As an online business owner, the security of your website is essential to your success. If your website is hacked, customers may not be able to purchase your products or services. Alternatively, customers may have a more negative view of your online business, discouraging them from making purchases. Fewer sales mean less revenue for your online business.
Hacking incidents, though, aren't always easy to detect. And the longer a hacking incident goes undetected, the more damage it can cause. What are the signs of a hacking incident exactly?
Hackers often have different motives for targeting websites. Some may want to deploy malware, whereas others may want to sell their products or services by stealing your website's traffic. New content might indicate a hacking incident if you didn't create it.
Hackers who want to sell their own products or services may create new content on your site. They may publish spammy sales pages on your website or create links pointing to external sales pages. Regardless, your website could have been hacked if you came across new content you didn't create.
Traffic represents the number of visitors who access your website during a specified period. You may experience a loss of traffic if your website has been hacked. If it's so, fewer visitors will access your website.
Search engines may deindex your website after discovering that it has been hacked. Deindexing is the complete removal of your website from the search results. If Google deindexes your website, your site won't rank in any position for any keyword. Therefore, your website will fail to generate organic search traffic from Google.
Traffic loss can occur from damage to your online business's brand as well. When visitors discover that a hacker has breached your website, they may leave and not return. Visitors may be wary of having their personal information stolen.
Addresses are URLs. Many hacked websites contain redirects, also known as programming code that automatically moves visitors to a different address. A hacker may set up a redirect on your homepage's URL that points to their homepage's URL. Anyone who attempts to access your homepage will then be redirected to the hacker's website.
Most server-installed content management systems (CMSs) have an admin portal. By entering your username and password, you can log in to the admin portal to perform admin tasks like creating content and customizing your web design. Changes to your website's login credentials could indicate a hacking incident.
Hackers want to retain their unauthorized access after breaching websites. As a result, many will change the login credentials to the websites they've breached. A hacker may change your login credentials so that you can no longer log in to your website.
A login change is a common sign of a hacking incident. A hacker may have targeted your website if your username and password no longer work. You can always regain access to your website by restoring the compromised credentials, but you need to fix the vulnerability that caused the breach.
Long load times could be the result of a hacking incident. A hacker may upload new files to your website that manifest in the form of longer load times. Many hackers target websites to spread malware. While file-less malware is available, most malware consists of one or more files. If your website contains malware or any other files uploaded by a hacker, it may load more slowly.
Animated ads, video ads, and pop-up ads can harm load times. Some hackers may serve ads on your website after breaching it. Too many ads, of course, can slow down your website.
Monitoring your website's load times will help determine whether it's been hacked. If your website's load times suddenly increase and you didn't make any significant changes, it may have been hacked.
Web browsers have security features to protect their users from malware, identity theft, phishing, and other cyber threats. If they identify a cyber threat on your website, they may block users from visiting it. Browser warnings are a telltale sign your website has been hacked.
To see if web browsers display a warning message for your website, try visiting it using all of the major browsers. Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Firefox will all display a warning message for hacked websites, especially if the sites pose a risk to their users.
You can use Google Search Console to monitor your website for hacking incidents. Online business owners typically associate Search Console with search engine optimization (SEO). Search Console offers a variety of SEO-related analytics and tools, but it also provides notifications of hacking incidents.
To check for hacking notifications, click the "Security and Manual Actions" tab in Google Search Console. Google will display hacking notifications in this area. It will reveal the type of cyber threat affecting your website and the URLs where the cyber threat was detected. Hacking notifications in Search Console indicate a severe cyber threat that will affect your website's rankings.
Your website isn't destined to fail just because it's been hacked. A hacking incident will only harm your website and online business if you disregard it. You can take corrective action more quickly by checking your website for these signs.