Symptoms of a hacked WordPress website

Posted on April 12, 2023 at 12:00 am

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Is your WordPress website behaving strangely? Are you concerned that it might have been hacked? In this article, we will explore some common symptoms of a hacked WordPress website. Knowing what to look out for can help you take immediate action to protect your website and your visitors.

Hackers can exploit vulnerabilities in WordPress websites to gain access to sensitive data, inject malicious code, or deface the website. The consequences of a hacked website can be severe, ranging from legal and financial repercussions to loss of reputation and trust. By detecting a website hack early and taking prompt remedial action, you can minimize the damage and prevent further attacks.

In the following sections, we will discuss some of the warning signs that your WordPress website may have been hacked. We will provide examples and instructions on how to detect and address each symptom. Some of these symptoms may be obvious, while others may require more technical knowledge. Regardless, we hope to empower you to take a proactive and vigilant approach to website security.

Let’s get started.

Suspicious Admin Accounts

One of the signs that your website might have been hacked is suspicious admin accounts. This happens when someone gains access to your website's backend and creates admin accounts for themselves. These admin accounts can be used to modify your website's content, steal data, or even take down your website.

According to a recent report by Google, over 4,000 websites are hacked every day. This means that it's crucial to stay vigilant and keep an eye out for any suspicious activity on your website. Here are some signs that your website might have suspicious admin accounts:

  • New admin accounts have been created without your knowledge.
  • Your account details have been changed without your permission.
  • You receive notification emails of login attempts from unknown IP addresses or countries.
  • You notice increased activity or changes in your website's content or code that you didn't make.

If you suspect that your website has been hacked, it's important to take action immediately. The longer you wait, the more time the attacker has to cause damage or steal sensitive information. The first step is to identify the suspicious admin accounts and remove them. This can be done by logging into your website's backend and accessing the user management section.

Once you have removed the suspicious accounts, it's important to secure your website to prevent future attacks. This includes changing your passwords, updating your website's plugins and themes, and ensuring that your website is always running the latest version of its content management system.

In conclusion, suspicious admin accounts are a clear indication that your website has been hacked, and it's crucial to take action immediately to prevent further damage. By staying vigilant and keeping your website secure, you can reduce the risk of falling victim to a cyber attack. If you need any assistance securing your website, it's always best to seek help from a professional.

Useful resources:

Unrecognized or changed content

One of the telltale signs that your website may have been compromised is when you notice unrecognized or changed content on your web pages. This can be something as small as a new tag or link added to a single page, or as significant as the entire website being defaced or containing spammy content.

According to a study by Sucuri, the top three types of malware infections on websites are Backdoors, Trojan Horses, and Drive-by Downloads, all of which can lead to changes in the website's content. Cybercriminals may use automated tools to inject links or advertisements into your site, redirect your traffic to other websites, or add new pages.

If you notice any changes in your website's content, it's important to investigate immediately. The longer the malware remains undetected, the greater the damage it can cause. You should start by identifying if any new users have been added to your content management system (CMS), such as WordPress, and reviewing the recently modified pages and code.

Prevention is the best cure, and it's always better to take proactive measures rather than responding to the aftermath of a security breach. Make sure you keep your website software up-to-date, use strong passwords, and limit user permissions to only those who require them. You can also use a web application firewall (WAF), such as Sucuri, to protect against malware infections and to monitor your site for changes.

If you're unsure about how to detect or respond to a security breach, it's best to seek the help of a professional. The longer you wait, the higher the risk to your website's reputation and to the data of your website users.

To learn more about how to prevent and detect malware infections on your website, check out Sucuri's Website Malware Removal Guide.

Redirects to Suspicious Websites

One of the most common ways for hackers to compromise a website is through redirecting visitors to suspicious websites. In fact, a study found that 61% of hacked websites were victims of unwanted and malicious redirects.

These redirects often occur when a website's code has been infiltrated with malicious scripts or when webmasters unknowingly install pirated software or plugins on their website. Hackers use these malicious redirects to deceive users and steal their sensitive information.

If you think your website has been compromised with redirects to suspicious websites, there are a few steps you can take to remedy the situation:

  1. Scan your website with a reputable antivirus program to identify any malicious code or scripts.

  2. Check your website's code and plugins for any unauthorized changes or installations. Remove any suspicious code or plugins and update all plugins and software to their latest versions.

  3. Review your website's analytic reports to identify any unusual spikes in traffic or bounce rates, as these may be signs of malicious redirects.

  4. Contact your hosting provider for assistance and to report any suspicious activity.

Prevention is key when it comes to avoiding redirects to suspicious websites. Here are a few tips to keep your website safe:

  • Only download plugins and software from reputable sources and keep them updated to their latest versions.

  • Avoid using pirated or unlicensed software on your website.

  • Use website security tools such as firewalls and antivirus programs.

  • Regularly backup your website data in case of a security breach.

By staying vigilant and taking the necessary precautions, you can protect your website and visitors from redirect attacks.

Slow Website Performance

One of the most frustrating experiences for website visitors is a slow-loading page. A website that takes too long to load often results in visitors clicking away, leading to lost revenue and decreased engagement.

According to research by Google, a delay of just one second in page load time can result in a 7% reduction in conversions. Furthermore, a study by Akamai found that 53% of mobile users will abandon a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load.

Slow website performance can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Large images or videos that take too long to load
  • Overloaded servers
  • Poorly optimized website code
  • Use of outdated plugins or software

To improve website performance, consider implementing the following strategies:

  1. Compress images and videos: Large files can cause slow website performance. Consider using tools like or Adobe Photoshop to reduce file sizes.

  2. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN): A CDN can help distribute website content across multiple servers, improving website performance and reducing downtime.

  3. Optimize website code: Make sure that your website is built with clean, concise code that is easy to read, navigate, and understand.

  4. Use caching: Caching can help reduce load times by storing frequently accessed data in temporary storage.

  5. Upgrade web hosting: Poor website performance can be caused by shared hosting or outdated hosting solutions. Consider upgrading to a dedicated server or a Virtual Private Server (VPS).

By implementing these strategies, website owners can improve website performance, increase engagement, and boost revenue. For more information on how to optimize website performance, check out the guide by GTmetrix.

Increase in Spam Emails

One of the most common signs that your website has been compromised is an increase in spam emails. If you use your website’s email to communicate with your clients or customers, you may notice that you are receiving an unusually high number of spam emails. These emails may contain suspicious links or attachments and may even come from your own email address.

According to a report by Symantec, the global spam rate in 2020 was 54.6%, meaning that more than half of all email traffic was spam. This highlights the importance of implementing spam filters and other security measures to protect your website.

One reason for an increase in spam emails is when hackers use your website’s server to send out large volumes of spam emails. This can lead to your email address being blacklisted, which can negatively impact your website’s reputation and result in legitimate emails being sent to spam folders.

To prevent this, it's important to regularly scan your website for malware and regularly update security plugins. Additionally, it's important to educate your staff on how to recognize spam emails. Provide them with tips such as not clicking on suspicious links, avoiding attachments from unknown sources, and never providing personal information through an email.

If you notice an increase in spam emails, take action immediately to stop the problem before it escalates. Consider using anti-spam software or switch to a different email provider that offers better spam protection.

For more information on protecting your website from spam, refer to this guide from WordFence.

Unauthorized Changes to Website Code or Plugins

Unauthorized changes to website code or plugins can cause a variety of problems for website owners. These changes can result in broken functionality, security vulnerabilities, and other issues that can negatively impact the user experience and website performance.

According to a survey conducted by Sucuri, 51% of hacked websites they analyzed had out-of-date software. This highlights the importance of keeping your website's code and plugins up-to-date. However, simply updating your website may not be enough.

Hackers often try to exploit vulnerabilities in popular plugins and third-party code libraries in order to gain unauthorized access to websites. This can lead to unauthorized changes to the website's code or plugins.

To help prevent unauthorized changes, website owners should:

  • Regularly backup their website's files and databases.
  • Monitor website logs for any suspicious activity.
  • Utilize security plugins to scan for malware and other harmful code.

In addition, website owners should always use strong, unique passwords for their website's admin accounts and limit access to these accounts to only those who need it. This can help prevent hackers from gaining unauthorized access to the website's code or plugins.

If you suspect that unauthorized changes have been made to your website's code or plugins, it's important to take action immediately. This may include restoring a backup of the website's files and databases, removing any suspicious code or plugins, and updating all software to the latest versions.

Overall, unauthorized changes to website code or plugins can cause serious issues for website owners. By following best practices for website security and monitoring your website for suspicious activity, you can help prevent these types of issues from occurring.

Useful resources for learning more about website security and preventative measures include:

Depletion of website resources

One of the most frustrating and potentially damaging issues a website can face is the depletion of its resources. This can happen due to a variety of reasons, including a sudden increase in traffic or a malicious attack on the site. When website resources are depleted, it can cause slow load times, site crashes, and a loss of credibility with users.

The most common reason for resource depletion is an increase in traffic. While an influx of visitors can be exciting, it can also be overwhelming for a website that is unprepared. This is why it is essential to have a scalable infrastructure that can adjust to increased traffic effectively. Monitoring tools like Google Analytics can help identify when traffic is increasing, providing an opportunity to prepare for the surge by increasing resources or investing in a content delivery network.

Another common cause of resource depletion is a malicious attack. Cybercriminals can target a website in a number of ways, including through distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks that overload a site's servers with traffic. This can cause a depletion of resources and lead to website crashes or complete downtime. It is essential to have a security plan in place to prevent and mitigate attacks like these. Installing software like an intrusion detection system (IDS) can help detect and block unwanted traffic.

In conclusion, website resources are finite, and it is up to website owners and administrators to ensure that they are allocated effectively. Having a scalable infrastructure, monitoring tools, and a solid security plan will help prevent resource depletion and ensure that your website is running at its best.

Useful resources:

In conclusion, a hacked WordPress website can be a real nightmare for website owners. However, if you know what signs to look for, you can catch the attacks early and take action to protect your website.

The symptoms we covered in this article, including suspicious admin accounts, unrecognized or changed content, redirects to suspicious websites, slow website performance, an increase in spam emails, unauthorized changes to website code or plugins, and depletion of website resources are all tell-tale signs that your website may have been hacked.

If you notice any of these symptoms, it's important to take action immediately. Start by running a malware scan on your website and always keep your plugins and WordPress core up to date. Regularly backup your website and restrict access to admin accounts as much as possible.

It is also important to work with a professional web developer or security expert, especially if your website has been compromised in the past. They can offer guidance on the best practices for WordPress security and help you secure your website.

By taking steps to protect your website, you can prevent a hacker from accessing sensitive information or damaging your website's reputation. The health and safety of your website ultimately lie in your hands, so be vigilant and proactive in identifying and addressing any potential security vulnerabilities.

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