Last updated: Sep 9, 2022
In this text, “warning signs” will be conveyed when one might notice an attack, as well as ways to manage the attacks.
In saying this, I mean have you noticed that your website is no longer appearing when receiving search results? If you have noticed this, this could be as a result of Google noticing something suspicious. Google, as well as many other search engines often run tests to determine whether or not the websites that are displayed on their engine are safe and legitimate. If any of these search engines notice weird patterns or changes in a particular website, they will then decide to remove this website from their search results. However, this does not mean they will always remove your website from the search engine, since in other situations, they may just flag your website, stating that it may have been hacked, or they may warn users not to click on your link by putting up a notice that this particular site may harm their device. Thus, it is important that website owners continuously look up their websites, making sure to realize any potential impacts before anyone else does, for example, your clients, your customers, or business partners.
The moment you realize that your users are no longer receiving emails from you, or you are not receiving as many responses compared to what you usually do, then there is a possibility that your website has been hacked. When email providers detect irregular patterns or receive some kind of feedback that individuals are receiving spam emails from particular websites, they will subsequently put these websites on blacklists. When this happens, they will automatically forward any email sent concerning your website to spam folders, in order to protect the individuals receiving these emails from being involved in additional associated attacks. For example, let’s say that you are a bank and your bank allows for online banking, meaning people can access their accounts and make/receive payments by simply logging into their accounts. There is a chance that the banking website has been hacked, and hackers might forward additional legitimate-looking emails to the customers of this bank, requesting they log in or conduct some sort of operation. If the email provider detects this email as spam, sent from a hacked website, then this email will not appear in your regular inbox and rather in the spam emails folder. This will protect clients from the bank from following these false instructions, resulting in massive financial losses.
If you notice that something is unusual with your website, for example the time taken for it to load (maybe it’s longer than usual?), this could be as a result of a high amount of activity taking place on the website. This is not to say that many different users are making use of your website, because obviously that is what we all want, but rather that someone is blocking your website by utilizing malware. Malware is a term that stands for “malicious software”. It is a code that is sent to a network with the sole purpose of infecting it in one way or another, this could be to exploit or steal information. For example, a hacker could be overloading your website, with the purpose of blocking it for other users or possibly causing it to crash. When you notice that your website is taking a long time to load, much longer than usual, this could indicate that there is some sort of malicious and strange activity occurring on your website and server. It is necessary to continuously monitor your website performance, taking note of any moments where your website might be running usually slow and, in these instances, seeking professional help and advice as to what to do from there onwards.
When an individual creates and develops a website, they use a hosting website to do so. These hosting websites do a regular check-up on their servers, searching for unusual patterns or malicious code. If these hosting companies notice something that seems strange, they will deactivate the website, in order to protect their servers from experiencing further disruptions. They will disable a website to reduce the spread of this infection to other websites which they might be hosting. A number of reasons could reflect as to why your hosting company would decide to block your website, for example, there has been some sort of malicious code found within your website, your website has been blocked and blacklisted by search engines, (for example Google) or phishing emails have been sent in relation to your website.
A traffic spike occurs on your website when more users than usual are trying to purchase your product or service, or the opposite, there could be a sharp decline in the number of requests on your website. Although this can occur somewhat naturally as it is a movement of things, if it is occurring too often or too drastically, this might be evident of some sort of cyber attack. It is necessary to be aware of moments where your website might be utilized more often and moments when it might not, in order to watch out for these usual patterns that might be occurring as a result of a cyber attack. Hackers will attack your website and utilize it for “spamvertising”. This word comes from the combination of “spam” meaning unsolicited messages and “advertising”. Spam emails are forwarded from your server with attachments or links to new websites or pages that have been generated by the cyber hacker. Spamvertising vandalizes your website.
There is a possibility that a website owner might be trying to access their website and they get blocked. Next thing, you might see that your data has been encrypted and have a demand to pay an amount in order to unlock your data/information. This is a sign of a ransomware attack. Hackers will demand a payout in order to release their control over your website. This could be extremely detrimental to the owner and paying the ransom money might not ensure that they regain control of their data and their website. Once again, it is imperative to reach out for professional advice or even legal advice to guide you through this.
Sometimes popup messages will appear on your device stating that it has been infected. This popup will disguise itself as the “savior” who is here to protect your device and your website by acting as an antivirus product. This could indicate one of two situations, the first being that your website has been compromised and hacked or that it is not yet compromised unless you are to click on the pop-up message. If you find yourself in this situation, be sure to exit your browser tab immediately and reopen it, in some cases, this message might disappear meaning that nothing unusual has occurred. Alternatively, if the message still appears after closing the browser tab, this could be an indication that the antivirus popup has compromised your device, which is usually done through social engineering. Be sure to go on and shut down your computer, reset it and restore your system.
An indicator of a hacked website might be from entering the correct password and the access being denied time and time again. If you notice that your correct password is not working anymore, it can be a sign that a hacker has gained access to your website, using your personal password, and gone about to change the password in order to ensure that you are locked out. When this occurs, it is usually as a result of the user responding to a phishing email that looks legitimate but in fact is not. The hacker is then able to gain access to all login information and passwords and is able to go about and change it. If you notice this has happened to you, notify any acquaintances or clients about this situation that you have been compromised, this can ensure that the attack stops with you and is not spread on to others, decreasing the level of damage that could have occurred.
If you are noticing that your mouse pointer is controlling itself, clicking on random things on the website, this is an indicator that you have been compromised and hacked. Even though it is not uncommon for your mouse to move irregularly due to any sort of hardware issue, if the movement is changing programs or clicking on relevant information, then this can be a sign that an attacker is controlling your mouse pointer and changing your website. This attack allows for hackers to force access into your device, and then go on to try to steal money or steal sensitive data/information. If you notice this occurring, turn off your computer completely, disconnect it from any sort of wifi network and alert a professional that this has occurred. You should not attempt to do this without the help of an expert, as you may run into more and more problems if you don’t.
You might notice that your private data has been exploited and exposed to the public. Either you will notice it yourself or someone relevant to your organization has told you about it. If you are aware that this has occurred, you must take a few steps in order to rectify it. Firstly ensure that the data or information has definitely been exposed. In some instances, hackers will claim to have exposed the private information but in truth, nothing has actually happened. If it is in fact true, senior management in the organization will need to be informed. They will need to report that their data has been compromised to all their users.
When unusual software installs have occurred on your website or device, this is a good indicator that you have been cyber hacked. Malware programs in our modern world, for example Trojans and worms install themselves on your device, posing as reliable and legitimate programs that can be trusted. This can occur by installing certain programs on your device and if you do not read the license agreements, then the unexpected software can be installed. It is imperative to read license agreements before clicking on agree, as more often than not, you can decide to not install other programs on your device.
As a professional, it is almost certain that you and your other employees have invested time into generating top-notch content that has been published on your website. There might even be a particular strategy or flow that runs throughout all the content. If you notice that there is content you did not write or content that does not look like your own, then this is a sign that your website has been compromised and some malicious user has hacked into it. Additionally, you might notice that there are links or popups that appear on your website that then lead to deceitful or dishonest business and again you can be well informed that your site has thus been compromised.
If your website seems to be missing content or content seems to have been changed, this could be an indicator that a hacker has gained unauthorized access into your website and broken your code or even changed it. This will then lead to various issues and errors.
Help!! What can I do if my website has been hacked??
If you wish to protect yourself from running into any issues of attacks in the future, it would be recommended that you install a Website Firewall (WAF) on your website, which can help to protect you. A firewall acts as a “security guard” who monitors all actions on your website, restricting any malicious requests
Join us at Cyber72 where we will assist you from the get-go to protect your website and avoid any attacks. We will help you install the necessary tools as well as advise you with the necessary knowledge in order to protect your devices and websites. Should you run into any issues, our services will assist you in dealing with the attack. We will help you step-by-step in order to regain control over your data and website and safeguard your server from further instances of attacks. We have the knowledge and expertise to guide you in the right direction in order to protect your devices and your websites.