What to do if your blog is hacked | #ebizradio | #technology | Lutz Blaeser


The surge in the popularity of blogging has come hand-in-hand with a surge in cyber crime targeting the platform. For bloggers, recovering from a hack can be an onerous task, and the effects of a successful breach can be felt for months to come.

blog hacked

However, Lutz Blaeser, MD of Intact Security, a local Bitdefender distributor, says the quicker the issues are identified and solved, the less damage your blog will suffer. “In the event of a potential hack, there are several steps you can take to minimise the fallout. Firstly, render your domain inaccessible to genuine, human users, as well as spambots and crawlers. The Web site files will be needed for thorough analysis down the line, so do not delete them if possible.”

Instead, Blaeser says traffic can be blocked by renaming the index.php file, and creating a blank one in its place. He issues a caveat: “Don’t forget to create this dummy page, because failure to do so could expose other files in the FTP account to risk. In addition, remember that blocking any search engines will stop them from identifying your blog as being infected and blacklisting it as malicious.”

 Lutz Blaeser, MD Intact Security

Lutz Blaeser, MD Intact Security

Next, he advises to make a full backup of the home folder using a FTP client, and then manually exporting the database as a SQL file. “Following this, pull off the access logs from the Web server, and make sure they are stored in a secure location. These logs will also be used to uncover exactly what the hackers have affected or compromised on the blog. Similarly, copy any customised files you may have, including uploaded files, plugins and themes – stuff that you cannot find or download again, that is necessary for a clean start.”

The next step is to comb through the database table by table to identify any sign of suspicious linking. Scrutinise the tables holding the administrators, the configuration settings and the blog post articles. Any administrator you come across that is unknown to you should be deleted immediately.

Once cleaning and inspection is finished, remove any files from the Web server. Should the database be affected in any way, drop it and restore the copy that you have throughly checked, and know is clean. “Now you can begin to upload your blog script on the server. Ensure you have dowloaded it from the official repository, and whatever you do, you must download the latest version of the blog script. The config file should be modified to match your Web server’s details.”

Double check that you don’t set file and folder permissions higher than is essential for the script to run properly. “Setting files and folders to CHMOD 777 could enable a hacker to write to them, and reinject any malware. Also, change the blog’s admin passwords as well as the FTP ones.”

The final step, says Blaeser, is to push the modified files back to the correct location via FTP. “Flush the browser’s cache and access your Web site. In addition, look up your blog on Google or similar using your blog’s title or your name in the search box, and then follow the result that the engine provides. The majority of the time, blog malware checks the referrer to see if the visitor accessed the site via a search engine or directly through the URL, and will only manifest itself to referred visitors.”

Finally, he says common sense plays a role. “Lower your risk of being hacked by following some basic steps. Don’t use blog scripts that come from untrusted, unofficial download sites. These are risky. Also, keep your FTP account clean, and don’t mix up the account hosting your blog with other scripts you test, because small vulnerabilities in third-part scripts can see your blog being hacked. Don’t add any unnecessary themes or plugins, use only what you really need to lower your chances of installing an exploitable theme or plugin.”

As with everything, use the strongest possible passwords for your FTP accounts and admins. Don’t disclose them to anyone. “Finally, have a good anti malware, such as Bitdefender’s product to ensure your systems are free of Trojans and other nasties.”
Intact Software Distribution is a dedicated software distributor focusing on providing a full range of security software solutions, coupled with the service performance and know-how of an experienced and specialised solution provider – http://intactsoftwaredistribution.co.za/


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