Seven Things Hackers Do With Compromised WordPress Sites

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Hackers are notorious for attacking WordPress sites and conducting malicious activities on such platforms. Research has shown that hackers are usually after both monetary gain and the opportunity to damage people’s reputation. Content creators who own WordPress sites often assume that there is little that a hacker can do with their platforms owing to the ease of setting up a new site on WordPress.

However, that assumption is misplaced since modern WordPress sites are highly sophisticated. Many hackers are aware that a WordPress site is worth more than the emails and login passwords of the admin. The following are the most common activities that hackers will attempt upon taking over your WordPress site.

 

Concealed Attacks

Hackers avoid launching attacks from identifiable servers. WordPress sites make perfect attack points since hackers often encounter problems when they attempt to run harmful software from their own sites. To solve this problem, they settle for the servers that belong to their victims.

This way, it appears that a fairly reputable company is running harmful software or leaking the retrieved content to the public space. The interest that such attacks generate spikes traffic making it difficult to corner the culprits until too much damage has already been done. Overall, it is not possible to predict what hackers will down with your compromised WordPress site.

In many cases, their actions will depend on the initial intentions, the contents of your website, and the period that they have allocated to their attack. In many cases, hackers will have more than one use for you compromised website. To hackers, the more they can extract out of your compromised site, the better.

 

Installing Malware and Backdoors

When your WordPress website is compromised, it is very likely that the attackers will install foreign software immediately. In some cases, they do this with the aim of taking advantage of your operations once you are back in operation. You need to realize that the worst kinds of hacking attacks are the undetected ones.

A hacker considers an undetected attack to be more successful than one where they were detected. Should they get away with an undetected attack, they will install programs that compromise your future use of the site. For instance, they may plant scripts that automatically mine a certain fee from stored credit card numbers.

In such a scenario, the hackers would ensure that the amount is meager enough not to arouse immediate suspicion. There are situations where such attacks have gone undetected for years allowing hackers to steal millions of dollars. The hackers may also install backdoors that allow them to spy on their competitors.

In the second case, they can later sell the high-value insight to your competitors constituting what would be termed as industrial espionage. You should keep in mind that hackers will install malware and backdoors on your compromised WordPress site as a means to future attacks of different kinds.

 

Bragging Rights

It is extremely common for hackers to take down a WordPress site just to brag that they have succeeded in confronting their ideological enemies. Such scenarios are often motivated by political differences between terrorists and governmental officials. When hackers take down your site for this purpose, they will go ahead and change the login credentials such that you only have the domain registration in your control.

The hackers will then proceed to replace some of your content with their own. It is common for such hackers to announce that they have taken over your site and have done so due to ideological differences on your home page. In most of these cases, the hackers are extremely careful to inform who they are.

Terrorist often uses this method to pass their warning message to different governments and corporate leaders. For instance, they may replace the cover image of your website with an imprisoned or decapitated government enemy. Usually, the first step in resolving this situation is contacting the law enforcement and taking down the website. Anonymous are notorious for defacing websites using this fashion.

 

Spamming

Spam emails offer a lucrative business to hackers around the world. Nearly, every email user has dealt with spam emails at one time or another in their online activities. It appears that WordPress sites are an attractive source of potential spam recipients. Firstly, you need to know that many WordPress sites will have a mailing list of the subscribed visitors.

When hackers compromise your site with this intention, they will naturally collect your emails for use in spamming. They can sell the emails to culprit companies with the aiming of stealing your customers or luring them into a service that they do not need. In other situation, hackers may attempt to spam internet users directly from your WordPress site. This is common in situations where the hackers compromise a site without arousing suspicion.

They can then proceed to contact the customers with various demands. With impersonation, it is possible to steal from the customers. The greatest problem with these kinds of hackers is that many website owners realize that they have been hacked when it is too late.

These kinds of attacks can lead to bankruptcy if your only means of communicating with your customers is an email address. As an illustration, consider a situation where hackers take over your WordPress site and access your corporate email credentials. They may decide to contact your subscribers promising very attractive offers on premium services or products.

They may give your subscribers a 60% off deal on your most expensive products only to direct the payments elsewhere. Worse, they may demand that the subscribers provide credentials to their financial accounts. The magnitude of the damage that such an attack can cause is unprecedented.

 

SEO Theft

Some attackers may decide to boost their earnings by manipulating your high traffic WordPress site. Usually, such attackers aim at short-term gains that give their own sites a boost in traffic during the hack. These kinds of attacks happen to highly regarded websites whose reputation commands a lot of traffic.

If hackers compromise such a website, they only need to superimpose your content with theirs for a few hours. They may place their own pages on your WordPress site or embed links that lead your visitors to their sites. If they can attract some decent amount of traffic from your website, they can retain some of the new visitors long after the attack has stopped.

These types of attacks are especially prevalent from porn websites. The hackers realize that they only need to expose a large number of your visitors to their content for a few minutes or hours in order to acquire return visitors. Other attackers then have utilized this kind of tactic is pharmaceutical companies. Consequently, SEO hacks are often called ‘pharma hacks’ since many drug stores have been committed such malicious activities.

With pharma hacks, it is possible to narrow down on the attackers and take the appropriate legal actions. However, the actual hackers will hide their digital location using virtual private networks that bounce their IP addresses across the world. It is possible to recover compensation in damages if the police can prove that there is some kind of relationship between the hackers and your competitor who benefited from the hack.

 

Phishing

One of the main reasons why WordPress sites are so popular and ubiquitous is that they are easy to setup and present the admin with many customization tools such that they function as full websites. This feature is a source of weakness since hackers can easily mimic the interface of a WordPress site within minutes.

In this type of attack, the hackers design a login page that is similar to yours before cracking your site. Once they succeed, they replace some of your site features with their own allowing them to trick your users. When your users visit your site, they are prompted to enter their login or financial credentials depending on the nature of your platform.

The hackers collect the credentials and proceed to sell them to interested parties. They may also steal their money in the case of credit cards. Sophisticated hackers may use your visitors’ details to steal their identities allowing them to commit other similar crimes with minimal risk of identification.

Depending on the relationship that you have established with your users, the hackers may lure them to install malicious software that would infect their smart phones and computers. With such access, the hacker can access their financial information, family folders, and other sensitive data and use these for nefarious purposes. They may also spy on your visitors by taking control of the input components such as PC microphones and cameras.

If you own a WordPress site, you need to be very careful with regard to phishing attacks. Search engines have implemented programs that flag sites that compromise the visitors’ privacy. Aside from blacklisting or lowering the ranking of your site, your visitors could demand compensation for the incurred damages.

Inasmuch as most WordPress owners have not reported phishing, it is possible that they aware unaware of the successful attacks. Many professional black hackers will steal the data that they need and move on to their next project without bragging or informing the site owner. They do this to ensure that the site remains exploitable in future.

 

Installing Ransomware

As the name suggests, ransomware is a kind of program that locks you from your WordPress site and demands that you pay up in order to buy back your access. This kind of an attack is rare but can be devastating to content creators who rely on their sites to store valuable information. This is because you can only view your site s a visitor when hackers use ransomware.

Moreover, the hackers will warn you of dire consequences should you try to hack your way into the website and regain control. There are many reasons why hackers would demand ransom. However, in most cases, they do so for monetary gains.

To keep their tracks covered, they will request you to enter the dark or deep web in order to buy back your site. Also, they will rarely use mainstream financial services that are traceable. In most cases, the hackers prefer payment using crypto currencies such as Etherium or Bitcoin.

Depending on the amount of money that your attackers want, you can simply decide that it is not worth the site. The situation becomes complicated if your site has content that can be used to blackmail you. For instance, the hackers may threaten to expose private data that you are not supposed to have to the public leading you into instant trouble. Blackmail is more common than ransomware, especially for politically motivated reasons.

A terrorist might take over your WordPress site and threaten to expose some sensitive information if you do not take a certain position that will benefit them or their sympathizers. Blackmail cases are usually more complicated than ransomware since the decision that you make could affect many people’s lives in future. Moreover, most democracies have an official position to never negotiate with terrorists regardless of the situation.

 

Conclusion

WordPress sites are some of the most popular content platforms on the internet. They have attracted content creators from most professionals and allowed individuals to setup various services. However, these features make them a conspicuous target for hackers.

While their security has improved over the past few years, hackers have not relented in their malicious efforts to undermine the work of the site owners. There are many reasons that motivate hackers to attack a site. However, many such criminals undertake a pattern of activities once they get hold of a site.

They may decide to install malware and backdoors that they can exploit in future. They may simply be looking for bragging rights as the people who took you down. In some cases, they may wish to spam your email list or conduct concealed attacks from your site. They could be trying to steal your traffic to compete against you. Finally, hackers could conduct phishing or install ransomware on your compromised website.

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