The last few days have been a nightmare.
It started so well. If you are a regular visitor to my site you will have noticed that I have redesigned my site (new theme, colours and pictures) I changed all these and it was looking good so i decided to promote it on social media, so far so good. Then I tried the link and I was redirected to a different site…Nooooooooo! Someone had managed to hack my site. What could I do? I will tell you my story in the hope that if this happens to you you will know what to try.
First I tried to log in to my site. I got the message “failed to connect” so tried again…same message. Not good.
I tried the main site without logging in. It worked. My popup blocker kicked in and asked if I wanted to go to the redirect site. No. Then took me to my home page. Big adverts started to appear over my screen like popups that my computer didn’t recognise. I tried to refresh the page…”failed to connect”. Now I looked like the guy in the picture.
I love writing my blog and now I may have lost it all. (What would I tell my readers to do? – stay calm, step back and look for a way around the problem) So I did. I tried a different browser – I normally use Chrome so tried Internet Explorer – it loaded the main page but not the log in. It must be a browser problem. No I tried the website later and it “failed to connect”
It must be something that had changed recently. So I looked on line for solutions ( I tried wordpress.org and other forums for ideas) They suggested; a change to the site, a theme or plugin that might have been hacked. I had changed my theme and added new plugins. I went to my webhost opened the file manager and deleted the new plugins first. Didn’t work.
Then I deleted the theme. Like cookie monster (Real name Sidney I think) above I felt like I was deleting all the good stuff from my site and losing my online identity. But guess what? I didn’t work.
Now I checked for blacklisting, I went to Bing and Google Webmaster tools to check and luckily they hadn’t black listed them yet. I registered with them to help with SEO. See previous post. ( these webmasters blacklist sites if they are trying to spam customers or force them to buy products)
I then tried something I thought was odd. I tried to access my site using my mobile phone again this time only using 3G data – no high speed connection – and it worked but had all the horrible adverts. It also allowed me to reinstall a theme. Great! Now What?
Yep, back on line searching. Now on the more technical sites where they talk about searching the code for changes. I found out that sometimes a code will use the site to infect your computer and then affect your site from there. So I checked my site with my security plugins – no problems found. Then updated the security software on my laptop and ran a scan. Success, it found adware and fake browser software and removed it.
Checked on my phone (on 3G) and the ads had gone. Checked on my laptop “failed to connect”
I tried wifi on my phone and it also failed to connect. Now something was affecting my site through wifi. I didn’t think of it before because all of the other sites were working fine. The forums then said to contact my webhost and internet providers. The webhost told me to try Ping (sends a signal to see if it gets through), Tracert (this tracks all the places the signal goes on the way to see if it gets delayed or stuck along the way) and using a proxy browser (using their site to try and connect instead of using the one from my internet provider). Ping – fine, Tracert – fine, Proxy – fail. I found out that my internet provider was having trouble with one of the servers used by my webhost and it got sorted – as you can tell.
So short list – What to do if your site gets hacked?
- Try a different browser
- Check without using wifi – mobile phone or another wifi (private wifi is much more secure)
- If you can connect, check your site for malware and adware
- then check your computer for the same.
- If not, remove any changes (themes and plugins) you made to your site using your host’s file manager. Try to connect again.
- Try a Ping test – most host sites have a domain tool section with this in. If this fails use Tracert and see where it got stuck. ( it will give you an IP address eg 192.168.0.0 you can search for this on Google as it is the internet’s name for a site) If it is your host or Internet provider call them to fix it.
If your site gets blacklisted you get a page on your computer that usually tells you that a site has been blocked and you can go to the Webmaster sites and get them to remove the list once you have sorted out the problem.
To help prevent this happening there are some things that you can do.
- make sure your site (theme, plugins, platform – eg WordPress) is up to date.
- make sure you have set good passwords ( you know the ones with letter, numbers,special characters etc)
- make sure you have verified the ownership of your site with the browsers (eg Bing and Google) so you can remove blacklisting later.
- back up your site – normally available through your host – so if you need to delete and reinstall it you won’t have lost too much
I hope this helps. Remember stay calm, step back and reassess the issue, ask for help and use it as a learning opportunity instead of the end of the world.
You’re awesome, you can handle anything. Have a great day
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