Four Signs Your WordPress Site Has Been Hacked

There are many reasons a bad actor might want to hack your WordPress site. Most of them require secrecy. The attackers lose their advantage if you find them and will work hard to keep their presence a secret. While your users are exposed to malware and their data is stolen, you will be blissfully unaware.

In fact, criminals design malware so that WordPress administrators don’t see its effects. If you’re logged in, everything will look great and even careful scrutiny won’t reveal a problem.

It is, of course, better if your site isn’t compromised in the first place. But the web is a dangerous place and every site — WordPress or not — is threatened by online crime. If you are smart about updating and taking basic security precautions, there is less chance of your WordPress site being hacked, but it can still happen.

If your site is hacked, you want to know as soon as possible. But, will you be the last to know, or will you take a proactive approach to monitor your site’s security?

Google Lets You Know

Unfortunately, many WordPress site owners find out that their site has been hacked from Google. Google is good at spotting hacked sites and warning its users. If Google finds malware on your site, it will warn users in search engine results pages, display a large warning in the Chrome browser, and may remove the site from search listings altogether.

If Google has taken action against your site on security grounds, they will inform you via Google Search Console’s Security Issues panel.

Your Site Slows To A Snail’s Pace

One reason to hack a WordPress site is to exploit its resources. WordPress sites represent a neat package of bandwidth and computing power that hackers can use for DDoS attacks, brute force attacks, cryptocurrency mining, and other mischiefs.

If a WordPress site’s resources are hijacked, there may not be much left to serve pages to legitimate users.

Weird Search Listings

SEO spam has become a major problem over the last few years. Criminals take over a WordPress site and add code that injects their own content and links, often to unsavory sites that they want to promote. Google can see this additional content, but you, and sometimes your users, cannot. SEO spam can harm your site’s reputation, both with its users and with Google, hurting search rankings and reputation.

Malware Scanning

You might have noticed that the three signs we have looked at so far are not reliable or desirable. No one wants to find out that their WordPress site has been hacked by a user or when they notice cratering search referrals. Malware scanning allows you to take control and find out quickly when an attacker has injected code or added malicious files to your WordPress installation.

There are several solid security WordPress plugins with malware scanning capabilities, including WordFence and Sucuri. The best WordPress hosting providers will take care of periodic malware scanning as part of their service.

If you follow basic WordPress precautions, your site is unlikely to be compromised and infected with malware. However, I would advise all WordPress site owners to carry out regular malware scans: it is better to be safe than sorry.