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How To Spot If Your Website Is Hit By Malicious Redirect Malware

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Have you found that your WordPress has started redirecting to another website recently? In most cases, this means that your visitors are being redirected to obscene or spam websites and this is the result of being hacked. If this has happened to your website, then it is absolutely crucial that you fix it immediately. 

Thousands of different WordPress hosted websites have been infected with malicious code and JavaScript in the past months, with a dramatic spike in January. These hackers exploited vulnerabilities found in a number of different plugins on WordPress sites, with the most popular being the Contact Form which is used alongside PayPal. 

Whether it be an outdated software, weak password or a flaw or glitch in a currently installed plugin, hackers use these gateways to gain access to a vulnerable website. Once the hackers have accessed the website, they are then able to flood the site and code with JavaScript so that it sets off numerous spam redirects to fraudulent sites where visitors are then tricked into inputting their personal information via “survey for gift” schemes, which then installs the infected malware. 

Unfortunately for site owners, the JavaScript used by these hackers is then able to make further changes to any existing WordPress files by using the /wp-admin/theme-editor.php extension. This is a way of adding further malware, such as PHP backdoors and hack tools so that they can maintain unauthorized access.

How to spot if your website has been affected

If you have noticed this happening on your website, then this is, unfortunately, a result of your website being hacked. If this has happened, then it is vital that you try your best to solve this issue immediately and take back control of your website. 

If you are pressed for time and need to also clean up your website, then there are some automated malware removals which can do this, but in order to stop this from happening again in the future, you need to understand what has happened and why. 

The security of your website is important and particularly more so if it is hosted on WordPress. This is because WordPress is a popular hosting choice for many websites, with around 35% of all worldwide websites being hosted on there, so is a popular choice for hackers. According to a recent study, 90% of all WordPress websites have been infected with malware. 

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How do hackers cause a website to redirect?

There are a few tricks which hackers use in order to get access to your website. Some of the most common ways are:

  • Adding themselves as a ghost admin onto your website
  • Changing the homepage URL
  • Adding malicious malware onto your WordPress database and files

In most cases, visitors will find that there are being redirected to another website before they land on the homepage of your website. The tricky thing about these kinds of hacks is that they can lie unnoticed and dormant on your website and unless it is bought to your attention, you might be hacked for quite some time. 

If you have noticed that your website is redirecting, then you need to rectify it immediately, Redirects can have hugely damaging impacts on your website and your visitors and can lead to very severe repercussions. 

Why you should worry about malicious redirects?

A malware hack which causes redirects can lead to severe and sometimes irreversible damage to your website for a number of reasons.  

Your SEO will be affected

It is no easy task to get your website ranking on search engines and can take a lot of time and effort. Once your website is hacked in this way, hackers will then use your SEO efforts to cause even further damage. 

Your traffic will drop as your visitors are redirected to malicious sites and hackers can place links inside your website, meaning that if a visitor was to click on it, they’ll be redirected. A malware hack can cause Google to penalise your site for bad backlinks, and recovering your SEO can take months. 

Google may blacklist your website

Google prioritises the safety and experience of users above all else. If your website is putting users at risk, then Google may well blacklist your website. Visitors who try to visit your website will be shown a warning sign from Google informing them that the website is at risk, or they will be blocked from entering the website. 

Your brand image will be affected

One of the worst parts of being hacked is that your brand image, which you have worked so hard to build, can be shattered in a moments notice. In the majority of cases, customers who see that a website has been hacked are very unlikely to return. 

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How to clean and detect malicious redirects

Your website is redirecting because of the infected codes which the hackers have added. To remove these redirects, you need to find where the malware and code has been hidden and remove it. But, the issue with this is that this could be hidden anywhere, from your database, “.htaccess” file or even discreetly hidden in your uploads. You can scan your website, either by using a security plugin or by manual search, to find the malicious code.

Manual scanning

During a manual website scan, you may find yourself looking for known patterns of code which are often used in a malicious way. Should you find a snippet of this code, then it can be easily removed, but the problem with this method is that it will only ever match a known pattern. This part of the code can be used in a number of different patterns and can be a relatively tedious process. 

Keyword identification

Another way that you can search for malicious code is to search for known keywords which are commonly used within malicious code, such as “base64_decode” and “eval”. One of the drawbacks when using this method is that, like manual scanning, you can find that these keywords can be used to form legitimate code. A lot of plugins, especially on WordPress, so searching for these isn’t a foolproof plan. 

Matching plugin files

Another way that you can search for malicious redirects on your website is by matching the plugins you have used. Make a list of the different ones installed on your website and then download the same plugins again from the repository. Then you can match the two to look for any differences to spot where the code is hidden. This is a highly effective, but time-consuming, way to search for and identify malware. There are a number of versions of plugins and not all of these are available for public use, so modifications may have been made.

In an ideal world, you should use a trusted security plugin to scan your site and files for malware and this should then deal with the additional task of cleaning your website too.

Protecting your website from future malicious redirects

By simply just locating where the malware is on your website and cleaning up the site, you are not protecting your website against any future malicious hacking attempts. It is vital that you take security measures for your website seriously so that it is protected from future hacks and attacks. There are many recommended security measures across all CMS’, which means that website owners can implement some of, if not all, of those recommended. 

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Manually implementing these measures onto your website may take some form of expertise, especially if you are not too sure as to what you are searching for. You can use some of the WordPress security plugins and features as a first measure to protect and fix your website and then get a professional to look into it further. 

This is particularly important if you work with other businesses and websites who’s information may also be vulnerable or if you are an investor. Ideally, you should always carry out technical due diligence in these cases – remember that bad technology and practises will guarantee failure. 

What next? 

Moving on from your website being hacked in this way can be quite a stressful and time-consuming period, especially if your website is your means of income. You should ensure that the modification of the primary files on your website are disabled so that you can prevent any future hackers from inserting malicious files and code onto your site again. This should be done as part of your website’s best practices and security hardening steps

If your web host suspended your account following your website being hacked and removed your website, then you can get in touch with the support team and explain the situation to them. You can send them screenshots along with any other important information which they may require. They can verify your website and, once they have the information which is needed, they will un-suspend your account. 

Every website owner should bear in mind that having a website and presence online which can store valuable user data and information is a big responsibility and one which shouldn’t be taken lightly. Data is a hugely valuable commodity these days and is what hackers are looking for when they carry out these attempts on websites. Take time investing in your website’s security and ensure that you have reliable backups and effective security measures in place to make sure that your website is fully working. 

Submitted by guest author: Natalie Wilson is a freelance writer for many business and technology publications. With a wide range of knowledge in the sectors, she is an avid researcher and writer in the field, taking particular interest in Northern tech brands.. Having worked with a number of different businesses, Natalie is now a freelance writer looking to specialize in the sector. You can connect with her on Twitter @NatWilson976.

Alex is a content marketing specialist based in the UK. He likes to write about various subjects and is currently working for digital marketing agency Breakline which is offering SEO Services to UK businesses.

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Always get a head start – Why should you start your blog with a coming soon page?

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One always wonders how to start off their site. The simplest thing to do is to prepare, design and then in the end just make it go live. While this is what most people do (create a site and immediately jut make it go live), it is not the most effective way of starting a website.

When you are finished with the creation of your site, you should first want to create a sort of “hype” when the site is supposed to go live. That is why you need a coming soon page which will create a build-up of fans who are going to come and visit it on day one!

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is where a coming soon page comes in handy!

What is a coming soon page?

A coming soon page is especially a site that consists of a single page. In this page, you can establish your social media accounts, what you are about, and you can add a sort of timer which will countdown when your site is going to go live. With it, you will also be able to establish a brand well before the brand has come out. 

It will also increase your footprint on search engines like Google or Bing. To be more accurate, you will be getting their attention in hopes of starting off your SEO.

Stats and analytics

There is also the purpose of analyzing your audience before they start going through your site. Some plugins can offer you analytical insight into what your audience is about, which browsers they are going to be using and from which device they are going to be visiting your site from. This allows you to further prepare and polish your site taking into accounts such stats. For example, you might notice that a lot of your visitors are using mobile phones to visit your site. With this knowledge, you can then invest more time in optimizing the mobile version of your site in order to accommodate your visitors visiting your site through mobile devices.

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Social media

The other thing that people forget is your social media accounts. With a coming soon page, you can increase the number of subscribers on your social media accounts by a large margin. If you promote your social media links on the coming soon page and vice versa, you will gain a large enough following in all spheres. This will make promoting your future blog that much easier. 

It is a simple concept to understand, and if you do it properly you can reap the benefits within a couple of minutes of your site going live.

Get subscribers sooner

The coming soon page is also a great way of receiving additional subscribers to your blog well before you have posted any content. The trick is to create the coming soon page to look as professional and as clean as possible. It has to draw attention and curiosity from your visitors to ensure that they will come along when it goes live.

A coming soon page is also a great front for trying to find potential customers or future advertisers. If you can promote the concept of your product well enough (in this case a blog), you could be selling your product before the launch itself.

Coming Soon & Maintenance Mode

This is a great plugin if you are planning on creating a simple and professional coming soon page or maintenance mode page.

The real beauty of it is its ease of use and the user-friendliness of the layout builder. If you have some time to spare, or if you really want to customize the coming soon page, then you should go to the layout builder. With this powerful tool, you can simply drag and drop features and design boxes to the page to further customize it. It is that easy. You just drag and drop elements in and out until you are happy with the overall design. You can add in things like text, videos, a countdown clock and multiple other elements that will give you absolute control over all of your preferences. The way it accomplishes this is that it supports Elementor, Beaver Builder and, of course, Gutenberg. 

If you want to change anything with additional pictures and so on, you are free to do so. You can change the background of the entire coming soon page by adding your own images or you can choose any picture from the Unsplash depository (that is something like 100 million images for you to choose from). Heck, if you don’t like how the images are coloured or so on, you can simply add filters to the images before they are added to the background (in the ranks of Instagram filters).

READ MORE:   Always get a head start - Why should you start your blog with a coming soon page?

Now, the coming soon page and maintenance mode is not made to just be a single page site which you use for hyping a site or informing your users that the site is under maintenance. It is also a great tool that allows you to check the stats and see what’s cooking up under the hood. You can track where the hits are coming from (country, which browsers are being used when viewing your site, which devices are visiting your site and so on).

The plugin also comes with a couple of powerful SEO features that do the job very well when it comes to analyzing the SEO of your site. This can come in very handy since it removes the need to install additional plugins that deal with the optimization.

Once you have established your coming soon page, you can integrate the plugin with autoresponders like Zapier or Mailchimp. This feature is signed with convenience if you’re going to be receiving a lot of new people subscribing to your newsletter or something of the sorts, and you won’t have the time to respond to all of them. With an autoresponder, the visitor who has subscribed to your newsletter will immediately receive an email thanking them and letting them know when a new product will be coming out (or blog posts if that is what your site is about).

Early access for clients is another neat little feature that allows you to show the site being built before it gets published. This is a great feature if you are creating a site for a client who wants to be present in the process and have insights on how the project is progressing. You just give them a “Secret Access Link” with which they can access the site to see how it is coming up.

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Rebranding

The last thing that I’m going to mention is the rebranding feature of this plugin.  The newly introduced brand feature is an awesome addition to a plugin that is already packed with great tools and features. 

So, the question is: Have you ever wanted to redesign (rebrand) a plugin which you have installed on your WordPress website? Well, the main reason why you would want to do this is to add that additional touch of finesse. It is always a nice addition when you can add your preferred colours to a plugin in which you are going to be spending a lot of time on.

Before this, the plugin used white labelling which essentially removes all logos and colour schemes from the plugin. This is essential for some companies since they do not want other people’s logos and colours anywhere near their site, or even on the plugins that they are using.

There are many things that you can rebrand, like the name of the plugin, the plugin’s short name, the URL of the plugin’s site, the company name, the site of the company and you can add additional notes that are only visible in the dashboard.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, it really is much more beneficial for your site to have a coming soon page, no matter what your site is about. It creates brand awareness, it gives you insight on your future visitors, it boosts your social media accounts and it is super easy and fast to set up!

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Pay Attention to these 7 Branding Elements When Creating a Website

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Do you want a powerful website that rewards your business by attracting customers?

Then you need to make sure your website has the right branding elements.

The only way of ensuring that your website has the right branding elements, one must have a clear and concise branding sense. Don’t have a background in branding? It’s totally fine. If you’re a business entrepreneur belonging to a different professional background and you’re still eager to market your business the right way in the online world, here are some branding elements that are essential for every website.

So without further adieu, let’s learn about these important branding elements to help you out.

What Kind of Logo Design Have You Chosen? 

The first and foremost branding element that you should pay attention to, when investing your budget in creating a brand, is the logo design. A logo is basically a symbol representing who or what your business is about. It is the emblem through which people will recognize your brand. At the same time, a logo reflects the values of what you’re selling on your website. So when it comes to logo designs, don’t settle for a cheap logo design service, but instead hire a professional web design company to design the perfect logo.

Get a logo design that expresses the unique quality of what business values you have.

What Colors Are You Leveraging in Your Website? 

Another important branding element that one must address is the type of colors they will choose to adapt when they are planning to create a website. While, there are plenty of colors which they can use when it comes to website designing, but the right mix will grab the attention of the users. Once again, a color sense isn’t something that you can expect from everybody; hence, it is important that you receive insights from a visualizer first who can express which colors would go best with your product/service.

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Based on your service/product, a visualizer can express what colours will bring out the best in your service because they have spent years in studying colors and design elements to understand what may work best for you.

Hire a visualizer or usually when you hire a web design agency, they always have one on their team.

Is the Typeface of Your Website Readable Enough?

Just as much as the colors and design of your website is important, it is also important to pay attention to the typeface you will use to make your website stand out from the rest. Branding of your business also depends on the primary typeface that you are about to use in your website. The wrong typeface will result in creating readability issues which can easily navigate your target audience to alternate site options.

While, having a secondary typeface is not a bad option, make sure that the secondary one you choose appears in contrast with your primary typeface. Only then your website will stand a class-apart from the rest. Focus on the main fonts, (primary typeface) and make sure it equally compliments your brand values

If you won’t then there’s a high chance that people will not consider going through your website.

What Kind of Images Are You Planning to Put on Your Website? 

Next, you need to address what sort of images you are planning to put on your website. There are several approaches you can take; for instance, you can use photography (everyday shots) or you can use a custom image; you can use a sprawling background-scenery to consume the overall space, or you can simply go for a packaged thumbnail view, it’s all up to you!

READ MORE:   Pay Attention to these 7 Branding Elements When Creating a Website

Whatever images you think will work wonders for your website, go for it. Employ the best photographs and images that speak the same language that your customers understand. When choosing images for branding purposes, make sure they do complement your brand or if they are non-relative, then there’s a high chance people choose to walk away.

The right photos will leave quite the impact on your viewers so make sure you cherry-pick them.

What Kind of Graphic Elements are Used in Your Website? 

When designing a website, another factor that one must focus on is introducing the right graphic elements throughout their digital website. These elements should be strategically placed within your site and should reflect the best views. You can choose things like apertures, patterns, and other stylistic images which can add the perfect flair to your website design. Do you know that many website brands end up producing an entire library of elements which are greatly used for internal and external purposes?

The right graphic elements will ensure your website adds the perfect brand value to your digital business.

Use a Single Voiceover All Across Your Website

Now here’s a common mistake from the branding perspective that many website owners commonly make. They use multiple voiceover artists to create separate audio/video content to put up on their site. This is not a good practice because it sends quite the wrong impression on the people who are visiting. Instead of choosing multiple voiceover artists, it is best that you employ a single one who is capable of representing your brand in the best possible manner. If you’re able to do that, then you’re well on your way.

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So there you go, here are the 6 important branding elements that I believe every website owner should consider when creating a website for his/her digital business.

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