The 5 Steps I Took to Recover My WordPress Blog from a Hack

By WP Saviour •  Updated: 09/22/20 •  8 min read

My weblog, Leaving Work Behind, was hacked in April. It’s one thing you examine typically sufficient however by no means actually anticipate to occur to you till it’s too late. To be trustworthy I didn’t see myself as a chief candidate — I’ve written about WordPress safety typically sufficient to have loads of preventative measures in place. Nonetheless, these measures have been clearly not complete sufficient.

Getting hacked is one thing I don’t need to undergo once more. There are such a lot of the reason why web site downtime is dangerous in your weblog/enterprise: whereas a lack of site visitors and potential earnings are the 2 most evident, I can’t understate the period of time I misplaced in getting the positioning restored and the quantity of stress it induced me.

On this publish I need to reveal what occurred to my website and allow you to know what I’ve performed to extend the safety of my website since.

Getting Hacked: My Story

I awoke on Thursday 18th April to search out that my website was down and had been for just a few hours. I instantly contacted my internet hosting supplier, Westhost, who knowledgeable me that their ModSecurity firewall had detected uncommon exercise on my website and had shut it down instantly as a precaution. Upon working an preliminary restore on the positioning I may instantly see that it had been hacked. Whereas the adjustments have been comparatively delicate, it was clear sufficient that some unscrupulous kind(s) had been nosing round.

It seems that an enormous variety of WordPress websites had been hacked too, and Westhost had their work lower out. Fortuitously they take each day backups of the positioning and by the next afternoon I used to be again on-line with a model of my website that was as near present as doable.

Right here’s the impact the hack had on my site visitors:


To place the above graph into perspective, that week’s site visitors was down ~30% when in comparison with the earlier week. That theoretically meant a 30% drop in earnings.

It’s honest to say that I used to be eager to make sure (to the perfect of my skills) that such a hack couldn’t be repeated. I took motion instantly.

My Speedy Steps

The very first thing I did was to confirm that I had been following the steps outlined in my latest publish on securing your WordPress web site.

These have been absolutely the fundamentals: updating my themes and plugins, making certain that I had a latest backup, making certain that my default profile was not named “admin,” altering my password, and checking for safety plugins on my website. With these objects in place it was time to maneuver on.

I’m underneath no illusions that my website is now 100% safe — in spite of everything, there isn’t a such factor as a 100% safe website. Having stated that, I do know it’s far safer than it was earlier than and I’ll proceed to analysis website safety measures now and sooner or later. Up to now, that is what I’ve performed.

1. I Put in VaultPress

For these of you who don’t know, VaultPress is a completely automated backup and safety resolution for WordPress. It it owned by Automattic, the de facto “homeowners” of WordPress.

Having been utilizing VaultPress for just a few days now, I can’t consider I used to be so low cost to haven’t stumped up for the service beforehand. Their base bundle begins at $15 per thirty days — I’ll pay that for peace of thoughts any day of the week.

In truth, I selected to go together with their Premium bundle ($40 per thirty days) which incorporates:

Mainly, they’ve obtained you lined.

Whereas VaultPress can’t assure your website’s safety in opposition to hackers, it just about can assure that your website may be restored with relative ease. There’s simply one thing very calming about seeing hourly snapshots of your websites saved on VaultPress’ servers:


Whereas there are many free backup options on the market, I don’t suppose something beats the relative peace of thoughts I get from VaultPress. They’ve obtained 90 snapshots of my website obtainable to revive proper now, of which the latest is simply twenty minutes previous. I do know my website is secure of their fingers.

2. I Managed My Profiles

A hacker can doubtlessly entry your website from any of the administrator profiles inside your WordPress backend — not simply the one you use. After I loaded up my profiles I may see that I had three different profiles — a visitor poster profile, and two different profiles for (reliable) folks I had given entry to my website.

I started by shutting down these two profiles and altering the function of the visitor poster profile to Writer. That is one thing I’d advise you do — solely create as many Administrator profiles as is totally crucial. Moreover, you must in fact be certain that every account as a suitably random and distinctive password and that stated passwords are repeatedly modified.

There are occasions when you’ll need to permit folks (akin to your net designer) entry to your website. In such conditions I counsel that you just create a profile for them with a brand new password, then delete that profile as quickly as its necessity involves an finish.

All the time be fascinated with your website’s factors of entry and whether or not they’re strictly crucial.

3. I Modified My Passwords

It’s possible you’ll suppose this was an apparent transfer, however I’m not really speaking about my WordPress passwords. Though I did change them, I used to be additionally certain to vary all passwords to significantly delicate accounts, i.e.:

Should you’re questioning why I made this transfer, simply think about the story of Mat Honan, whose total digital life was destroyed by hackers who initially hacked into his Amazon account. Should you really feel in any manner blasé about on-line safety then the above article is a must-read.

Contemplate this straightforward chain: a hacker beneficial properties entry to your e mail account from which you lately despatched an e mail to your net designer with login particulars in your WordPress website. That’s all they should achieve entry to your website and do as they please. Hacking may be that elementary.

4. I Upgraded to SFTP

Right here’s one thing you could not know: any information that you just switch by way of FTP (together with your username and password) is totally unencrypted. Subsequently, anybody who’s efficiently capable of intercept FTP transfers will be capable of pickup your login particulars and achieve entry to your account.

Not solely does this enable them so as to add and take away recordsdata as they see match, however they will additionally achieve entry to your WordPress database by way of phpMyAdmin and in the end login to your website.

Put merely, it doesn’t matter how safe direct entry to your WordPress website is that if they hackers can get in by way of FTP. As such, I strongly suggest that you just disable FTP entry to your website and switch recordsdata utilizing the choice SFTP protocol, which does encrypt information. Any good internet hosting supplier ought to have the ability that will help you with this.

Talking of internet hosting suppliers…

5. Contemplate the Suitability of Your Internet hosting Resolution

I’m glad that I’m with Westhost. It was their ModSecurity firewall that noticed the hack within the first place and shut down my website earlier than critical harm might be performed. Additionally they perform computerized each day backups (which have been used to revive the positioning) and have cracking buyer help besides.

Are you able to say the identical in your internet hosting supplier? There are such a lot of nice choices on the market that you’d be loopy to stick with a supplier you might be sad with. You may think about switching to one of many managed internet hosting options (like WPEngine) as WPSaviour did only recently.

No matter your alternative, make sure to inquire as to the safety measures they take. Contemplate the measures I’ve taken above and be certain that they’re appropriate together with your internet hosting resolution.

The ethical of the story is that this: don’t compromise on safety. Finally, conserving your website safe is extra vital than something else. There’s no level having nice content material or a spangly new design if nobody can see it as a result of your website has been torn to shreds by ruthless hackers.

Nefarious varieties who don’t have anything higher to do with their lives than hack folks’s websites should not going to go away any time quickly. The earlier you settle for that and take affordable measures to guard your website from being attacked, the higher for the long run safety of your on-line property.

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WP Saviour

I am a WordPress specialist. My mission is to help you create beautiful websites with ease!