What does it mean to get hacked?
"Hacked" is a term you hear thrown around a lot — especially regarding websites — without much definition.
If your website is hacked, it means a few things:
- Someone gained access to your account (typically via File Transfer Protocol, a.k.a. FTP). By gaining FTP access, hackers can insert their own code on your site.
- After gaining access to your site, they put malicious code in it. What the code does depends on the hacker's objectives.
Because hacking can be extra insidious, sometimes your site can get hacked without you ever realizing it. Other times, hackers will be incredibly ham-fisted and either bring down your site or replace it with an obscene message.
Among the other unpleasant things hackers do to sites:
- Install viruses on visitor's computers
- Redirect visitors to other sites
- Use your website to attack other websites, bringing them down
Now, unfortunately, there's no LoJack® for a hijacked website, but there are a few things you can do to make sure you don't fall victim to a hacker:
- Use a secure password. This means something better than just tacking a numeral 1 to the end of your first dog's name. We have information in Keeping Your Hosting/FTP Password Secure.
- Have your site scanned regularly. A lot of companies offer tools that will go through your site looking for malicious/suspicious-looking code or activity.
- Update your website's software. If you use something like WordPress®, keeping your software up-to-date is the difference between your site running smoothly and having a site infested with malware
By being aware of the threat of hackers and taking a few precautions, you can stop your site from harming visitors and other sites around the Internet.