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What to Do if Your Website is Hacked

Published on 7/29/2010 by

Computer hackers have been around since the invention of computers.  Early hackers used their skills to steal credit card information or right what they considered to be social wrongs.  Today's computer hackers are still up to their old tricks, but they now also inject malicious code into websites or deface them altogether.

How to know if your site has been hacked

There are telltale signs that your website may have been hacked.  The most common include:

  • When trying to go to your site, your browser or Google tells you that there is malware on your domain.
  • You receive emails from loyal visitors informing you of virus or trojan warnings they received while on your site.
  • Your website is redirected to another site.
  • Your homepage is not your own.

What to do after you’ve been hacked

There are a number of steps to take once you've discovered that your website has been hacked.  Shared web hosting clients should follow these steps to get their website back online.

1.  Take a screenshot of your website. 

Browse to your website, hit "print screen" on your computer keyboard and paste that information into your image editor.  Save the file and tuck it away for a few moments.

2.  Try to connect to your control panel. 

If you can successfully login to your web hosting control panel, do so, and change your password immediately.

3.  FTP

Login by FTP with your new password, upload the backup copy of your website and download any pages that may have been added.  (You can also do this in your control panel, if you prefer.)

4.  Contact your webhost

Once your website has been restored, contact your webhost and let them know what's happened.  Be sure to email a copy of the screenshot you took earlier, along with pages that were added to your site by hackers.  Your host will want to go through your website logs to determine how a hacker gained access to your website and what other damage they may have done while there.

In the event that you cannot login to your control panel or by FTP, contact your host immediately.  Your web host will be able to restore your account to its original form.

How to prevent your website from being hacked

1.  Keep software up to date.

Software updates patch holes and provide bug fixes, which lock hackers out.  Keep all software on your hosting account up to date.

2.  Use the 30 day password rule.

Always pick strong passwords.  Never use the same password for your website that you use for other accounts.  For extra protection, follow the 30 day password rule and change your password once a month.

Once your website has been hacked, the damage may not be over.  If your site was redirected for an extended period of time or was reported as being infected with a virus, you now have some cleanup to do.

Visit Stop Badware

Go to Stop Badware and see if your site has been listed in their database of hacked sites.  If your domain is there, you’ll need to apply for a review to have it removed from the database.

Check your site on Safe Web

Norton Safe Web is another database that stores information about hacked and infected websites.  Search the database for your domain.  If you’re already listed, you’ll need to contact Norton and let them know your site is once again safe.

Safe web hosting!