If you own a website – and a very popular one, there is a good chance that you will be targeted by attackers. This doesn’t come as a surprise to some website owners especially those who hold very pivotal information such as credit card number and address. But even if you don’t keep these info on your database, it doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t secure your website or at least know the dangers of having one. If your website is powered by WordPress, here are the common WordPress website risks that you should know.
Deface Your Website or Take It Offline
One of the most common WordPress website risks that you may encounter is also one of the most alarming and scariest; have your website’s content replaced with the hacker’s own malicious or offensive content. This happens very often with government websites that are attacked by terrorist groups and the like. Visitors of the site will immediately know that the site is hacked because of the drastic changes and blatant content. Attackers do this to simply deliver their message across to the public.
On some cases, attackers take down websites as their means of attacking. According to some research on hacked sites, taking down is just a result of a botched hacker’s attempt to get inside your website and accidentally took the site down during the process.
Hackers and attackers surely are an intelligent bunch because they always find ways to hack your site and get all the resources they need. And not even your SEO is spared since this is one way that they can make their website improve in the search engine rankings.
So how do they do it? They simply host pages on your domain, taking all the benefits of your Domain Authority and pristine reputation. Then, they will put links throughout your site to the site(s) they want to provide some SEO boost. This is highly effective because backlinks are a very crucial factor of SEO.
SEO Spam is also known as “pharma hack”, since it’s being used for some time now to give pharmaceutical sales sites some boost in rankings.
Spam has been an occurring issue being dealt by site owners for a long time now. According to a report, more than 50% of all email traffic on the Internet was spam back in December 2015. For WordPress survey respondents, almost 20% of comprised WordPress sites are used to send spam email all over.
So why do attackers do this? Two reasons: They can leech on your server resources for free and their email delivery system take advantage of your domain and IP address until your site’s reputation is ruined. You may not feel the effects of spam emails now but in the long run it will slow your site’s performance or it will cause the server utilization to go up.
Isn’t that the login page of your favorite social media website? Probably not – it’s a phishing page! Phishing pages are created to fool the user into providing sensitive information. That is why you should be wary when you put any personal information on the Internet such as your email address, username, and password. This is also important when you try to send out credit card information; you don’t want to be a victim of identity theft, right? Click here to learn other examples of phishing.
At least once in your life you have been redirected to a website that made you wonder why you’re even there. Redirects are very effective to lure traffic to malicious websites in a blink of an eye. Nope, there’s no link to click or an advertisement that pops up; once you’re in a page you’re automatically sent there. To make it a bit more aggressive, attackers use ways to avoid detection. Their goal for doing this is actually simple; to drive traffic to their malicious website.
User Data Theft
WordPress has talked to users and, even though most of them agree that attackers want to steal their data among other things, it is a surprise that only one percent of their respondents reported it. This is probably because most WordPress sites do not store important data beyond user credentials and perhaps email addresses. There has been a rise on data theft cases lately and insiders are to blame.
Like mentioned, user data is one of the things that attackers are aiming for. Stolen data like email addresses and access info are used for spamming. What is more alarming is when credit card information will be stolen as well – that won’t be good news.
One of the common WordPress website risks is the malware distribution. This happens when the attacker installs malware that will also install malware on your website’s visitor’s computers stealthily. Although it may affect your users at large, this also poses a great threat on you as a site owner. How? Once Google finds out that this is happening, your website will be flagged via their safe browsing program. This, in turn, will cause your SEO traffic to drop significantly.
Although only a few cases were reported on this problem, the effect can be very brutal and takes a long time for you to recover. Attackers do this to steal vital information from your website as well from your user’s.
This rarely happens but sometimes attackers use your website as a platform to launch attacks on other websites. Attackers do this so that they can have free use of your servers for their vicious intents. Although most of the time attackers are not successful with this kind of method, this will eventually ruin the reputation of your website.
Host Malicious Content
Oftentimes, there are sites that are used by attackers to host malicious files that they can gather from other servers. They are doing this in the stealthiest fashion so you may never even know that you’re hosting a malicious content. Attackers do this because, again, they want to do their dirty deeds spending the least money possible. If you won’t take a look on this, your site’s reputation will be at risk.
Are you familiar with Google Analytics? Then you might have heard of the referrer spam. This is a bot traffic to your site that is set to look like it’s coming from a fake referrer. This is to make you curious to check out where the traffic is coming from, which will then bring traffic to their own site. Attackers do this because, for the nth time, they want to use your server free of charge and run under a clean IP address.
With this one, you really need to have some spare money. Thing is, WordPress websites can also be held hostage by attackers and they will ask you to pay a ransom so that you will have access to your website again.
It is important that you have backups so that if you won’t be able to meet the attacker’s demands, you would be able to restore your website easily when they decide to take ti down.
What To Do Now?
Now that you know the common WordPress website risks, it is important to remember the following:
- Never assume that you are immune to attacks because of the size of your business or level of visibility. Attackers don’t care who you are and once they know your site exists, there’s a big chance that they will come and attack it.
- Make sure that you know all the risks that you can get from attackers.
- Have the proper monitoring and management tools and process in place so that your site can be recovered if there’s a hacking attempt. Also make sure that you always guard your customer’s information with your life.
- Ask for the expertise of website analysts who are very skilled in attacking hackers and guarding your site from these bad elements. This is very beneficial if you don’t have any idea on how to detect malicious activities or if you don’t have time to do it yourself.