Ahhhhh!! My blog has been hacked!!!!! How to avoid this happening to you

wordpress hackedI’d always believed that, much like email scams and credit card fraud, having your website hacked is the sort of thing that happens to other people, but never to you. After all, I’d never be so foolish as to allow tricksters to get the better of me! Unfortunately, I fell foul of this fallacy last Friday.

Upon visiting my website I discovered nasty looking warning signs plastered all over the home page and in my WordPress’ admin screen. Thinking it was probably a plugin playing up, I logged into my WordPress theme’s support forum to get some answers.

Unfortunately, the issue wasn’t so innocent or simple to solve.

In super quick time, I got a response from my theme’s creator, Andon, with the words every website owner dreads – ‘Matt, I think your website has been hacked’. Not exactly the best news to receive last thing on a Friday.

Thankfully, Andon also gave me some salient advice on something every WordPress owner needs to know, and how to protect against it: In  July and early August there was a security vulnerability discovered with TimThumb script used in some WordPress themes and plugins.

So if you haven’t updated your theme in a while, you could be at risk, and should follow these steps to lockdown your WordPress website:

  • Take a deep breath and try not to panic. Rushing through these steps could create an even bigger mess if you get them wrong
  • Backup all your WordPress files and database (you can download your database with this plugin)
  • Update your WordPress installation and theme to the latest versions. If you have a premium theme they should have put out a security update. If it’s a theme you’ve created yourself, it might be worth getting it checked over by a WordPress expert (feel free to post your details in the comments, if you are one)
  • Check to see whether any new users you don’t recognise have been added (as I discovered to my horror) and delete them post-haste
  • Change your passwords if you haven’t done so in a while
  • Even after changing your passwords hackers can still login if you haven’t cleared their cookies. You can do this by uploading WordPress security keys to your wp-config.php file
  • Install WordPress Firewall 2 and AntiVirus plugins for an extra line of defence

Thankfully, the hackers didn’t do much damage (as far as I can tell), and I was still able to login and rescue it from their clutches.

There’s still some ugly warning messages all over my admin panel and for some reason three portfolio posts were sent to subscribers yesterday(?). But other than that, I think I got away lightly.

Otherwise I might not be writing to you now.

2 Comments. Leave new

Thanks Matt. As an avid blogger, I found these tips to be very useful. I think it’s great that the creator of your wordpress theme also provides support. Very cool.

Louis Slade
Email Marketing Company

This tips are very useful. Thank you for this great post!

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