Top Reasons Why Your Joomla Website Got Hacked

No matter how big or small your website may be, no matter what type of advanced security it utilizes, whether it is a small private blog or a big e-commerce website, any possible website on the Internet may be vulnerable or a target for hackers. These hackers are always on the lookout for vulnerable websites and easy prey in order to steal private information, hijack a website or simply vandalize it.

Joomla as well as WordPress and Drupal are some of the most popular and well-respected content management systems available on the Internet. Joomla is particularly unique because it has some very popular and powerful distinct features that the other content management systems cannot provide. And although Joomla contains tons of great features, attributes and tools, there are many security concerns for Joomla websites.

In this article we will be looking at some of the most common reasons as to why your Joomla! website got hacked and also will be mentioning some tips and tricks on how to better protect your precious website and your invaluable personal information.

Most Common Reasons Why Your Joomla! website got hacked

1. Phishing

Phishing is a common hacking method which includes either an email or a website that is designed to steal your website login credentials. Hackers disguise and cloak the website or the email to look exactly like the platform you would want to login on, and if you’re not careful they will steal your login credentials.

Most commonly they will dupe you and make you think that a Joomla! administrator is asking you to urgently log into your account. This is why you should always double check the domain or the email sender before you login anywhere or provide personal information or credit card information.

2. Weak website security

There are many different security systems available for use on the Internet, some are weak and provide only the basics in website security, but there are also other advanced and more expensive website security options that provide you with tons of tools and options for you to protect your website with.

However, even the largest companies and websites struggle to completely avoid and prevent attacks from hackers despite spending tons of money on their website security. It is always a good idea to equip yourself and your website with at least some website security software in order to prevent some of the most common hacking attempts on your website.

3. The security of your computer

Another common way of getting your website hacked is by having your own personal computer hacked into. You should take the security of your personal computer very seriously because hackers can steal all of the cookies and saved information for your websites as well as all of the login credentials that you may have stored on your computer.

Your computer might be hacked through viruses, malware or simply through compromised websites or any type of software application that has been infected by the hacker. These hackers use automated bots the scan the Internet for IP addresses that have weak personal computer security and are vulnerable to hacking attacks.

This is why you should always use a premium antivirus software application as well as an adware and malware blocker software. It is a common rule of thumb to perform full hard disk scans on your personal computer at least once a week.

4. Vulnerable add-ons and applications

If you use Joomla, you will also most probably integrate many different themes, widgets, plug-ins and other useful tools that can help you increase the functionality of your website. And all of these tools are very useful and powerful, however they can be compromised and used to hack into your website. Especially tools like plug-ins and widgets which are a very important factor when it comes to website design and website content are specifically targeted by hackers for vulnerabilities.

One thing that you can do to protect yourself and your website is to make sure that all of the plug-ins, widgets and tools that you incorporate into your website are updated on a regular basis. Some plug-in and widget authors give up on their tools and stop updating them, and this is when they become vulnerable to attacks from hackers. Outdated scripts can also be used to hack into your website, so you should delete all outdated scripts on your website.

You should also note that a common hacking method is to attack the hosting server itself. The users that host their websites and their content on the shared servers are particularly vulnerable to this type of attacks. If someone else on that shared server gets hacked, all of the website owners on that particular hosting server are in jeopardy.

This is why it is wise to make sure that your web hosting provider utilizes the best and the most powerful website security software available on the market. Another great tip is to always make sure to create daily or weekly backups of your website so you can restore it to the previous uncompromised version in case your website gets hacked.

How do I Know if my Joomla! Website is Hacked?

Some hackers can be very inconspicuous about the attacks, making it possible for your website to be already hacked but you just don’t know it yet. These types of attacks slowly hijack your website and they fill it with referral links and advertisements that you did not approve of. And sometimes it can be quite tricky to find out that your website is hacked or not.

Sometimes you will get a message directly from your web hosting provider that your website has been hacked into. But most of the times finding out whether your website is hacked or not won’t be that simple or easy. You have to be on the lookout for one of the many red flags that might indicate that your website is compromised or hacked.

One of these red flags is getting your website or the pages from your website delisted from the search results of Google search or any of the other search engines. Another important thing to be on the lookout for is having your website breaking or showing some errors that it hasn’t shown before. This is often a strong indication that your website might be hacked.

You should also analyze your website thoroughly by using some of the many analytics tools that are available at your disposal. You should analyze your traffic carefully to see if some or any of your traffic is being rerouted to unknown pages and third-party websites. You should also check whether you can find any possible inconsistencies in your website’s analytics that might refer to websites that you have no contact with.

Certain hackers will initiate unauthorized and unwanted downloads to your computer or browser when your website is hacked. So whenever one of your pages tries to initiate a download that you know nothing about, that is a very strong indication that your website might be hacked. Additional red flags include having administrators on your website that you do not recognize as well as having broken images appear on your website, so be on the lookout for them.

How to Protect Your Joomla Website?

The most important method to keeping your website and content safe is by having the version of your Joomla! content management system fully up to date. The developers of Joomla! constantly publish and release updates for the framework in which they fixed bugs and patch security vulnerabilities that hackers might try to exploit in order to hack your website. It might be a bit time-consuming to keep everything up to date if you’re using a large number of different third-party plug-ins, widgets and other tools, but it is crucial for keeping your website and your personal information safe and sound.

One little trick that is important for website security and protection when it comes to Joomla! based websites is to not give write permissions to each and every one of your PHP files in your website database. Keeping these files read-only will prevent hackers from easily and quickly hacking and exploiting your website.

Being careful on how you delegate permissions on the daily activities of your website is also quite important. It might seem very basic and simple but it is very important for the security and well-being of your website to not give permissions of execution on your public directories on the website. This will stop hackers from uploading and executing malicious software, malware, scripts and viruses on your website.

You have to keep in mind that hackers will try to use every possible trick in the book in order to retrieve your personal information and login credentials in order to hack and exploit your website. One of the tricks they use in order to achieve this is by retrieving data from the user’s table of the website. You can prevent this from happening by changing the prefix of your users’ table database to any random prefix.

Not only that you should keep all of your extensions and third-party widgets, tools and plug-ins up to date, but you should also not forget to remove, uninstall and delete all outdated software as well as old extensions and any possible leftover files from old installations. This is a simple trick but many people forget to do this and have their websites hacked into.

It’s a very important thing to note that not compromising on your website hosting security can end up saving you a ton of money in the long run. Having your website hacked can very easily lead to identity theft as well as credit card theft. This is why it is important to make sure that your web hosting package includes advanced website security tools and methods to protect your website from hackers even if it means paying a few more dollars for it.

Modern hacking methods change and evolve constantly, so it is very important to choose a web hosting provider that updates and improves their website security tools and methods constantly. Making sure that your web hosting provider uses only the newest and groundbreaking technology when it comes to programming languages and antivirus databases is very important.

However, the absolute most important thing that you have to realize in order to protect your websites from hacking is that you are not immune to it. Unfortunately, many people, especially the ones that are only starting up with their website project, irrationally think that they are not important to hackers.

Hackers will try to exploit, hack and hijack even the smallest of websites. This is because they use these hacked websites in order to reroute traffic, improve the Google search rankings of their websites by putting back links on your website and use your server in order to send spam email.

This makes everyone a possible target. Never think that you are not important enough to get hacked, and never think that you are immune and invulnerable to hacking attempts. You should always keep in mind that preventing hackers is always better than curing hacked websites. Many people all around the world face a nightmarish battle when their personal information and credit card information gets stolen by hackers on their website.

Conclusion

Every single website owner should be informed and educated on the topic of protecting and securing their website and their personal computer from hacking attempts. This is particularly important for Joomla! website owners because these open source content management systems are found to be quite vulnerable to these attacks.

This article was written to try and inform you on the most common methods and ways with which hackers might try to exploit and hijack your website and your personal information. We also researched and analyzed many different methods on how to protect yourself and your Joomla! website from such hacking attempts.

The reality of the situation is that you might never be fully secure and immune to hackers, phishers and scammers. However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try and do everything in your power to try and prevent your Joomla! website from being hacked.

To summarize, keep your third-party applications, plug-ins, widgets and extensions fully updated as well as have your Joomla! version fully up to date and make sure that your web hosting provider not only gives you access to the best and most advanced antivirus software available on the market but also updates its security methods constantly and regularly. We are confident that if you follow these steps, tips and tricks that we provided for you in this article, your Joomla! website will be much more secure than before.

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David Cross

David is the chief editor at WebHostingMedia right from the beginning. He has a great passion for building and managing websites and creating helpful content. He is also interested in programming - currently learning python.