“Google has detected that your site has been hacked by a third party who created malicious content on some of your pages.”
This was the message I received around Thanksgiving that sent me into a tailspin.
Hacked? Malicious? What the heck?
Turns out, my business website had been hacked. Some Sneaky Pete had hidden code advertising “cheap” drugs (like Viagra and Cialis) from foreign countries on my pages — without my knowledge or approval.
He(?) was clever, too, using a back-door approach through a file I thought I’d removed from the server.
Thank goodness, Google was more vigilant than I, warned me of the dastardly deed, and added a notice in search results cautioning folks that my site wasn’t reliable.
(That doesn’t sound like something to be thankful for, does it? I mean, telling strangers NOT to trust me with their web design needs because I failed to protect my own site from criminals?!)
But, yeah, if we don’t know there’s a problem, we can’t fix it, can we?
Google graciously gave me plenty of suggestions on how to do just that (yes, they ALL involved coding), and those suggestions, plus a bit of common sense, time, and help from my hosting company put me on the right path.
I changed a bit of this, re-coded a bit of that, removed some files entirely. Practically redesigned my entire site. Changed ALL the passwords, checked and re-checked everything, and submitted a reconsideration request so Google will “serve me up” when people search for web design firms.
A few days after my request for reconsideration, I was notified that what I’d done worked — yahoo!! (Or rather, whoo-hoo!)
So, let this be a warning to you — hackers are out there, lurking who-knows-where, and they’re becoming more crafty about adding spam, pornography, ads, etc. to legitimate websites. And stuff like that can absolutely mar the reputation you’ve worked so hard to achieve.
P.S. WordPress dot com has safeguards in place so you probably don’t have to worry about stuff like this. Not like when you have a website you’ve designed yourself. Still, it doesn’t hurt to be vigilant!