How to Identify a Hacked Website

A hacked website is one of the worst nightmares for a website owner. It is a simple way to ruin the image of a business and lower its reputation as quickly as possible. This also leads to lowering the count of loyal visitors that rely on your website for a trusted service.  Therefore, it is vital to identify a hack quickly and resolve it as early as possible. There are times when hackers have smart techniques to hack your website in such a way that the website owners aren’t able to identify the hack but the search engines can see it.

Let us have a look at some of the ways that can help one to identify a hack easily and take recovery steps for it:

View ‘Security Issues’ in Google Search Console

Google Search Console is the best and reliable way to identify a hacked website. Every guide advises having a Google search console check to get the affirmation of the hack. Hence, it is advised to add the option to your website security toolkit. To check your website’s report with Google search console follow the steps mentioned below: 

  • Log in to Google Search console with the help of this link https://search.google.com/search-console/welcome
  • Select the tab ‘Security and Manual Actions’ tab and select ‘Security Issues’.
  • View the final report.

The report will identify security issues like phishing and deceptive sites, cross-site malware warnings, URL injections, SQL injection, code injection, and many such issues.

Use Google’s Safe Browsing Tool

Google’s Safe Browsing Tool helps one to quickly identify if the website has been hacked or not. Google uses advanced statistical models to identify websites with malware. 

Follow the steps mentioned below to identify the hack:

  • Select Google’s Transparency Report
  • Enter the URL of your website
  • Check the results

Check the Notifications given by Hosting Providers, Browsers, and more

Notifications at a time are the first source of information to let you know about your website being hacked. One should check their emails to know if the hosting provider has sent an email for the same as if they find any malicious content in your website, they take it down immediately and inform you about it through the mail.

Web browsers also help under such situations. They immediately turn the screen red if the website visited is malicious. If you have created an account in Google Search Console then they alert you about the hack. There are times when your loyal visitors inform you about the hack too when they notice unusual behavior on your website. Malware scanners also help one to identify the hacks immediately and take precautionary steps for it.

Check Search Results on Google

Google search results provide accurate information too about your website being hacked. Follow the steps mentioned below to know if your website is hacked or not:

  • Visit https://www.google.com/
  • Enter the “site: domainname.com” and search for it
  • Check the results

Enter the correct domain name as it is the base to identify your website’s status. The Google search will immediately inform you about your website’s status and display the hack message if the website is being hacked.

Check the Core files

Files like .htaccess and .php files can also alert you about the hacked website. Google Search Console and Google Safe Browsing Tool can help you to identify the hack immediately. These tools help you to identify any malicious code or link in these files.

Use Hacked Sites Troubleshooter

Hacked Sites Troubleshooter from Google is another way to identify hacked websites. The tool helps to identify if there is any malicious content on your website and hacked content as well. The tool will also guide you through the steps to be followed to remove the hack.

What is cloaking? 

Cloaking is a method in which the content presented to users is different from the content presented to search engines. This happens when a website is hacked. The method is used by hackers to seep cleverly into a website and stay hidden from the eyes of website owners.

Steps to Fix a Hacked Website

  1. Inform the Host

One of the foremost and most important steps to follow while a site is hacked is to inform the hosting provider. There might be other websites using the same hosting provider. Hence, this helps the provider to check other connected websites and keep them safe.

  1. Turn down the Website

The moment you identify your website has malicious content immediately turn it down. Though the hosting provider serves the purpose in case you haven’t informed the host you should turn down the website. This helps to stop the spreading of wrong information to the visitors and keep them protected too.

  1. Verify the ownership of your Website

This helps you identify the nature of the attack and check at the files that have been changed and carrying the malicious content. There are times when a hacker transfers the ownership on the search console and misuses the information and internal settings of the website. 

  1. Identify the Vulnerabilities

Vulnerabilities are the possible ways created by hackers to seep back into a website. To avoid this one must immediately identify them and get rid of them as well. Some of the common vulnerabilities found in a website are:

  • Weak or reused passwords
  • Virus-infected computer
  • Coding practices
  • Outdated software
  1. Clean the Website and Maintain it

The best way to keep the website protected from a hack is to clean it and maintain it as well. This helps to keep your confidential information safe and avoid being hacked. This also helps to eliminate the fake and unknown URLs created by the hacker misleading the users. 

  1. Request for Review

After cleaning the website and assuring that the site is perfect and back to be in business you need to get it reviewed. For this one needs to fill up the Google Review Request Form. If everything goes well and Google finds it safe then your website will be back online soon. 

Conclusion

The write-up is a summary of identifying a hacked website. There are times when a website owner is not able to identify the hack. The article presents the conditions that indicate the hack. We have also mentioned the steps to be taken to clean a hacked website.

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