How to Fix a Hacked WordPress Website

3rd April 2023

Discovering that your WordPress website has been hacked can be distressing, but it’s essential to remain calm and take immediate action to rectify the situation. In this guide, we will walk you through the steps to fix a hacked WordPress website and provide valuable tips for preventing such incidents in the future. Hacking attempts on WordPress websites are not uncommon, as hackers often exploit vulnerabilities in outdated software, weak passwords, or insecure themes and plugins. By implementing security best practices, you can significantly reduce the risk of your website falling prey to malicious attacks.

Keep Calm and Change Passwords

The first step in addressing a hacked WordPress website is to stay composed and focus on securing your site. Changing all passwords associated with your website is crucial to prevent further unauthorised access. This includes passwords for user accounts in the WordPress admin area and if possible, your database password. A strong and unique password for each account is essential to thwart brute-force attacks.

To change your passwords effectively, access the WordPress dashboard and navigate to “Users” > “All Users.” Update the passwords for all users, especially the administrator account. Avoid using common passwords or easily guessable combinations, and consider employing a password manager to generate and store strong passwords securely.

Identify and Clean Hacked Content

After securing your passwords, it’s time to identify and remove the hacked content from your website. This step requires careful examination of your WordPress installation files. You can either access your website’s files through FTP or use specialized security plugins designed to scan for malware and suspicious code.

FTP Method: Using an FTP client (e.g., FileZilla), connect to your website’s server and navigate to the root directory where WordPress is installed. Look for any unfamiliar or suspicious files, especially those with names that don’t correspond to legitimate plugins or themes. Additionally, review the content of critical files such as index.php, header.php, and footer.php for injected malicious code. If you find any suspicious files or code, remove or quarantine them immediately.

Security Plugins Method: Several security plugins offer comprehensive scanning and cleaning capabilities, making the process more accessible for users without advanced technical knowledge. Wordfence WordPress Security Plugin and WPMU Defender Pro are reputable options known for their malware scanning and removal features.

Wordfence, for example, scans your entire WordPress directory and compares it against its extensive malware database. It provides a detailed report on identified threats, enabling you to take appropriate action. Wordfence also offers an option to quarantine suspicious files, helping you isolate and resolve potential issues.

Seek Professional Help

Dealing with a hacked website can be challenging, especially if the attack is sophisticated or extensive. If you find yourself overwhelmed or unsure about the proper course of action, seeking professional assistance is a wise choice.

There are numerous companies and individuals specialising in WordPress security and malware removal. When choosing a service provider, it’s essential to opt for reputable and experienced professionals. Be cautious of exceptionally low-cost offerings, as they may lack the expertise required to handle the situation effectively.

Professional services typically include:

  1. Thorough Malware Cleanup: Experts will meticulously scan your website, remove malware, and restore affected files to their clean state.
  2. Security Assessment: Professionals will analyze your website’s vulnerabilities and offer recommendations to strengthen its security.
  3. Website Hardening: This involves implementing advanced security measures, such as web application firewalls (WAFs) and intrusion detection systems (IDS), to protect against future attacks.
  4. Continuous Monitoring: Some services provide ongoing security monitoring to detect and address potential threats before they cause significant damage.

Remember, investing in professional assistance can save time, minimize risks, and ensure your website’s complete recovery.

Focus on Prevention

While dealing with a hacked website is a critical task, the importance of prevention cannot be overstated. Taking proactive measures to secure your WordPress website significantly reduces the likelihood of falling victim to future hacking attempts.

  1. Regular Updates: Keeping your WordPress core, themes, and plugins up to date is paramount. Developers frequently release updates that address security vulnerabilities and improve overall performance. Regularly check for updates in the WordPress dashboard and apply them promptly.
  2. Strong Passwords: Enforce a strict password policy for all user accounts on your website. Insist on complex passwords that include uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Encourage users to avoid using common phrases or easily guessable information.
  3. Limit User Access: Carefully manage user roles and permissions. Grant access only to the features and sections essential for each user’s role. Avoid assigning administrator privileges to users who don’t require them.
  4. Web Hosting Security: Selecting a reliable and secure web hosting provider is fundamental to safeguarding your website. Research hosting companies that prioritize website security and offer features like regular backups, firewalls, and DDoS protection.
  5. Security Plugins: Install reputable security plugins that add an additional layer of defense to your website. These plugins often include features like firewall protection, malware scanning, and brute-force attack prevention.
  6. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL): Implementing SSL certificates encrypts data transmitted between your website and users, ensuring secure communication and protecting sensitive information like login credentials and payment details.
  7. Regular Backups: Maintaining up-to-date backups of your website is essential. Backups allow you to quickly restore your website to a previous clean state if a hacking incident occurs or if an update goes awry.

Learn from Statistics

Understanding the vulnerability of WordPress websites to potential hacking attempts can motivate you to take security seriously. Research conducted by Alexa, a web analytics company, indicates that more than 70% of WordPress installations among the top 1 million websites are vulnerable to hackers. This finding emphasises the importance of implementing robust security measures.

By ensuring your website belongs to the more secure 30%, you significantly reduce the chances of hackers targeting your site. Taking proactive steps to protect your website creates a safer online environment for your users and helps maintain your website’s integrity and reputation.

We’re Here to Help

At Devon Web Designers, we understand the importance of website security and the potential risks that come with running a WordPress website. Our team of skilled professionals specialises in WordPress security and offers comprehensive assistance to clients facing hacked website issues. With years of experience in the field, we have the expertise to identify and clean hacked content, ensuring your website is restored to its normal state quickly and efficiently.

Our services extend beyond malware removal; we provide a thorough security assessment to identify potential vulnerabilities in your website’s architecture. By understanding the weaknesses in your website’s security, we can recommend tailored solutions to strengthen its defenses against future attacks.

Reach out to Devon Web Designers today, and let us provide you with the expertise and support you need to overcome hacked website challenges and maintain a robust and secure online presence. Together, we can fortify your WordPress website against potential threats and ensure a safe and seamless user experience for your visitors.

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