The 7 Most Common Reasons Why Your Website Has Been Hacked (And How to Protect It)

protect your website from hackers

Virtually any website can become the target of a hack. From little known blogs to robust eCommerce sites, cyber-vandals are always looking for easy prey. To top it all off, private information may not be the only thing that hackers are looking for.

In fact, a large portion of websites compromised are nothing more than vandalizing the pages themselves.

The following are some of the most common reasons why your website could become the next target. You’ll also learn how you can protect your website from hackers by reducing or eliminating exploits.

What Are the 7 Most Common Reasons Resulting in a Hack?

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1. Personal Computer Security

When a personal computer is hacked, the attack could include stealing saved information for websites and logins. This gives the criminal element access to online resources using your own credentials.

These hacks can come from compromised websites, infected software or through bots scanning various IP addresses looking for weaknesses.

2. Third-Party Access

Many websites utilize plugins, widgets and other integrated components. Unfortunately, these can lead to compromises of your website. In many cases, developers of these additions will update their software on a regular basis to prevent hackers from using discovered exploits.

However, this isn’t always the case as some developers simply give up on a project. Content management systems, such as Joomla and Drupal, can easily be targeted in such a fashion as plugins and widgets are a primary source for design and content.

3. Application Vulnerabilities

Some of the most popular platforms can be targets for hackers through vulnerable exploits. However, developers of systems like WordPress and Joomla are often quick to respond to such threats.

For example, WordPress is on more than 31% of all websites in the world. Should a compromise be detected, it could cause havoc across millions of sites.

4. Indirect Server Hacks

A direct assault on your website isn’t the only way the criminal element can gain access to its pages. Many sites are hosted on what’s called a “shared” server. This means that all accounts are utilizing the same drives, CPUs and memory to host everything from blogs to eCommerce.

If any one of those other websites are compromised, it could lead to hackers accessing your data indirectly. Even a hack aimed specifically at the hosting company can put the information at risk.

5. Responding to Phishing Email

Phishing emails are one of the Internet’s constant reminders of why cyber laws need to be enforced. These messages are designed with the purpose of duping you out of your user credentials for various websites.

Sometimes, the hacker will make the effort to create an email that looks legitimate asking for passwords or providing links to “log in” to your account. In many cases, these links lead to hacked websites that are hosting a false page in order to obtain the information.

6. Outdated Scripts

Scripts are often used to develop a website to control everything from graphics to databases. They are also a common element for hackers to gain control of the website itself. When a script is detected as having an exploit, developers will create updates in order to prevent cyber attacks.

Even installation scripts for web-based applications, plugins and add-ons can open the doors to hackers.

7. Lack of Proper Website Security

Cyber attacks on organizations in the United States cost those companies $1.3 million on average. A lot of companies had to close down simply because they couldn’t survive the financial costs of being hacked.

Many of these organizations may still be in operating today if they had proper website security in place to prevent those cyber attacks.

Keeping the Site Protected

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While it may seem overwhelming to protect your website from hackers, there are ways you can greatly reduce the risks. A large portion of attacks are focusing on easy targets and will often skip sites that demonstrate resilience.

Unless the attack is aimed at a specific organization, such as the Sony Hacks of 2014, hackers usually keep looking for easy-to-access exploits.

Reduce the risk of becoming a target by:

  • Always Keep Your Firewalls and Antiviral Applications Updated: By protecting your own computer system, you can eliminate some of the threat to your website. Even the simplest of malware attacks can lead to severe complications.
  • Use Current Versions of Integrated Software: If a version of an app, plugin or widget hasn’t been updated in more than a year, it may be better to look for an alternative. Older versions of these may be riddled with exploits.
  • Use Current Versions of CMS Software: Older versions of CMS apps such as Joomla may contain access points for hackers. Most of these content management systems have options for automatic updates.
  • Use Hosting Companies That Routinely Update Security: Most major web-hosting companies offer exceptional security precautions. Make sure your hosting provider uses the latest in antiviral, database and programming language support.
  • Never Interact Directly With Unsolicited Email: Links within emails may lead you to corrupted sites. Always manually type in addresses into your browser to reduce the risk of exposure. Remember, most legitimate companies will never ask you for your credentials through an email. You can also incorporate email encryption to boost the security of yourself and your recipients.
  • Always Update Your Scripts and Remove Installation Files: If you’re using third-party scripts, make sure you’re using the most current versions. After installing any addition to the site, delete the installation files.
  • Never Underestimate Your Site’s Importance to Hackers: It only takes a moment for a hacker to gain control of an unprotected site for a variety of nefarious purposes. Don’t assume that because your site isn’t as popular as Google that you’re safe from a hacking attempt.
  • Utilize Antiviral Applications Regularly On Your Site: From online website scanning to WordPress security plugins, there is a long list of ways you can stop hackers from using your digital real estate. The expense of this security is far more preferable to the damage that can be done by a hacker. Some systems offer free plugins for scanning, such as using WordFence with WordPress.

Keep Your Site Safe

Although hackers are constantly looking for their next victims, there are many other developers out there working to thwart their efforts. Do what you can to protect your website from hackers, and keep your confidential data from prying eyes. A single hack can do a great deal of financial damage to yourself or your business.

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