Hacking is defined as an attempt to modify the programmed behavior of any application according to the intent of an attacker. The attacker or hacker himself is a computer programmer who penetrates the protection of the original code and modifies its behavior by injecting bad code inside the application. The reason for hacking can be anything, for de-reputing a company or for illegally utilizing its resources of web host like CPU and bandwidth.
The selection of website development tool i.e. software like WordPress, Joomla and Drupal used for developing a website also influences the potential threat which can be faced by a website. For example, WordPress, being the most popular Content Management System in web development, is highly targeted by attackers. The Plugin culture of WordPress further highlights the loose entry points for hackers to easily intrude a website.
Most of the time, websites are hacked due to the reckless approach by administrators for maintaining and securing their respective domains. Following measures can be deployed to reduce the severity of an attack by a considerable amount:
- Website owners often deploy any web hosting service by comparing the price of services without considering the level of security a host can provide. Attackers easily gain access to different websites, hosted on a poorly secured web server. Attackers then intrude web directories of different websites and alter the behavior of the website or any application. Prior to selecting a hosting service, the effectiveness of security of the hosting facility should be checked and a review about the same should be considered.
- File access permission on the web server should be implemented and verified properly and periodically. This ensures that no other person can gain an insight into the code of the application or even the hierarchy of directories. This strengthens the security of the website as well as the web server and provides access only to an authentic administrator with access permissions. It also helps to upgrade the access permission for different people involved in maintaining a website.
- Remove un-used plugins from all the location of the web directory, which were once in use or used for testing purpose. It provides two advantages; it speeds up the load time of the website and it removes any unnecessary entry point in the website which is not usually monitored.
- Another reason that websites are hacked is because websites keep on using outdated plugins and security measures while attackers on the other hand, develop new methods to gain entry in the web directory. So it is desired for the webmasters to apply the new patches and upgrades periodically, as they are released to fill the earlier voids discovered by the team of Ethical Hackers, which website software companies deploy to refresh and upgrade security effectiveness of their platforms.
In most cases, website owners are notified if their website is hacked by web browser’s protection utilities or search engine results. In other cases, hackers re-direct the website to another site or display a message notifying the viewer of the hacking event through a message. Another way of identification can be examined with the unnatural or un-intended behavior of the website like unnecessary pop-up messages, redirects or software download options.