The need for WordPress redirects often arises, especially if you’ve made changes to your permalink or modified your website. This helps you to ensure that your visitors don’t face issues while accessing your site. This also ensures that your hard-earned SEO rankings are left intact for which you may have taken help from an SEO specialized company.
However, not all WordPress redirects are desirable or expected. The WordPress redirection hack has troubled many WordPress site owners by making their site inaccessible and/or redirecting it to other harmful sites. This negatively affects your SEO ranking, affects your website traffic and original conversion, and hits revenue generation. Therefore, it’s important to keep your eyes open for suspicious signs indicating such a hack and quickly take steps for solving it.
What are the different types of WordPress redirection hacks?
Hackers utilize different tools and methods to attack your WordPress sites. Here are some of the scenarios that we’ve seen so far:
Through normal redirection
This WordPress redirect hack is one of the oldest and most standard versions available. When a visitor tries to access your site, they’re automatically sent to other sites that feature questionable products, malware, or phishing links. Such redirection hacks are easier to detect but may often involve complicated issues beyond the surface that require careful removal.
Through push notifications
We may have seen certain sites relentlessly push browser notifications to their site visitors and been mildly irritated. Such notifications mostly propagate pornography and other sexual content. Hackers use this method to distract viewers and trick them into clicking suspicious links or installing downloads.
Through search engine results
This technique is one of the more common tactics for employing WordPress redirection hacks. In itself, the website seems to display no visible issues when accessed directly via its URL. However, once you search for your site on search engines like Google, you’re met with completely unrelated and potentially dangerous links. WordPress site owners have often reported the delay in detecting such issues because of the well-hidden symptoms until their customers come up with complaints of phishing.
Through geography-specific redirect methods
A bit more uncommon, geography-based redirection hacks only target certain users. In such scenarios, hackers use geography as a parameter to focus malware redirection attacks on the site’s visitors. Either the malware is specifically constructed with geography as a key variable or it’s exclusively made for certain regions.
Through certain devices
Hackers also target specific devices through the WordPress redirection hack. Customers complain of being sent to other sites or shown malicious links either through their mobiles or computers. This also depends on the kind of malware present in such a situation and the modifications made in order to focus on certain devices.
Through error pages
Sometimes, when the user attempts to access a site, they’re faced with a classic error screen such as ‘Error 404’. Since it’s a normal sight in the website heatmap, most WordPress site owners or visitors may not think much of it. It’s often used by site owners as well to ensure that visitors aren’t shown missing pages or broken links.
However, hackers may modify the malware to present such screens while using the site as a front for their malicious activities. Therefore, it’s important to verify the appearance of error screens and the legitimacy of their reasons.
Common Signs of the WordPress Redirection Hack
Once you’re suspicious that your site has been compromised by the WordPress redirection hack, the next logical step is to add proof to the claim. Let’s look into some common signs that may appear in this context:
- Unrelated and suspicious push notifications on the site;
- Hackers also use ‘bit.ly’ links in their shortened forms with the actual malware included – more often than not, security scanners will not detect these suspicious URLs that cause redirection;
- Google search results for your website bring up links to counterfeit products, illegal medication, etc;
- Other unidentified files on the server which don’t seem to serve any purpose of the site.
WordPress sites have always been particularly vulnerable to hacking attempts. This is partly due to the popularity of the platform and partly because of the vulnerabilities discovered frequently. The WordPress redirection hack doesn’t require many resources from the hackers. They can exploit vulnerable plugins, launch SQL injection or XSS attacks where there’s a lack of data validation, or even insert malicious code into unprotected core files and folders.
If your WordPress has fallen victim to such a hacking attempt, removal also takes its own dedication and effort. Manual cleanups involve combing through each and every code, provided you’ve enough technical expertise. Most security plugins don’t cover such in-depth malware removal procedures. When left in a particularly sticky situation, you can depend on security solutions or website maintenance services provided by third-party service providers.