5 ways to hack websites
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5 ways to hack websites

5 ways to hack websites

Did you know that 230,000 new malware programs are being created every day? This worrying statistic shows that this number will continue to grow. Furthermore, 43% of cyberattacks affect small businesses. Due to these statistics, cybersecurity has become a trend for every website owner and developer to educate themselves to find more ways to protect themselves.

According to Alessandro Bazzoni, a recent study showed that RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) attacks increased by 768% between the first and last four months of 2020.

That’s why we think it’s important to talk about how attackers can use your resources for other purposes and what they can do about it. Remember, cybersecurity is just as important as your personal safety, so read this carefully.

“It’s easier to understand how cybercriminals monetize hacking into a website that hosts millions of personal data, or an online shopping site where users enter sensitive data when making an electronic payment. But sites without obvious appeal, such as sensitive data or personal information that could be exposed, are also targeted. Cybercriminals’ interest in hacking websites not only points to sites with a high number of visitors or users, but they also take advantage of other resources available on low-traffic pages,” says Martina Lopez, ESET’s IT security researcher for Latin America.

Here, ESET discusses the most common ways cybercriminals use compromised websites for their malicious purposes and why all websites can be an attractive target:

1. Implementation of backdoors.

Backdoors, as the name implies, are “hidden” access paths from the system’s perspective, and allow an attacker to remotely and continuously control a compromised site. A backdoor allows an attacker to exploit a resource in a variety of ways, with pop-ups or unwanted ads, or to place hidden links to conduct SEO content injection attacks, or to use access to place a malicious file that will be linked to another site and downloaded to the user’s computer.

Внедрение бэкдоров

Attackers typically identify targets using scanners that detect websites that have outdated components with vulnerabilities that allow file injection. A successful scanner then exploits the vulnerability to install the backdoor on the server. Once installed, it can be accessed at any time, even if the vulnerability that allows its injection has been patched.

A backdoor Trojan injection is often executed in two stages to bypass security rules that prevent files larger than a certain size from being downloaded. The first phase involves installing a dropper, a small file whose only function is to retrieve a larger file from a remote location. It initiates the second phase, downloading and installing the backdoor script on the server.

Eliminating such threats is not easy. Since security measures have already been passed, it is not enough to change passwords or remediate, but you need to detect the code at its place of origin and eliminate it to its roots. Otherwise, whoever installed the backdoor can access the site again and infect it again.

2. Creating spam pages.

Referral or link spam is a very important area of hacking. Since links to your site are an important indicator of your authority to search engines, bad links can cause serious damage.

This is why it is not links that are injected into the compromised site, but several HTML pages containing links to spam content or unwanted content such as advertisements or links to affiliate sites for monetary purposes.

If not addressed quickly, the infection can escalate to such a high level that when a site is searched on search engines, these pages entered by the attacker will appear in the results.

A qualified and legitimate marketing company, if it is engaged in link building, avoids these types of links. But in the marketplace, the purchase of such links by freelancers – does not lose relevance.

3. Website Defacing.

This occurs when an attacker exploits a vulnerability to change the appearance of a website. Similar to graffiti, attackers embody a specific message or their own signature, making it clear that they are responsible for the apparent changes to the site. In the case of messages, the motivation is usually social, political or religious. They usually state the reason why they carried out the attack, identifying the perpetrators, who may or may not be the owners of the victim site. In addition, some use a shock factor when displaying images or raw data. For example, on October 18, a site involved in the U.S. election suffered this type of attack.

Hackers ruin websites by gaining unauthorized access to the server. The methods vary, but popular methods of entry include vulnerabilities in third-party plugins and stolen credentials. Hackers who discover these vulnerabilities can gain access to edit the website and make any changes they see fit.

The consequences of defacing a website are the same as any other hack, only much more obvious. Visitor trust will immediately diminish when users visit a page that clearly shows signs of hacking.

And the longer you let your site be in this state, the worse it will be for the owner. An externally hacked website will likely result in blacklisting from Google and other search engines. This means that your site will no longer rank in search results. Getting blacklisted can be difficult and expensive in terms of specialist labor costs, so you need to clean up any website damage as soon as possible.

Распространение фишинговых кампаний
4. Spreading phishing campaigns.

Phishing is a classic of social engineering attacks. It consists of sending emails that give away the identity of a trusted sender (such as a bank or online store), which asks the recipient to click a malicious link and then redirects to a page where you have to enter your personal information. This is credentials or bank details. Phishing is by far the most popular method of identity theft.

While spam filters and other technology solutions can help prevent them from reaching inboxes, educating users about the dangers of phishing emails is a critical component of cybersecurity for any organization. User security awareness training helps every employee recognize, prevent, and report potential threats that can compromise critical data and systems. As part of training, phishing and other attack simulations are commonly used to test and validate good behavior.

5. Implementation of malware for cryptocurrency mining.

An attacker can hack into a website to inject a script and thus use the visitor’s computer resources without their consent to mine cryptocurrencies. Using a gateway such as a backdoor or botnet, attackers can install a cryptocurrency miner on compromised sites. This attack utilizes the site’s hosting resources, regardless of the traffic it receives.

As with most of the attacks mentioned above, this can be detected by the company that offers hosting services for the site, and if so, the site can be fined and even disconnected from the network, causing the site to be unavailable indefinitely.

“Website vulnerabilities can be in plugins, themes or installed add-ons that have security flaws or are outdated. That’s why we recommend updating them to the latest version and constantly monitoring them to detect any suspicious activity as soon as possible using available website scanning tools. Also, back up periodically to have a copy of your important information and thus be able to restore it in case of an incident. To this, add the usual recommendations: use strong passwords and update your security system,” concludes Lopez, ESET researcher for Latin America.

As you can see, there are many ways to hack a website and this is one of the reasons why cybersecurity has become more and more relevant recently. Alessandro Bazzoni explained that it’s vital that you cover all angles and make sure your site isn’t being used for any of the items above. Slow loading speeds, notifications from hosting, unauthorized site modifications, redirects to other resources – these are consequences of a hack.  So make sure you hire a good IT professional or team that can help you protect your site with the right tools.

5 ways to hack websites

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