What is Website Defacement? How to Prevent it?
Online crime can happen to a website unexpectedly. One of them, the website suddenly changed its appearance. If that happens to your website, it means that you have fallen victim to a Website Defacement.
A Website Defacement usually has security holes. Hackers take advantage of these loopholes to commit crimes.
There’s no need to panic. This problem can be solved!
In this article, we will discuss what Website Defacement is, why it happens, and how to fix it. Come on, see more.
What is Website Defacement?
Website Defacement is the act of hackers who enter a website and change its appearance. These changes can cover all pages or only in certain sections. For example, changing website fonts, annoying advertisements, and changing the overall page content.
Not only that, Website Defacement is often done for initial testing of website security. Hackers can take further actions such as data theft, and so on
The consequences of defacing a website are quite serious. Especially if the website is used for business purposes. Your credibility is really at stake. Annoying, right?
One example of a website that has been a victim of Website Defacement is nhs.co.uk, a website about health. On one of the pages, deface the website, as shown below:
Website Defacement mostly occurs because of a security hole on a website. Hackers can enter access from various doors. We will explain more on Why Do Websites Get Defaced?
What is the Purpose of the Hackers Website Defacement?
However, what is the real purpose of hackers to Website Defacement? Come on, see the reasons below:
1. Identify Security Weaknesses
A Website Defacement often used to demonstrate weak website security. The proof, hackers can easily enter and change the appearance of the website. Even so, not infrequently, this action is taken to let the website owner know which part of the security needs to be fixed.
2. Conducting Religious and Political Propaganda
Have you ever heard of Hacktivists? This group often defects websites for political propaganda purposes. Usually, this is done by posting a provocative message on the victim’s website.
3. Selling Products
Hackers also often use website defacement for personal gain, namely selling products. They replace your homepage with their online shop. Usually, complete with a link that leads to the hacker’s website. So, your website visitors will see a variety of products sold by these hackers.
4. For Personal Pleasure
In some cases, hackers deface websites just for fun and show off skills. So, they hacked the website to know how far their hacking skills had advanced.
They often hold deface contests. This contest is usually held to find out which hackers can do the most deface the web for a certain duration of time.
Also Check: How To Add Expires Headers
Why Does A Website Get Defaced?
Website Defacement can occur on websites that have security holes. Hackers do not usually target specific websites for an attack. So, why is a website a victim of defacing?
1. Weak Login Credentials
Most people use simple usernames and passwords to make them easy to remember. Use one password for multiple accounts. This step will make it easier for hackers to damage your website.
If your password is too simple, it will be easy to break into your website with brute force techniques. This technique makes use of bots to make thousands of attempts to guess login credentials.
2. Does not have an SSL certificate
When visitors visit your website, data is exchanged from the browser to the server. This data usually contains sensitive information such as login credentials.
Well, hackers can steal data when the data exchange process occurs. Usually, hackers will infiltrate and read sensitive information they find. Then, use it to make website defacement.
This will not be easy if you have an SSL certificate because all data will be encrypted. This means it takes more effort and time for hackers to carry out the action.
3. Inactive Antivirus and Firewall
Website platforms like WordPress do have good security. However, without antivirus and firewall protection, hackers still have a chance to infiltrate.
Therefore, if you don’t provide additional protection with a security plugin, you could fall victim to defacing your website.
4. Using Vulnerable Themes and Plugins
WordPress themes and plugins are vulnerable to hacker attacks. Especially the ones that are rarely updated. This means that if you want to install plugins and themes on WordPress, make sure the rating and frequency of updates are first.
Also, it’s important to use the latest version as soon as you receive a notification via the WordPress dashboard.
How to Protect Your Website from Defacement
The best way to avoid the effects of website defacement is, of course, by increasing the security level of your website. Below are some ways to improve your security system to avoid website defacement. Listen up!
1. Perform a Security Audit
It is important to perform regular website security audits. So, you can detect security holes earlier. Besides, the audit step is also easier, thanks to the various testing tools.
For example, using UpGuard. You can simply enter your website URL in the bar provided. With one click, this tool will help you determine the level of security of the website:
From the information displayed, you will know what needs to be done to increase its security. For example, enabling SSL, setting Cookies, and others.
2. Perform Routine Updates
Are you using a CMS platform for your website? Don’t forget always to use the latest version. For example, WordPress, this platform is diligent in providing updates to close security holes.
Using the latest version will make it more difficult for hackers to deface websites. This is because any security holes found will be immediately resolved by the platform developer. In addition, the update step is easier to do, and you don’t have to wait for a long process.
3. Create Difficult Login Credentials
Using difficult login credentials will increase the security of your website. Because hackers will find it more difficult to break into your website. To do this, change the default login with a unique username. Besides, use a long password with a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. For example: “St0P1t! Y00”.
If necessary, you can also install a security plugin that limits login attempts. So, it can reduce the possibility of brute force attacks on your website.
4. Perform Periodic Backups
Backup steps are important to avoid unwanted things like defacing a website.
If your website is damaged, you can still restore it to normal with the backup files you have.
You can perform backups manually or automatically using plugins. For example, for WordPress users, you can use the WP Backup plugin. With simple steps, your assets can be saved first in anticipation of hackers.
5. Scan for Malware Routinely
Malware can enter your website system without realizing it. If left unchecked, the level of damage can be even more severe. Therefore, it is important to perform regular malware scans.
Fortunately, you don’t have to do the malware manually at this point. For WordPress users, you can take advantage of a plugin like Wordfence to do this in no time.
For Niagahoster users, you can take Imunify360, which is more effective in dealing with malware.
6. Manage User Access Rights
Setting user permissions is equally important. If you haven’t already, do so immediately. Moreover, managing permissions on a platform like WordPress is quite easy.
User permissions will control how far a user can make changes to the website. The highest rights belong to an admin. Therefore, make sure only trusted people have this access right.
If admin permissions fall to the wrong person or hacker, you might fall victim to defacing the website.
7. Turn off Debugging Mode
Displaying error message information to users is quite dangerous. A lot of information can be used to find holes in your website’s security. For example, a username that can appear in the error message.
One way around this is to turn off debugging mode. With this step, you can disable PHP reporting in your WordPress.
To do this, you can make changes to the php wp-config configuration as shown below:
ini_set(‘error_reporting’, E_ALL );
With these changes, it is hoped that there will be no more detailed error information when visitors access your website.
8. Use HTTPS
HTTPS is a protocol used to ensure the security of data exchange on your website. So, there is no intrusion in the request process from the user to the server.
The use of HTTP is very important, especially for those who have an online store, website forum, or membership. The reason is, this type of website requests and manages sensitive website visitor information. With the HTTPS protocol, the security can be further enhanced.
Besides, Google also prefers websites that use HTTPS. This means that if your website uses it, it will be prioritized on ranking in the search results.
9. Protect Website from SQL Injection
SQL injection is often used by hackers to control a website. Usually, they will look for web pages that accept manual input, such as a form to enter a certain code.
Therefore, set what data can be used when filling out forms that will enter your database. Also, don’t forget to change the prefix on your database tables to increase security.
Also, make sure always to scan SQL injection regularly and activate the firewall.
How to Overcome Website Defacement
You’ve upgraded your website’s security system, but you’re still getting defacement attacks too. What to do?
No need to worry. Follow the guidelines below to resolve defacement and get your website back to normal.
1. Lock your website
The first thing you have to do when your website experiences a defacement is to do a lockdown or lockdown. This method is done to avoid further damage.
After you lock the website, you can activate maintenance mode. So, your website visitors do not see your defaced page. That way, the reputation of your website will be maintained, right?
After locking the website, do a website crash check. No need to do it manually, just use a variety of security tools. For example, Detectify, WordPress Security Scan, or Google Transparency Report.
This checking process is very important to do correctly because if you miss just one file, then your website cannot return to normal.
3. Clean the Website from Bad Codes and Files
After knowing the various security holes with this tool, do the cleaning. Immediately delete any bad files and code you find. Of course, with the help of the tools or plugins you use.
4. Update All Admin System Login Credentials
After the security holes are fixed, it’s time for you to change all login credentials on your website. Even though the defacement did not occur due to credentials, this step is still recommended.
Prevent Website Defacement with the Best Security Protection!
Being a victim of defacing is no fun. As well as making you have to make repairs, your online reputation is at stake.
Fortunately, you’ve learned how to deal with a Website Defacement attack. You also know how to prevent hackers from defacing. One of them is by activating SSL.
Now, it’s time to practice the above prevention methods to keep your website safe from defacement! Better to prevent, than cure, right?
Also Check: What is Whois Domain and Whois Privacy?