Like in the real world, the Internet can be a very dangerous playground with highly intelligent individuals looking to manipulate the internet for their own personal gains and it’s these individuals you must to watch out for.
Who are we talking about ? We’re talking about “Hackers” and no, not the kind that hacks wood. We’re talking about a person who uses computers and the internet to gain unauthorized access to sensitive information and overnight can cripple any business and leave your customers in a panic.
As you are well aware advertising is big business, and with Google, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter controlling a large proportion of the internet space, businesses and industry professionals are all looking to advertise through these mediums.
With advertising being big business this brings about individuals who will look to hijack your traffic.The most common method happening today is website redirect.
The traffic hacker will look to compromise your website by 1. Hacking your site or 2. Hacking your server and depending on what CMS you’re using for example WordPress, unknown plugins can also be compromised.
This individual will place a snippet of code within a file hidden deep within code so it doesn’t draw attention. This code will have cause a user to redirect away from your website to affiliate offers or spam thus stealing your web traffic. If you’re running advertising campaigns through Google or Facebook, than this can be quite costly for you and your business.
The best case scenario is the individual is not highly experienced and will place big sloppy code (view picture below) in most obvious places like footer.php or header.php in the theme folder.
This particular code doesn’t affect your website on desktops, but mobiles. If you don’t check your website on a mobile device for a few days you will be unaware that users are being redirected off your site. This could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in business lost
If you find that users are being redirected off your site, there are a few things you need to do.
1. Check Website For Malware.
Before you do anything the first step is to check your website for malware by using a website malware scanner like Sucuri. You want to make sure you don’t have corrupt files. If scan comes back clean go to step 2 if it doesn’t, restore your website to a clean functional backup.
2. Inspect Page Source Code
Inspecting your website source code will show all code rendering on your website including any suspicious code. To inspect page source code right click > view page source or simply press Ctrl+U.
3. Check all .htaccess files
If you have no luck in step 3, your next move is to check all .htacces files. To do this you need to go to file manger on your server. Depending on your host provider popup will appear like in the picture below. Make sure you have “Show Hidden Files” ticked otherwise your .htaccess file won’t be visible
Once you locate your .htaccess file, click edit. Check for any suspicious Rewrite Rules like you see in the picture below.
If you see this code please delete it immediately.
Hopefully after these steps you would have located the hackers code and you if haven’t, check all index.php files on your server. If you’re using WordPress deactivate all plugins and finally check inside your uploads folder for any suspicious files that shouldn’t be there or duplicate files designed to blend in.
When you have everything back to normal make sure to bolster your security by
- Changing website and server password to something more secure for example. Hf5$%jnGu&V
- Purchase an SSL certificate
- Have your hosting provider turn firewall on if it isn’t already
and remember to continually check your website across all devices to make sure there is no suspicious redirects happening.