WordPress is not just popular among users but also hackers. That is quite a bummer, but we can’t say no to WordPress, can we? To make the WordPress experience better and stress-free, you must ensure that your website doesn’t have many vulnerabilities(tackling down all vulnerabilities can be almost impossible). One of the consequences you could face due to vulnerabilities can be the WordPress website redirect hack.
Did you ever visit a website only to be landed on a completely random and irrelevant website? I bet you were disappointed because I was when it happened to me. Everyone visits a website for a reason, and it could last a wrong impression on a visitor if they get redirected to another website. So if you are worried that your website might be a victim of the redirect virus, this article will help you fix it up.
What Is WordPress Redirect Hack, And How Can It Affect Your Website?
In a WordPress redirect hack, an attacker will add malicious code to your website, which takes your visitors to a different website like a phishing page, malware site, etc. One thing that is different about this attack from others is that this attack is like a billboard saying that your website is unsafe.
As soon as the users notice that they got redirected to a different site, it’ll dawn on them that your website is vulnerable and hacked. No one trusts an unsafe website, and your website reputation will take a drastic hit. This attack not only hurts your website reputation but also other things like:
- Hackers could get paid to steal confidential information from your website. Financial loss is also a possibility.
- There’s a high chance that Google will blacklist your website. Google might as well display “This website may be hacked.”
- Your website might get suspended by your web host.
- User data can be stolen and get sold on the dark web. Or worse, your visitors’ devices could get infected with malware.
- It can affect your website’s loading speed.
- You could lose access to your and other websites on the same server will be inaccessible too.
Signs And Symptoms Of WordPress Redirect Hack
Every attack shows subtle changes in your website. The sooner you realize them, the easier it will be for you to fix the hack. Here are some obvious ways to detect WordPress redirect hacks:
- You might’ve already guessed the first sign, but I’ll still mention it. Your site will get redirected to a different website(You thought “duh,” didn’t you?)
- You will see a 404 error page while accessing the dashboard through wp-admin.
- You won’t be able to access your website front end.
- You can’t log into your website admin area.
- You’ll see a notice that says “ERROR There is no user registered with that email address” while logging into wp-admin.
- You’ll see spam websites when you search for your website on Google.
- You’ll notice unknown push notifications on your website.
- You will find unknown files on your website server.
Why Is Your Website A Victim Of WordPress Redirect Hack?
Here are some security mistakes users make that’ll grab the attention of hackers to inject redirect virus on your website:
- Not updating WordPress software, plugins, and themes,
- Using nulled plugins or themes,
- Predictable login credentials,
- Unsafe web host choice,
- Not securing files and folders,
- And not using a security plugin can be a few vulnerabilities that hackers prey on for their benefit.
How To Fix WordPress Redirect Hack?
Before we get into the steps for fixing the hack, you must backup your website. It is always a good practice to backup your website before making any changes to it. Now, here comes the steps:
#1 Change Your WordPress Password
Start with changing your WordPress password. Later, look at all the users, verify their emails and delete unrecognized users.
If you can’t access your dashboard to change the password, you can proceed by accessing PHPMyAdmin. Find wp_users or something similar that ends with _users(in case the prefix is different). Select the option and delete the unknown users. Later, change your password and save the changes made.
#2 Check .Htaccess And Wp-config.php Files
Check .htaccess files and wp-config.php files to look for additional code because most hackers target these crucial files to inject malicious code. If you have a clean copy of these files, compare them with the present codes to find malware.
If you do, make the changes and ensure that you do not change anything except the malicious code. Making changes to these files is risky, and website backup is necessary before you make any alterations.
#3 Look Into WordPress Core Files
Are you still unable to access your dashboard? It might be because your WordPress core files got infected with the redirect virus. One way to tackle this is by replacing the old WordPress files and folders like the wp-admin, wp-includes with new ones with the help of FTP and your host File manager.
Or you can manually check all the files like wp-includes/index.php, index.php, wp-admin/network/index.php, and wp-admin/user/index.php and rid them of malicious code. We generally see the malware code on the top of the files, so start looking from there.
#4 Check Your Theme Files
Review all your theme files like wp-content/themes/your_theme/footer.php,
wp-content/themes/your_theme/index.php, wp-content/themes/your_theme/header.php, and more. It can be a lot of trouble checking all the theme files. I would suggest that it is easier to delete the current theme and reinstall it.
If you use a nulled theme, the hack is probably the result of the nulled product. Most of the time, malware infections occur due to nulled plugin/theme installations.
#5 Check Your Website URL
Sometimes hackers change your website URL different one through wp-options. To remedy that, go to PHPMyadmin and select wp-options. Ensure that the table has the correct URL of your website.
#6 Install Your Plugins Again
Plugin vulnerabilities are also common backdoors for hackers to implement redirect hacks on your website. So, delete all the existing plugins and reinstall them.
#7 Clean Your Website Cache Files
This step is the one that goes unnoticed most of the time. Even though you clean your WordPress files, your website might still be running the cache files. To prevent that, you must clean all your cache files on the website.
#8 Update WordPress Software, Plugins, And Themes
Outdated WordPress software, plugins, and themes are the most common security errors users make. Always ensure to install updates as soon as they are available to you. It is a small step but holds a great value to it.
#9 Install A Security Plugin
Installing a WordPress security plugin plays an extreme role in backlashing hacker attempts. Using a security plugin with a built-in firewall as the Hide My WP security plugin does will prove much more helpful. One of the common ways to inject redirect virus is through XSS injection, and the Hide My WP plugin’s firewall can block that attack.
Here are some other best features of the Hide My WP security plugin:
- You can use this plugin to hide your Login Page.
- Hide My WP plugin’s firewall can block dangerous attacks like SQL injection, CSRF, Command Injection, brute-force attacks, and more.
- Protect your website by disguising the elements in your website’s source code by changing text/URL with the help of this plugin.
- Hide/Change all default WordPress paths.
- Choose from three different levels of security during set up to protect your website.
The WordPress redirect hack is transparent to the users and will ruin your website reputation instantly. Though it is a very stressful situation to be in, you can still fix the damage by identifying the malicious code and erasing it. With a little bit of patience and focus, you can bring your beloved website back to normal. It is also necessary that you avoid making security mistakes to prevent this attack and many others along with it.