Answering the question, “Why would anyone hack my website?” is like asking “Why would anyone break into my small business or office?”
It’s frustrating, but it happens.
I Speak from Experience!
Years ago, I was a partner in a business that leased a small warehouse. Part of this space was used for office, so naturally we had a few computers on site. We were a small startup, struggling to make ends meet servicing a growing customer base.
There were dozens of other established, successful businesses around us with a lot more equipment than we had. Nevertheless, one night some thieves broke in and stole some our essential computer equipment. They could have made a lot more money somewhere else, but for some unfortunate reason they chose us.
Yes, we had good locks on the doors, a loud siren that sounded when they smashed the glass, and a monitoring company that was alerted immediately. However, it only takes a few minutes for someone to break in and get away with a car load of valuables.
While this incident was very frustrating, unnerving, and costly for us, it was not the end of the world. We quickly repaired the damage and our insurance company covered the cost of replacing the equipment (which was actually an upgrade for us!).
Knowing that thieves often strike again, we beefed up our security.
Whether or not that was the solution, we were never hit again. In the end, we learned a valuable business lesson:
Security often works in the background, but you’re glad you have it when you need it.
These days, with more and more business taking place on the Internet, securing your online place of business is no less critical than securing your bricks and mortar office or storefront.
Like most WordPress website designers/developers, I am keenly interested in the security of every website I work on. Even the smallest website deserves to be protected.
Your website might see very little traffic, have no e-commerce functionality, or exist solely to inform a niche local market. But if it was important enough to create and establish your business on the web, it is vital that you keep it secure.
So Why Would Anyone Hack My Website?
It’s not personal; it’s business.
When it comes to the dark art of website hacking, the first thing to remember is that the vast majority of website attacks are not personal.
Unless you own a huge company and have masses of credit card numbers in your database, or you have some trade secrets stored on your server, the attacks targeted at your website are usually automated, mass attacks.
So why, you ask, if my website has no critical, secret information on it, would a hacker try to break in? There are various reasons, but here are a few:
Looking for private information
One motive for hacking websites is to gain access to private or sensitive information accessible only by Administrators. Even though you may not have any sensitive information (or you think you don’t), hackers don’t know that until they break in. Car thieves often assume there are valuables locked in a vehicle, even if there are none; so they smash your window to find out.
Some hackers look for opportunities to install malware to perform malicious attacks on visitors to your website. There is a lot of money to be made in this black market, especially if they gain access to your visitors’ sensitive information found in their browsers or computers.
Email List Building
Sometimes hackers steal email addresses from your website to add to spam lists. These lists might be for their own purposes, but usually they are sold. If you have an email address, you probably have some experience with a stolen and abused address.
Aggressive hackers might be attempting to deliberately slow down (or disable) a specific server, website, or hosting provider. In this case, their motives vary. The hackers could be disgruntled users seeking revenge. They might be protesting something (“hacktivism”) or even attempting to extort money from a company. In many cases, hackers are simply testing or flexing their programming prowess.
No Security System is Perfect
While there are many threats to websites (especially to WordPress due to its popularity), there are also some very effective security measures any small business can take to help prevent serious attacks.
For your storefront security, you could research and install security equipment yourself, assuming you are handy that way. You could install your own cameras and then monitor the system yourself.
Or you could hire a security company to install a system and have them manage a 24/7 monitoring service.
When it comes to your small business WordPress website, you have similar options. You can research and install security software and look after updates and hacking attempts yourself.
Or you could hire a WordPress maintenance specialist to install security software and 24/7 monitoring services. For example, a professional WordPress maintenance plan will look after all of this as well as provide performance boosts. You also get personal service when you need someone to help with a technical or creative issue that is beyond your abilities.
If you prefer to look after your own website maintenance, consider subscribing to my weekly newsletter, Maintenance Monday, for tips, inspiration, and special offers. You will also get my free ebook to help get started.
Either way, be sure to provide your WordPress website with the same attention you would give to your physical storefront or office. Your online business is a valuable asset worth protecting!
What do you do to secure your WordPress website? Please comment below.