Unfortunately, many times site owners do not prepare for their site to be hacked. If you’re using an open source CMS, chances are your site will end up getting hacked at some point, no matter how many preventative steps you take. Here are some tips on what to do to prepare for that eventuality and what to do when it does happen.
1. Have a plan.
By simply reading this article, you are one step ahead of everyone. You have admitted that your site is likely to be hacked at some point. Next, you must prepare a written plan. To get started, use the tips in this very article.
2. Make a backup of your database.
If the damage the hacker does is extensive enough, a recent backup means all you have to do is restore that backup. Done and done.
Now, how often you back up depends largely on how often your site is updated. The more often you update, the more often you should back up. And remember, visitors who comment on posts or participate in a forum count as the site being updated. So if there is a high level of community engagement on your site, you should do a daily backup.
3. Change your administrator passwords.
Once the site is actually hacked, the first thing you need to do is change your password and the passwords of any other administrators. Change your password to some random password. Then email everyone and tell them to contact you to set a new password.
4. Ask someone to help you search for pirated content.
If you’re lucky, very little will be changed on your site. In cases like that, it’s sometimes easier to scan for site corruption rather than restore from backup. If that’s the situation you find yourself in, remember to have someone else help you review the site. Two pairs of eyes are always better than one.
5. Review your plan.
So you got hacked and now you fixed everything. While it’s fresh in your mind, review your written action plan for the hacked site and adjust it accordingly.
Naturally, there will often be additional steps you can take that are specific to the CMS you’re using. So read up on this and see what they specifically recommend.