Every year we have website owners coming to us for help as their websites have been compromised in some way. Most hacked websites show little or no visible effect to the visitor. But the effects can be devastating. We met one business owner from Cardiff whose hacked website was sending out thousands of emails on his behalf which was clogging up his email server. The subject of the emails was distasteful and reflected badly on his business. Luckily we were able to clean the site and install security software. We also discovered that his password was easy to guess which is a big no-no these days.
Others have come to use after seeing intermittent buttons or links to other sites appearing on their pages. The problems caused by malware and scams are endless. If you do not clean up the site it can lead to your website being marked with a warning in the search results by Google. As a consequence visitors will steer clear of your website. It can also affect your Google ranking if you do not take action.
Unfortunately the level of threats online is increasing hugely and at the same time plenty of new businesses are trying to build their own websites or are using web design companies who are not familiar with the website security. Unsurprisingly this leads to a huge number of websites being hacked each year. Last year Google identified around 800,000 compromised websites. This figure is likely to increase this year.
But the good news is that Google are working hard to help website owners. If you own a website please be sure to register with either Google Analytics or Search Console. They are both free and Google is now using both services to notify website owners of issues such as malware. It might be a good idea to register with both in case you miss the notification from one service. Google say its hard to get hold of website owners once they have identified a problem.
When we have built the website ourselves the risk becomes a lot lower for our clients as we insist on installing security measures and we strongly recommend that our clients keep secure login details. For WordPress websites we also recommend ensuring that the plugins and themes are kept up to date. We also use hosting companies with excellent security features.
If your website has been hacked then please don’t panic. Please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org. We can advise you on the best course of action. If necessary we can clean the website and lock down the security to ensure the problem does not reappear.
You can learn more about website security by using the hashtag #NoHacked on Twitter.