Though we have posted many blogs relating to the different kinds of website hackings that take place, we have spent little time looking at the motives of these attacks and who are most at risk. Website hacking is happening at an alarming rate and it can ruin many business or organization’s reputation and ultimately lose them money. Taking a closer look at the motives of these attacks may help you understand why these attacks happen and how best to prevent them. So, for this blog, we will look at why websites get hacked and what you can do to prevent it.

There are two primary motives for website hacking: money and exposure. Basically, website hackers will either create money by looking for bank data, credit card and/or personal information, if you run an ecommerce website, or by driving traffic from your website through malicious techniques and redirecting them to their sponsors (think SEO poisoning). If website hacks are not for financial gain, then they’re usually hacktivists that want to deface your homepage to spread their political or ideological messages.

Now whether you have a small or large website is irrelevant when it comes to the risk of being hacked. It’s all related to how vulnerable your website is. No website is completely impervious, but those that adopt good security measures are far less likely to become victims of hacking compared to those that don’t. This is why, statistically speaking, smaller websites are generally more likely to become victims, Larger websites usually have to maintain a good online security standard as their reputation could be tarnished. Smaller website owners may simply be unaware of the risks that are out there or think they’re unlikely to be targeted, but the fact is, the contrary is true. Hackers scan the web to find websites that have software vulnerabilities, usually because the sites are a little outdated and lack recent security updates. Either that or the website has adopted some bad login and password practices, which makes it easy for hackers to guess weak passwords by using brute-force tools and programs.

Once they have access, they can start to do all sorts of damage. As spoken about in previous blogs, there are many different attacks that can be carried out. However, according to Sucuri, SEO spamming or SEO poisoning is one of the most common. This happens when hackers use malicious software that infects the CMS and server, where it modifies the site’s content or injects thousands of new spam pages. These modified or injected pages contain spam links and keywords that are used to fool Google, so when your website appears in search results you will find that your business or organization is promoting pharmaceutical drugs, casinos, etc. This can have a long lasting effect on your credibility and search engine positioning.

So how can you prevent yourself from being a victim of hacking? As mentioned countless times, it is all about simply adopting good website security practices. Good security practices will both decrease the likelihood of you being attacked and also minimize the damage done during online attacks. We wrote a  previous blog that goes into detail on how to secure your website from hackers, however, to sum up, update your website software as much as possible, practice strong and unique password creation, monitor your site for suspicious activity, consider a good security plugin, and backup your site frequently. If you do feel that your website might have been hacked, either contact us or Sucuri as soon as possible.