As you’re reading this article, hackers could be attacking your website. Likewise, hackers could attempt to infiltrate your social media platforms and other websites where you’re maintaining accounts with personal information.

You could be transacting with your favorite e-commerce website and unknowingly have your financial information stolen.

You could be enjoying your usual streaming service and be clueless that some of the site’s ads are releasing malware to infect your PC or mobile device.

Yes, the Internet can be a dangerous place. But if you know the “why” and “how” websites get hacked, you’ll understand what you need to do to protect your online business from becoming another cybercrime statistic.

What Is Hacking?

“Hacking? That will never happen to me.”

That way of thinking will get you hacked. The threat of hacking is very real and growing every day.

But what is hacking? The term is loosely thrown around as an act of cybercrime. Hollywood has glorified hacking as a crime done by some nerdy schoolboy who runs his illegal activities from his mom’s basement.

This is a simplified view of hacking; one that doesn’t consider how the illegal practice and proponents are growing in terms of skill and sophistication.

Hacking is the process of infiltrating computers, other technological devices, and platforms by illegally accessing their systems in order to corrupt, compromise, and control networks.

Hacking isn’t carried out by a loner in a hoodie.

Rather, it has spawned an industry where the main players are large organizations that are well-funded and managed by experienced professionals in the field of Information Technology.

Here are some of the telling statistics about the true and present danger of cybercrime:

  • 2,200 – The number of hacking victims per day.
  • 3.8 Million – The number of personal records stolen every day.
  • US$8 Trillion – Global annual cost of cybercrime.
  • 22 Billion – The number of corporate records leaked in 2022.
  • 277 days – The length of time it takes to identify a breach in data.
  • 847,376 – The number of hacking complaints received by the FBI in 2021 alone.

The Internet creates opportunities for business to grow. Unfortunately, that includes cybercrime where hackers, malware and ransomware developers, phishers, and other types of illegal activities have steadily built a lucrative industry.

And if you feel confident that you won’t get hacked because you don’t have an e-commerce website, you might find out one day that your confidence was misplaced.

Why Are Websites Hacked?

Monetary gain is the primary reason why websites get hacked. But there are other reasons why cybercriminals will try and take control of websites.

1. Monetary Gain

No surprise here. 86% of hackers get into cybercrime for money. There’s money to be made even when the hackers attack small businesses.

  • Confidential information can be used to access personal accounts and online payment platforms to illegally transfer money from the victim’s account to the criminal’s account.
  • Stolen personal information can be used as by hackers to apply for loans, credit lines, and credit cards.
  • Customer lists or databases are often stolen and sold to third parties who will resell the information to different companies as leads.
  • Spamdexing is the process of re-routing site users to illegal websites. Hackers do this by taking control of the websites and editing the original links.
    Once inside the illegal websites, users are at risk of having their data stolen or computers infected by malware.
  • Hackers can inject spyware into your website that can grant criminal third parties access to your customer database and personal information.

Hacking is becoming the perfect crime. The perpetrators can carry out their nefarious schemes and get rich without being seen or caught.

2. Create a Smokescreen for Illegal Activities

Hackers can also incapacitate your website and use it as a smokescreen to run their illegal trade. One of the most commonly used forms of cyber attack used by hackers to disrupt website services is DDoS – Distributed Denial-of-Service.

With DDoS, hackers will flood your server with an unusual volume of Internet traffic to prevent site users from accessing services. While you’re trying to regain control of your website, hackers are using it as a hub for phishing expeditions and malware distribution.

If you migrated your business webmail to Gmail, Google will temporarily suspend services if the search engine suspects it is being used to support cybercriminal activities.

3. Blackmail

Hackers can steal customer databases from small and big businesses and threaten to sell the information unless they’re paid a substantial amount of money.

Hackers also steal personal information and files from personal websites, social media accounts, apps, and computers from unsuspecting individuals.

If they come across information that’s seen as valuable or compromising, they can blackmail the owner to pay them money or face the risk of having the information released publicly.

4. Personal Gain

A hacker could also steal information or control someone’s website and online accounts for personal reasons. The motivation could be financial, revenge, amusement, or to attain a level of notoriety among the community of hackers.

5. Political Gain

It’s no secret that governments carry out state-sponsored hacking to gain a political or economic advantage over a rival political party, or an antagonistic country, or to trigger social unrest during times of election.

Whatever the reason, it can happen to you. If you’re not prepared, you could become the next hacking victim.

How Do Websites Get Hacked?

Hackers are keeping stride – and by some accounts – might even be a step ahead of cybersecurity experts and anti-malware developers.

Because of the potential financial windfall that can be attained, hackers will continue to be resilient in finding ways to overcome your defenses, take control of your website, and steal your assets.

Here are 4 ways your website can get hacked by cybercriminals.

1. Loss Of Access Control

If a hacker gets control of your WordPress website log-in details, you’re in serious trouble.

Hackers are much like the common thief. He won’t just break into your house and steal your valuables in one day. He’ll spend time doing surveillance work; studying potentially vulnerable areas and access points.

Cybercriminals will study the various ways you access your website – personal computer, web host server, email account – and utilize tactics to gain entry through a vulnerable access point.

  • Brute Force Hacking Attacks

Brute force hacking attacks are like robbers picking your door lock with a pin or for the more sophisticated ones – overriding your biometrics by getting ahold of your fingerprints.

Hackers who are able to steal your personal information – full name, birth date, residence, place of birth, parents’ names, siblings’ names, pet’s name, to name a few – and run several combinations until they find the key to your online kingdom.

And it’s not as “brute” as running the possible combinations using pen to paper. Hackers use software to identify all the possible passwords that can be derived from your personal information.

Once they find one of your passwords, the rest is easy because chances are your other passwords are similar.

  • Social Engineering

Have you ever been approached by an individual who promises you a double-digit return on a small investment every month? All you need to avail of the investment is to give up personal information and to pay a small amount as a starting investment.

Chances are, you’ll never hear or see that person again.

Social Engineering is a hacking strategy that uses human psychology to manipulate victims and get them to voluntarily give up personal information, access, and/or money in exchange for the “deal of a lifetime”.

A hacker can find access to your social media accounts and build a “target profile” based on your postings and behaviors. From there, the hacker can launch a phishing expedition and offer you deals that are hard to ignore.

While mostly capitalizing on the human frailty of greed, the social engineer can also use tactics that sow fear.

For example, you might receive an email that you’re under investigation for a particular crime based on recent online activities. The hacker will say he has collected compromising material about you but he’s willing to delete the information in exchange for money.

  • MITM Attacks

MITM is the acronym for Man In The Middle. An MITM attack is similar to having someone uncover your password after overhearing it in a conversation you had with a friend.

Another analogy for an MITM is if your neighbor comes across your mail and decides to open it. He sees your personal information – bank account number, credit card number, and birth date – and takes note of them.

Public areas that offer free Wi-Fi can make you an MITM target. If Wi-Fi access isn’t password protected, don’t use it. Once you log in, the hacker gains access to your phone, the websites, and the platforms where you hold accounts.

Popular targets of MITM attacks are banking websites, e-commerce websites, and social media accounts where log-ins are required. Hackers can plant malware in the servers of these websites. Information that’s sent from your browser can be intercepted by the malware lurking on the servers.

Hackers use technology that can alter the URLs of apps or websites. Site users who access these compromised websites are taken to the hacker’s fake website where their information can be stolen.


Website.That .Will .Grow .Your .Business

2. Outdated Software

As an open-source software program, WordPress allows businesses to customize their websites with features that suit their needs. Thus, WordPress helps reduce costs and supports flexible and agile business strategies.

However, the main issue with open-source code is that the developers of the software cannot consistently maintain and upgrade its plugins, themes, frameworks, and libraries.

Cybercriminals spend a lot of time studying the current versions of plugins, themes, and frameworks and uncovering their vulnerabilities.

If these features aren’t updated and are used frequently, they become access or entry points for hackers to take control of the program and launch their attacks.

Websites aren’t the only places targeted by hackers for vulnerabilities. Your web host provider’s server has vulnerabilities in its code, software, network security protocol, and backend technology that hackers can exploit.

Identifying these weak areas makes it possible for hackers to install malware that steals your information.

3. Integration with Third-Parties

To ensure excellent User Experience (UX), you might decide to enter into agreements with third parties. For example, you might subscribe to a Content Distribution Network (CDN) to speed up the download times of your web pages.

While these third-party integrations will give your website another tool or process to enhance performance, they will also provide hackers with new sources to find vulnerabilities.

There is no perfect system or network layout. Hackers know that and will spend time and resources scanning the technological setup between you and other third parties and look for potential weak points to exploit.

4. Flaws in API Design

Application Programming Interface (API) is a code that allows 2 software programs to interact with one other. Developers will use an API to enable the website to communicate with the Operating System (OS) and other applications in the backend.

A hacker can analyze the API being used and identify its flaws by sending invalid parameters and studying the error messages that are returned. These error messages could include information that gives the hacker clues to weaknesses in your website’s architecture.

Like an evil Sherlock Holmes, the hacker will piece together the information and in a matter of time will figure out vulnerabilities in your website that will grant him access to your assets.

How To Protect Your Website From Hackers

The cost of getting hacked is more than just losing business opportunities when your website shuts down. Customers can run after you for losing their data. When the industry discovers that your website got hacked, your business reputation will take a big hit.

A study done by Cisco and the National Center for the Middle Market revealed that 60% of small to medium-scale businesses close down within 6 months after getting hacked.

Don’t be part of the 60%

Here are 6 ways you can protect your website from hackers.

1. Choose the Right Web Host Service Provider

Choosing the web host service provider is like finding an apartment to stay. You don’t want to live in an area where the crime rate is at an all-time high and the landlord doesn’t offer much in terms of security.

Keep in mind that you’ll store your website assets on the server provided by the web host company.

We recommend choosing a web host that assures you of basic security features such as anti-malware software, firewalls, and automatic daily backups. The service might cost a bit more but the expense is nothing compared to the costs of getting hacked.

2. Get SSL Certificates for your Website

If you come across websites with the “Not Secure” warning or the padlock icon placed before their URLs, those are sites that have been flagged by Google for not having Secure Sockets Layers (SSL) certificates.

SSL is an encryption program that protects data from being stolen on the server by planted malware. Having the “https” precede your URL tells site users that your website is safe.

Google has made SSL mandatory for all websites and not just e-commerce and financial websites. Thus, if your website doesn’t have SSL certificates, you’ll be penalized in the search rankings by Google.

3. Include WordPress Security Plugins

Security should be among the top priority features when you’re in the planning stages of your website. WordPress has an impressive list of security plugins to choose from:

  • Sucuri
  • Akismet
  • WordFence
  • iThemes Security
  • All-in-One WP Security
  • Anti-Malware Security
  • WPScan Security
  • SiteGuard WP Plugin

And more!

You don’t have to load up on security plugins. Go through each plugin and identify the ones with the features you need.

4. Sign Up for Regular WordPress Maintenance Services

Signing up for WordPress maintenance services is like having 24/7 security available for your website. You can sleep peacefully every night knowing that someone is defending your website against hackers. You’re also assured that your website is performing at optimal levels.

With monthly maintenance services locked up, you can be assured that all plugins are regularly updated, daily backups are performed, and security scans are carried out.

Yes, signing up for the service carries a small fee but so does health insurance! Website maintenance services are an additional investment on your website and will help your business generate positive returns.

5. Use Strong Passwords and MFA

We hope none of our readers are still using their birth dates, pet’s name, and “12345” or “abcde” as their passwords.

Create strong passwords that utilize a combination of alphabets, numbers, and special characters. Make it harder for hackers to break by combining upper and lower caste letters.

Use a password manager app to store your passwords so you won’t have to remember them every time you log in.

Having site users pass a Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) system can be an inconvenience but it will protect your website from getting hacked.

A site user might have to go through 3 identification verification processes to validate his log-in credentials. If he doesn’t pass one of the processes including the re-try, he’ll be locked out.

6. Institute and Implement Security Protocols

When you’re working with different people, you’ll have some personalities who take a lackadaisical approach to site security.

From the get-go, have everyone invested and involved in website security by strictly implementing security protocols:

  • Don’t click on anything suspicious. This includes emails and links sent to other communication channels.
  • Restrict access to your website’s admin controls.
  • Create a network that restricts access to non-work-related websites and platforms.
  • Be careful when using public Wi-Fi services.
  • Don’t share passwords and access information with anyone.
  • Designate 1-2 persons to carry out site security protocols. For example, checking if daily backups were carried out and running virus scans.
  • Don’t post personal information on websites.
  • Don’t post work-related information including images of workstations on personal social media accounts.

Website security begins with having the right mindset. Don’t let your guard down and mislead yourself into thinking that you’ll never get hacked.

As Cybersecurity experts have warned, if you’re not prepared to defend your website from hacking, then, it won’t be a question of “if” but “when”.


The global lockdowns of 2020 were implemented to fight off a highly infectious virus. However, the pandemic triggered a paradigm shift in how we lived and worked.

When the lockdowns were lifted, institutions and households slowly began to adapt to the conditions of a remote ecosystem where ironically, we found ourselves dealing with more viruses but of a different kind.

Having more websites and greater online activity means more targets and opportunities for hackers. Your website could be targeted at this moment. Don’t wait until you become a victim before you act.

Act now!

For starters, sign up for one of our WordPress extreme care packages and protect your website from getting hacked. To learn more about our WordPress extreme care package, give us a call, and let’s set up a meeting.

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