Every sensible business makes their operations more effective through the savvy use of technology. But our reliance on this technology can prove problematic if we’re ever faced with a cyber-attack. Unfortunately, the statistics don’t make for reassuring reading. There were a record number of data breaches in 2016 and these figures look set to keep on rising.
Cyber-attacks usually come in one of two forms:
- Hackers can install malware onto your website. This malware is then automatically downloaded by anyone who visits your website. Malware may allow a hacker to view sensitive information such as credit card details when they’re inputted onto any website. It can also be used to disable a computer with the hacker then claiming a ransom for its release.
- Alternatively, hackers can add spam content to your website. This could take the form of content, ads, links or hidden text. Hackers are also able to add key loggers that capture the personal data your customers enter onto your website.
Whilst it’s the cyber-attacks on big businesses and government organisations that make the headlines, smaller businesses are an easy and increasingly popular target for hackers too. If your website has fallen victim to their hacking attempts, you’re likely berating yourself on all of the things you could have done to prevent this from happening. Forget the guilt-trip and start focusing on what to do now!
Here’s a step by step guide:
- Contact Your Hosting Provider
Your website host can often provide you with information on the hack and even work with you to remedy it. If recovering from the hack isn’t straightforward you may need to seek professional advice on what to do. And if, as is sometimes the case, your hosting provider isn’t particularly helpful, consider moving to another host where site recovery is included in the transfer over.
- Take Your Site Offline
Taking your site offline temporarily, while you work to fix the hack, helps to protect internet users (and your customers!) and prevent the hacker from creating any further damage. Your hosting provider can usually help with taking your site offline.
- Review User Accounts and Passwords
You should, without fail, change all passwords for your website. They shouldn’t follow the same pattern as any previous passwords – hackers have exceptional software that can work these things out. You should also check whether the hacker has created any new user accounts. If suspicious accounts have been created, make a note of them and then delete them.
- Use Google Webmaster Tools
Google Webmaster Tools is an essential weapon in your fight back against a hack. It can alert you to a problem with your website. It can also provide you with the tools you need to identify the type of hack that has occurred and instruct you in the steps you need to complete in order to fix it.
- Patch Up Website Vulnerabilities
A weakness in your website and its security protection allowed the hackers in. Make sure it doesn’t happen again by working to protect your site. This means updating plugins and virus protection. You should also brush up on internet safety so it becomes easier to identify suspicious emails and links that may contain malware.
- Get the Google Seal of Approval
If Google picked up on the hack before you did, chances are they have flagged your website as dangerous. In search results, your website will come with a warning about potential security issues for users and your ranking in search results is also likely to be affected. Once your website is clean from malware and fully protected against it, request a website review from Google. All being well, Google will then remove warnings from your website and your site will once again attain a good standing in search results.
As with anything, prevention is a lot easier than the cure when it comes to a website hack. Working to restore your website will take a lot of time and effort. But, rest assured, there are lots of people and resources out there to support you in getting your website and your business back on track. Good luck!