology Today, and L.A. Times.
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