WordPress’ popularity makes them a primary target for hackers looking to commit mass attacks by embedding malicious coding and hidden links in their even more popular themes and plug ins. WordPress Themes from untrustworthy sources can be used as Trojan Horses for hackers looking to gain access to your data.
Built with in the theme itself, these viral bugs can be “injected” into your site by using bogus media files, unnoticeable changes to your PHP. Text, and other back handed ruses.
Links can be hidden behind CSS, disguised within the coding, and camouflaged behind imagery and within the background itself. Hackers find new ways to inject the malicious coding so that it is virtually invisible to you and your sites visitors.
These hidden links can be used to run destructive coding, redirect your sites traffic to another crude site, and even be used to gather your visitors’ information [like online activity and financial information] to another location.
No matter where they came from, these hidden Links are meant to do harm; here are some more ways Hidden Links and bad coding can affect your site:
- Take your visitors places they didn’t intend to go. Most malicious sites receive large numbers of visitors from those hidden links from unverified WordPress Themes and Plug ins. They can lead visitors to Scareware sites or sites that claim their software is infected with some virus which they can handle. All the visitor has to do is download their program which is really a Trojan horse to access all their information.
- Result in bad marketing and destroy your credibility with visitors and search engines. Google AdSense has a zero tolerance policy for hidden content. They prohibit the use of hidden content, your AdSense account can be shut done completely. This bad marketing will extend to search engines as they crawl your site and find that spammy links lead visitors to malicious sites. You could eventually find yourself back listed with most popular search engines.
- Cause your Site to experience a meltdown. It doesn’t matter what the intended purpose, hidden links cause unwanted and uncontrollable activity on your site. This extra activity can result in a malfunction within your WordPress site causing it to slow down or crash all together. While hackers are redirecting your traffic elsewhere, your site is losing market value and revenue.
- Hands Hackers keys to your virtual kingdom. Hidden Links are like an invisible set of keys planted by the hacker to return for later. They allow hackers the ability to plant malicious coding, install malware, and access your information as well as customer data. Every customer account would be theirs for the taking!
I Spy Suspicious Content: Identifying Hidden Back Links
It is recommended that you go through your Themes’ Coding with a fine tooth comb, especially if you don’t trust the source. Chances are you might notice some suspicious content in your WordPress Theme that can’t be accounted for.
- Make a Back Up of your WordPress Site. If you haven’t already stored a copy of your site somewhere, make sure to do so before accessing your coding or doing any repairs.
This is always the most important step because anything can go wrong and all your data could be wiped clean! If anything should happen, your back up will allow you to restore any content and/or theme files that you lost.
- Check the coding with a critical eye. While most people aren’t comfortable fidgeting around behind the scenes, you have to manually comb through your coding to catch any links leading to website you didn’t insert yourself.
Pay attention to any content linking to uncertain media files, implanted files (database, PHP, .htaccess) that you did not include yourself and aren’t originally associated with your themes original files.
Bad coding can quickly be sought out when comparing the original theme with your version. You can access a fresh copy from your hosting provider. A good place to look first would be the preset header and footer of WordPress Themes; it easy to embed a hidden link within its plain text.
- Take advantage of WordPress Developed Tools. There are several WordPress Tools that can help you dig through your coding if you don’t feel comfortable doing so yourself or think you might have missed something. Using plug in and other amenities you can hunt down unwanted links and hidden content.
Try using popular WordPress Tools like Exploit Scanner, a free Plug In that scans your files, including posts and comments, to root out any malicious coding or hidden links. It is important to remember when using these tools to always make a backup of your Site beforehand.
This plug in simply notifies you of bad coding or hidden links, you must remove them yourself. It is a good learning tool for beginners to get the hang out digging around the coding themselves; teaching them to identify bad coding within their WordPress Core, Theme, and Plug ins.
Cleaning House: Removing Hidden Links and Malicious Coding
Once you have identified the hidden links and malicious coding within your WordPress Site or Theme you can remove bad content by sorting through your tampered files, download, and edit them using a text editor such as WordPad.
Following steps to Restore your Hacked WordPress Site, re-upload your clean files into your fresh WordPress Installation. Test out your site before going live to look for any bugs that might have been left behind. If your site holds up, and there are no signs of the hackers work, you can begin getting your site back online.
Securing your WordPress Site
Once you have removed the hackers control over your site continue to secure your WordPress Site to ensure they can’t sneak their way back in.
- Stay Up to Date! Don’t ignore those alerts from WordPress about new versions and enhancements to your current WordPress Core, Theme, or Plug Ins. Sticking with an outdated version of anything is like leaving a window open for a hacker to climb through.
- Permission Please! Adjust to your files access to the highest level allowed so that your site still functional normally and then delete any unused administrative accounts.
- Try to Stick to WordPress Approved Tools and Themes. Using Themes and Plug Ins from unverified sources, whether WordPress or not, can be how a hacker infiltrates your site. Make sure to verify that your theme and plug in provider is actually approved by WordPress before installing it!
- Delete unwanted files and Plug Ins. If there are Plug Ins or files that you’re suspicious about or have no need for then delete them immediately. This includes database files, Media content, and inserted .PHP files which could allow a hacker access to your site.
- Strong Log in Account and Passwords for everything. Password-protect files that you don’t want anyone tampering with and try not to use the same one as your log in password. Folders containing customer information and your WordPress Database should be secured as well. Use strong passwords or a password generator and change all administrative accounts to one you have created yourself.
Protecting your site by removing malicious coding and shutting down hidden links is vital to securing your database and sensitive information. Remember that changing or altering necessary coding can damage or erase your site completely.
WordPress Themes: Incredibly Powerful but leave you vulnerable to hacks
While they are incredibly powerful and provide functionality for site owners, WordPress themes can leave you vulnerable to a malicious hacker. Try only using reputable sources for features like themes and plug ins, keep your WordPress up to date, and be sure to make your content password-protected!
These simple steps could keep your Site secure and intact, meanwhile hackers will be locked out and your website will be allowed to function normally.
If you have doubts or questions before rummaging through your files contact your hosting provider, seek help from the WordPress Community, or consult a well-known WordPress Developer or CMS Support service before deleting your hard work. CMS Managers provides Support services and Maintenance for your WordPress site starting at just $29.99!