Malware in WordPress: What It Is and How It Affects Your Site

24 October 2022

Malware in WordPress: What It Is and How It Affects Your Site

Malware is an umbrella term for malicious software that exploits a website’s flaws to carry out various harmful activities. Malware in WordPress can affect a website’s performance on all levels, from the web server to the user experience, and even the site’s SEO performance. So, if you are not paying attention to what is going on with your website right now, it may be too late to save it by the time you do.

As a result, monitoring your website’s performance and identifying changes as they occur is the first step toward creating a secure WordPress site.

According to our observations, the following are the consequences of a malware attack on your website:

1. Excessive use of server resources

When your server is hacked or compromised, it means that someone else (in this case, a hacker) is taking advantage of your server’s resources in some way. They could be using it to commit a variety of crimes, including:

Attempting to compromise other websites

Attacking websites with a single machine is dangerous because it is easily detected and blacklisted. However, detecting a large number of machines is difficult, which is why hackers are always looking for new hosts. Hackers have even been known to use popular websites to attack targeted sites in order to avoid raising alarm.

The vast majority of malware attacks go undetected because their goal is to consume your server resources without drawing your attention to them. However, you can tell if your website is being hacked by noticing if its performance is sluggish. You will notice that your website has suddenly slowed down.

Perhaps you’ll notice that your web server is unavailable to site visitors because the majority of your server is being used to perform unwanted activities. We’ve discovered that hacking has a variety of other effects on the performance of your website. We recommend keeping an eye out for any sudden changes to your website and acting quickly.

Spam email distribution

Spam in the email is unavoidable. Every day, millions of spam reports are sent, accounting for 59.56% of internet traffic (as of September 2017).

For a variety of reasons, hackers use compromised websites to send hundreds of thousands of spam emails. To deal with spam, email servers all over the world employ a variety of techniques. They track the IP addresses of spam email servers and blacklist them. As a result, hackers are constantly on the lookout for IP addresses with a clean record, which means they are not blocked by popular email providers.

We’ve seen cases where the owners of a website are completely unaware of what’s going on until the host notices something fishy and alerts them to it. It may be too late by this point, and domains have already been blacklisted by spam watchdog services such as Spamhaus.

If your website is hacked and thousands of spam emails are sent from it, your web host may suspend your account until you clean it up and remove all malware, which is one of the worst things that can happen to any website.

Large amounts of disk space are used.

When hackers gain access to your website, they may have several goals in mind. Some hackers may have compromised your website in order to store millions of files. These files consume a significant amount of disk space. The weight of those unknown files slows down your website.

For those who are unaware, unlimited hosting plans do have a cap. This can result in you being unable to add any content. Furthermore, with so many unwanted files littering the site, maintaining it will become difficult. In addition, due to malicious activity on your site, your web server may suspend or ban your account.

Slows down site

When your visitors request a page from your site, hackers may retrieve files from other servers and load them alongside your page. Because the entire process takes time, this can have a negative impact on the performance of your website.

2. A decline in user experience/browser performance

Malware in WordPress can have an impact on how visitors perceive your website. The user experience of a website is critical to its success (or business). If your users are dissatisfied with the performance of your website, they may not return (or use your service – if you are offering one).

Websites become sluggish.

According to studies, the average human attention span has shrunk from twelve seconds in 2000 to eight seconds in this digital era. As a result, slow websites are detrimental to business.

We already discussed how excessive use of server resources slows down your site. If your website takes too long to load, visitors will most likely leave after a few seconds. You will lose visitors before you gain any. It can also have a negative impact on online businesses such as e-commerce sites. Due to a single second’s delay, Amazon, the world’s largest retailer site, could lose up to $1.6 billion in sales. During a thirty-minute downtime in 2013, the giant retailer lost $66,240 per minute.

External Javascript/iFrame resources should be loaded.

You may have come across websites with suspicious pop-ups, usually at the top of the page, asking you to visit another site or make a purchase, and so on.

It’s a little perplexing because the pop-up appears to be unrelated to the topic of the site. The truth is that someone hacked into that website and inserted malicious Javascript/iFrame. As a result, every time someone attempts to open the page, the malware is loaded as well, increasing the time it takes to fully render a page. This slows down the site. Furthermore, site visitors are being duped into making purchases and engaging in other undesirable activities while relying on the site’s credibility.

Cryptocurrency mining

You’ve probably heard of Bitcoin, the most well-known cryptocurrency. It is created through a process known as mining. Cryptocurrencies have quietly grown in popularity in recent years, with an increasing number of people buying and selling them.

Bitcoin is popular among hackers who want to get rich quickly because its price has skyrocketed.

Websites are infected with malware, and cryptocurrency miners are installed. They mine cryptocurrency using your visitors’ browsers every time they visit your site. Your website may be one of these doomed sites. If you notice a sudden drop in the performance of your website, it’s possible that hackers are using the processing power of your machine to mine cryptocurrency.

3. Decreased SEO performance SEO is one of the most common reasons for website hacking.

Google has clearly identified SEO as a motivating factor in hacking, causing your visitor to be redirected to a malicious site.

Spamming SEO (commonly, the pharma hack)

Pharma hacking is a common occurrence. There are restrictions on advertising illegal drugs such as Viagra, Cialis, and others on the internet. As a result, pharmaceutical sales websites resort to SEO spamming to get people to visit or buy from their sites. They frequently hide spammy keywords in posts and pages from regular visitors.

SEO spam is only visible to web crawlers such as Googlebot. Aside from that, there are a few WordPress security services, such as MalCare (which I founded), that can detect pharma hacks even in their hidden form.

It is well known that changing a site’s SEO structure will have a significant impact on your website. You will lose some of your visitors, as well as your reputation and credibility. Your website will also suffer a drop in ranking, as well as a significant decrease in site speed.

Blacklisting on Google

Google is the most popular search engine on the internet, and it strives to provide its users with the best possible user experience. Every day, the search engine giant blacklists thousands of websites. Many of these websites are genuine businesses (like yours). Your website may appear to be following Google guidelines, but you are suddenly blacklisted.

The blacklisting is frequently the result of malicious code being injected into the website without your knowledge. Your visitors will be unable to access your WordPress site once it has been blacklisted. In order to protect users’ machines from infection, Google will prevent them from visiting a compromised site.

Your website will be inaccessible for several days as a result of being blacklisted by Google. It will have a negative impact on your SEO and cause you to lose search ranking, resulting in a drop in organic traffic. Unfortunately, it will also harm the reputation you have worked so hard to establish.

If you need any help or advice for your own digital strategy, simply get in touch! You can also follow Viva Digital on Facebook to receive regular news, tips and how-tos in your feed. Thanks for reading.

Paul Smith

Paul Smith

With more than 20 years of industry experience in the UK, USA and Australia under his belt, Paul Smith is a seasoned professional who will infuse your digital marketing with his wealth of knowledge and expertise. Paul specialises in digital strategy, SEO and data analytics.

Dangerous hacker wearing a hoodie while planting a malware from computer with multiple screens.