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“This site appears to have been hacked”.
These are the words that appear in the Google search results when someone has broken into your WordPress site and added content. It means that Google will take you out of the index unless action is taken to clean the site.
No one would bother to hack my site
That was the illusion I was under. Why on earth would anyone want to hack into a little blog about North Norfolk? However, it happened a few weeks ago when someone/something got into my site and inserted some extra pages linked to commercial sites selling sports shoes. Here is the amazing fact about this. When it was investigated it was found that in excess of 600,000 pages had been inserted and were ‘cloaked’. If you would like to know more about cloaking Wikipedia has an explanatory page. Basically what it means is that the administrator running the site is unaware that the pages exist and there is nothing to indicate that anything is wrong when using WordPress. When you do find out, you cannot access the content via WordPress, it has to be dealt with at the server end.
The course of action I had to take was to employ a professional to clean the site by going into the files on the server and deleting all the rogue content. Naturally, that was not free of charge and if your site is hacked it will cost money to put things right.
How to avoid being hacked
- To avoid your site being hacked ensure that you have adequate anti virus/malware protection on your computer and keep it up to date. That applies to Mac machines as well as those running Windows. If you don’t want to pay, Avast offers free protection.
- Keep your version of WordPress up to date. The updates address security issues.
- Keep your machine’s operating system fully up to date. Download those irritating updates from Microsoft.
- Install a security app on your site. I am using Wordfence, which seems very good. There is a free version but I paid the small fee that provides some extras. It alows you to block users in other countries from accessing your site. My hacker(s) was in China so it was a simple job to block out any future visitors from there.
I hope this information is useful and that you will avoid the inconvenience of your site being hacked. Prevention is definitely better and a lot cheaper than cure in this case.