WordPress is arguably the most popular Content Management System today. A study conducted by Netcraft indicates that WordPress powers more the 35% of the websites. It is its unparalleled versatility that allows WordPress to power both small businesses websites and blogs and also running a huge fortune 500 company websites and the Forbes blog. Despite this prominence, WordPress still faces several challenges. One common challenge that WordPress faces is the defacement problem. This article explains the meaning of WordPress defacement, the reasons that drive hackers to execute defacements, why your WordPress website is vulnerable to defacement, and how to remove defacement from WordPress site altogether.
What is WordPress Defacement?
WordPress defacement is when a hacker tampers with the original appearance of your WordPress site. By defacing your WordPress website, hackers want to make it known that indeed your website has been infected. Hackers will display messages and take credit for them. They can also display disturbing graphics that might leave your website visitors in shock. WordPress defacement attacks can have devastating impacts. You will lose your website visitors, and in worst-case scenarios, Google will immediately blacklist your website once they notice it. Defacement attackers usually aim at being noticed. Why would a cybercriminal want to get noticed? Coming to the reasons as to why a hacker would want to deface your WordPress website.
Reasons Why Hackers Carry Out WordPress Defacements
There are several reasons as to why a hacker will carry out a defacement attack on your WordPress website. Hackers who want to propagate their political and religious views can resolve to use the defacement techniques. They use WordPress defacement for social justice. Hacktivists is the term used to refer to such hackers.
Hackers can also carry out WordPress defacement for fun. To show the users that they have not taken proper security measures to protect their websites. They can also resolve to use the defacement technique to advertise or sell their illegal products. They will achieve this by simply replacing your page content with their contents that promote their illegal products.
Another reason as to why a hacker can carry out WordPress defacement will be to try out his hacking skills and improve on them. Online contests also exist whereby a hacker who succeeds in defacing a high number of websites wins.
What Makes Your WordPress Site Vulnerable to Defacement?
Several vulnerabilities might exist on your WordPress website that will give a hacker a chance to carry out defacement on your WordPress efficiently. Some of them include the following;
Your WordPress Core is Vulnerable
WordPress core is a very vital component of your WordPress website. Just like any other software, the centre of your WordPress site is also vulnerable to several threats. A perfect example is the privilege injection that WordPress faced in 2017. The privilege injection allowed unauthorised parties to make changes to the content of WordPress websites. This threat alone led to the defacement of over 1.5 million WordPress websites. WordPress has not experienced significant core vulnerabilities ever since but it is good to be cautious.
Your WordPress Themes and Plugins are Vulnerability
Just like the core, vulnerable plugins and themes could be the main culprits that can lead to WordPress defacement. Software developers are always trying their best to release new versions of themes and plugins that have all insecurity loopholes sealed. You should never ignore these updates because doing so will be inviting hackers to carry out defacement to your WordPress website.
Weak username and Passwords
Hackers can use the brute force technique in which programmed bots are meant to make thousands of attempts to guess your password. If you are using a weak password or username, then the brute force will access your WordPress website and easily deface your home page.
Absence of an SSL Certificate
Your website will, at one point in time involve the transfer of information between your users and yourself. If the information goes through plain text, hackers can easily intercept it, read it and change the message of the information to fit their needs. They will then transfer the altered information to the intended recipients. Having an SSL certificate encrypts all information so that when a hacker intercepts it, he will not be able to decipher its meaning.
Ways to Remove WordPress Defacements
WordPress defacement can have a lot of devastating impacts. Luckily for you, there is a procedure that you have to follow to remove defacement from your WordPress website completely. However, you will need to act speedily to void dire consequences. You will also need to understand how exactly a hacker accessed your WordPress site so that you take proper corrective measures. You can then follow the following steps to fix the hack and to return your website to normality.
Scan the WordPress Website
To execute a proper defacement attack, hackers will tend to inject malware into your website. The first step that we recommend that you do is to scan your entire system for this malware. A WordPress security plugin can be an essential tool that can help you carry out the scan. You should be keen when choosing on the plugin that you use.
Hackers tend to hide their malicious codes in different locations of your website. They can also create a secret entry point that is referred to as backdoors that will allow them to execute their attacks long after you have cleaned your WordPress website. When choosing a plugin, make sure that you go for one that can sniff out the hidden codes and also detect the backdoors. We recommend that you use the scanning plugin to scan through your WordPress website.
Clean the Hacked WordPress website
After scanning your WordPress website, it is time to clean it. Cleaning your WordPress site involves removing the malware that is present as well as removing the malicious codes and the backdoors. The clean-up process usually tends to be long and could take you a few days before it is complete. Time is generally of great essence when it comes to WordPress defacement. You will need to carry out the clean-up within the shortest time possible using plug-in.
Restore Your Backup
After cleaning up your WordPress website, it is then time to return to routine. This is done by restoring your backup data. You can restore your backup by using a plugin like web host.
Creating regular backups is therefore very helpful and will come to your aid during such situations.
The reason as to why hackers carried out defacement on your WordPress is because they found a loophole that gave them access to your WordPress website. You can always prevent this from happening by taking the necessary precautions. Defacement usually comes with some devastating impacts, and knowing what to do when it happens is very critical. This article has spelt out the three vital steps to take to return your WordPress website to normalcy after it has been defaced.
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