Firstly don't panic, although it is a traumatic experience for any site owner when malicious code is discovered, this guide will help website owners through what steps are needed to take.
- Take your site off-line - Take your site off-line temporarily, at least until you know you have fixed things as it could be infecting your visitors with viruses and this is a security issue.
- Change your passwords - the application admin password, the hosting account and the FTP passwords.
- Damage Assessment- It is a good idea to figure out exactly what the hacker(s) were after.
- Were they looking for sensitive information?
- Did they want to gain control of your site for other purposes?
- Look for any files, which have been recently modified or created that you cannot recognize or you haven''t edited yourself.
- Check for any suspicious activity inside your Web Hosting Control Panel, such as newly created email accounts, FTP accounts, etc.
- Determine the scope of the problem — do you have other sites that may be affected?
- Order an emergency malware cleanup to fix the problem without the infection recurring.
- The easiest and fastest way to recover from a hack is to restore your website through a website backup. If a backup is not available then a complete re-installation of all application(s) using a fresh and updated copy acquired from the software vendor. It is the only way to be completely sure you have removed everything the hacker may have done.
- After the fresh re-installation, use the latest backup that has been made to restore your site. Do not forget to make sure the backup is clean and free of hacked content too.
- Update any software packages to the latest versions. This includes things such as plugins or add-ons, themes or any other type of third-party software installed.
- Restoring your online presence - Get your site back online and keep an eye on things, as the hacker may try again through a backdoor.
If you don't have a backup tool, after resolving the issue, we recommend adding Site Backup to your account.
How was your website hacked? Here are several possible reasons:
- If you have your FTP details stored locally on your computer, someone may have stolen them using various Trojan Horses, Spyware, etc. Several times in the past attackers used stolen FTP credentials to successfully pull off large scale attacks.
A solution in this case would be to run a full scan of your computer and change your FTP credentials via the Files > FTP Accounts section of your Web Hosting Control Panel. Also, be careful when you enter login information on public computers.
- Someone used your hosting Control Panel password and hacked your website(s) - this case is quite similar to the one mentioned above and the solution here is an immediate update of the account password, which could be done via the My Account > Change Login Credentials section.
- If you are using scripts, such as Joomla, WordPress, etc., for the purposes of your website, the site may have been hacked using various methods like database injection, remote file inclusion and many others.The problem is that all these are open source applications and anybody has access to their code, which allows hackers to find security holes, especially if the applications are not updated regularly and/or different add-ons with unknown origin are installed.
This is a topic that can be widely discussed and there are many materials providing more detailed information that can be found on the web.