How to Tell if Your WordPress Website is Under Attack

WordPress websites are some of the most popular websites on the Internet, with over 24.9 million sites hosted on the platform as of January 2020. This is mostly thanks to its incredibly flexible and extensible content management system (CMS), which makes it easy for anyone to setup a blog or website with just a few clicks of the mouse.

However, this popularity comes with a price, as cybercriminals have learned to target WordPress websites for web hijacks and attacks. Whether you’re a business or an individual website owner, if your website is hosted on WordPress you can be sure that hackers are already looking for ways to harm your site.

Why Are WordPress Website Attacks On the Rise?

WordPress websites are perfect targets for cybercriminals because of their extremely flexible nature. Anyone can setup a WordPress website with just a few clicks of the mouse, making it incredibly easy to deploy across multiple platforms (e.g., mobile, tablet, and desktop web browsers).

This makes it extremely easy for hackers to target websites, as they don’t need to know how to code in order to set one up. All they need is an internet connection, a computer, and a WordPress account.

Also, because anyone can setup a WordPress website, it is easily hackable from the outside, which makes it an ideal choice for cybercriminals. This, in turn, makes it easier for them to gain access to valuable assets inside your organization (e.g., bank accounts, customers’ personal information).

What To Look Out For

If you’re running a WordPress website and you’re seeing strange behavior or performance issues, it could be a sign that you’re already under attack. Here are some of the most common issues that arise when you’re under hacker assault:

Comment Spam

One of the first things that you’ll notice when you start getting hit with comment spam is that your site is running slow. This is because every time a comment is submitted to your site, the server has to process it, which in turn takes time. While this may not seem like much, when you’re dealing with high volumes of comments (which is virtually inevitable when you have a popular blog or website), it adds up quickly.

Another issue that you’ll encounter when you’re dealing with massive comment spam is that legitimate comments are being drowned out by the mass of junk. This is a common issue when you’re dealing with high profile blogs or websites where most of the comments are coming from bots or spam trolls rather than genuine commenters.

It’s also worth noting that comment spam can take a bit of time to fix. While you’re waiting for the spam to be taken down, you’ll need to keep the comments that are relevant to the conversation. This is usually a tedious process that requires a significant amount of time to monitor and moderate.

Database Issues

If your site’s database is full and you’re unable to login to the admin area, this usually means that your site is under attack. A database attack will frequently cause the site to run slowly or even become completely unresponsive. If this happens, you’ll need to manually recover from backup.

Another issue that can arise when you’re dealing with a database attack is that certain queries can’t be executed due to the presence of corrupted records. The best course of action in situations like this is to identify the bad data and remove it. This can be a tedious process, especially if you’re not sure where the problem lies.

If you suspect that your site is suffering from a database attack, take a look at your database’s storage space. A healthy database should be close to or at least matching the total amount of space available on your web server. If this isn’t the case, then you’re better off investigating the issue before it escalates.

DDoS (Distributed Denial Of Service)

A distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack is a type of malicious activity that tries to overwhelm the server with traffic, either artificially or by coordinating multiple attacks on a swarm of IPs. The result is that the server becomes overloaded and in some cases, crashes.

DDoS attacks can be extremely difficult to mitigate. The best course of action is often to switch to a more stable and powerful server. However, if this is not possible, you can prevent a DDoS attack by taking down the servers that are driving the attack and/or by putting measures in place to guard against future attacks. While this can be difficult, it’s still better than having your site taken down by a DDoS attack.

If you’re dealing with a DDoS attack, take note of the IP addresses of the offending computers, as this will help you identify and take down the source of the attack. If you’re not sure where the problem lies, check your site’s DNS records or use a DDoS protection service.

Login Issues

If you’re having trouble logging in to the admin area of your site, this usually means that your site is under attack. A brute force attack is one of the most common types of attacks where the hacker tries multiple passwords to get access. The best course of action when you’re under a brute force attack is to change your admin passwords frequently (e.g., once a week) and ensure that they’re complex and unique.

If you have a WordPress login, then a hacker will only need to gain access to one of the login credentials to be able to wreak havoc on your site. If possible, change your login credentials to something secure (e.g., a long password made up of random words) and keep track of where you’ve stored them (e.g., in a safe place). When changing your login credentials, make sure that you update all of your site’s links and other online accounts that may be related to the operation of your site. This makes sure that your site’s login is not easily guessed by the hacker.

404 Not Found

A 404 not found error occurs when the server is unable to find a specific page or resource when it gets requested. This can happen for a variety of reasons, but generally it means that the page or resource cannot be found or that the page’s content has been moved to a different location. When you get a 404 error, it usually means that you’re either using an outdated web address or a fake one (i.e., a place that appears to be a valid website but which is actually a scam).

The best course of action when you’re getting overloaded with 404 error is to check your site’s DNS records, as this will usually point you in the right direction (i.e., invalid web address or hacker attack). Keep in mind that sometimes a 404 error can be caused by natural disasters, such as a power outage or a server crash. If you’re not sure where the problem lies, then try the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section of your site’s documentation or contact the website’s support team for help.

Signs Of Trouble

In addition to the issues mentioned above, there are a variety of other signs that can indicate that your website is under attack. Here are some of the most common ones:

Slow Load Time

When your site is under attack, you’ll notice that it takes a lot longer to load than usual. Some major WordPress website attacks can even cause the site to become completely unresponsive. While this may not seem like much, when you’re dealing with busy servers and high volumes of visitors, it adds up quickly.

The best course of action when you’re seeing slow load times is to contact your site’s host support team for assistance. In some cases, they can reset your site’s performance throttling in order to get it back up and running smoothly.

Comment Spam

One of the first signs of trouble is comment spam. If you’re getting hit with massive amounts of comment spam, it usually means that your site is under attack. This type of comment spam can completely mask valid comments, drowning them out by the sheer volume of junk. If you’re not sure how to handle this issue, then contact your site’s host support team for assistance.

Other signs that your site may be under attack include hidden text, forged headers, and high comment moderation turn-around times. Each of these issues is described in more detail below.

What Are The Main Causes Of Hacker Attacks On WordPress Websites?

As noted above, a WordPress website can be very susceptible to attack. This is mostly thanks to its extremely flexible content management system (CMS), which makes it easy for anyone to setup a blog or website with just a few clicks of the mouse.