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Blog: The Coder Corner

Early warning signs that your site could be hacked.

Could it be hacked? Absolutely!

Let’s first see if that site is really hacked or if there something else going on. Here are some signs something may be amiss:

  • You get returned emails by the boat load saying “Couldn’t be delivered” (knowing that you never sent those emails out).
  • People contact you about weird behaviour on your site, like being redirected to a different site, by clicking on a link.
  • People telling you that they see “Chinese” characters on your site.
  • Google placing a red screen in their browser when you navigate to your site

Usually that’s where "suspicions” end and surety begins, your site was hacked [insert devil/sad/crying/angry smiley here, depending on your temper of the moment]

Apart from the google warning that your site may be hacked or untrustworthy, there are still a few things you need to check. When your site displays apparently normally for you, press Ctrl+U in Google Chrome or Right Click + View Source in FireFox.

Take a good look at the “code” on that new page and see if there is anything that shouldn’t be there, AT ALL. Links to foreign websites, scripts that shouldn’t be there, images that are declared with 0x0 pixel dimensions. All those things are suspicious until proven otherwise. Note that I go from guilty to innocent here, unlike the laws in our country.

If you still can’t discern anything wrong, it might be time to give us at Coolcom a shout and ask for a quick look. A quick look doesn’t cost anything (unless requested unreasonably often) and will give you a definitive answer to your hacking question.

Should your site be hacked, then we have multiple options available. We can restore it to a previous version from a few weeks ago (max 8 weeks) or we can clean it up by hand. Cleaning it by hand it a labour intensive operation and fairly costly.

However, some hacks may have been in place long ago (more than 8 weeks) and may never have been activated until recently. In those cases, a clean-up or a restoration of one of your own backups can be considered, as our backups may already contain the hack.

Signs that don't necessarily mean your site is hacked but should be checked over:

  • You're getting a lot of spam suddenly. Are your spam filters set up properly?
  • People complaining you sent them inappropriate emails. Did you get “subscribed” to inappropriate websites?
  • You are suddenly blocked from sending email to a gmail or AOL address, claiming you sent them too many emails. Did you keep your email password to yourself?

Here at Coolcom we can check out the pipes of your email and clean them out if necessary.

Again, this is a labour intensive and time consuming operation. Fees may be required for us to do it completely.

  • Getting spammed heavily is not necessarily a sign of being hacked.
  • Getting complaints about your site not doing what it is supposed to is.

Before things get worse and your business suffers from it, drop us a line in the helpdesk explaining the symptoms and we will check it out.

Henk von Pickartz

Written by : Henk von Pickartz

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