How do you know if your website was hacked?

Hacker in a hoodie working in multiple devices in a dark room

It usually takes something very big – think missing money from your account – or something very weird before many businesses notice they’ve been hacked.

Your best strategy for ensuring you don’t get hacked in the first place is to have a proper cyber security setup.

But if that sounds like locking the gate after the horse has bolted territory considering your current situation, here are a few ways to know if your website was hacked:

Ways to know if your website was hacked

1) You receive a ransomware message

A ransomware message is one of the most obvious ways to tell if your website was hacked. You will know when you receive one. Because these pop-ups come with big bells and whistles telling you what they are and what your ransomers want.

Every year, businesses of all sizes – including small businesses, which tend to have less effective cyber security setups – lose billions of pounds to ransomware attacks.

Unfortunately, around 4 out of 10 times, paying the ransom simply results in more demands. Resolving ransomware issues usually requires calling in professional cyber security expertise.

2) Your website host takes your site offline

The common scenario here is that customers have been warned by their antivirus or other security tools while on your website. They then get in touch with your provider to ask if there’s a problem.

The common result of this is – at the minimum – your host taking your site offline while they investigate. Some hosts will instantly format everything to stop the virus spreading.

Your host will then get in touch with you to deliver the bad news. Again, in this instance, you will be under no illusions that you’ve been hacked.

3) Google Search flags your website

No business owner wants to start their day with a customer getting in touch to tell them Google has flagged their website as one which “may harm your computer.”

Just think of how many potential customers searched, found you, and then skipped past your site because of those warnings without telling you.

These automated warnings are put up (and Google can even remove your site from search results) when it detects unexpected changes to your website, such as new pages full of spam copy and redirects.

A simple search for your own website will let you know if this is a problem. As far as resolving it, as always, there’s no substitute for proper prevention in the first place. But if you’re already there, you will almost certainly need an IT expert to get things back in working order.

4) Your computer does things “on its own”

This covers a variety of likely and less likely scenarios where the first thing you notice is that your computer seems to do things of its own volition. This might in include:

  • Unwanted toolbars appearing in your internet browser
  • Software being installed that you didn’t download or agree to
  • Your mouse moving between items and selecting things on its own

These are all common signs that your website or computer have been hacked.

5) Your login credentials are up for grabs

If you were of a malicious turn of mind, you could easily find login credentials from millions of businesses on the dark web. You could just as easily do so on the plain old internet.

Some of the credentials in these dumps of details may no longer be valid. But all have been found through one kind of cyber security breach or another – many of them via website database breaches.

It’s not easy to find out if your credentials have already been compromised. You aren’t likely to be notified by anyone either.

Once more, having sensible cyber security measures like multi-factor authentication in place – or putting them into place as soon as possible – is the best way to protect your business.

6) Your money is missing

Poor cyber security can have terrible and immediate consequences for many business owners. For users who rely on a single weak password for multiple accounts or who have their security penetrated, finding hefty sums of money missing from their account can be the first and last warning they receive that something is wrong.

The best defence… is a good defence

Simply having “an antivirus” and “an anti-malware” program is not going to do much in the way of protecting your website against serious hackers.

Setting up proper cyber security doesn’t need to be a chore. Even if you haven’t noticed any of these signs which show your website has been hacked, the fact that you have it on your mind could mean it’s something you’ve put off for too long already.

Need to know if your website was hacked?

Join the more than 900 other businesses in and around Bristol who use Dial A Geek to handle their cyber security.

Schedule a security audit with our director Gildas Jones via his bookings calendar today.