Hacked – the illegal access to your computer or computer network. When I realized that my blog website had been hacked, all I could see was some faceless person in a dark room with only the glow of the computer illuminating its face – a sad existence. Actually, this guy came to mind!

On the morning of April 18th, I could not get into my blog website through my phone.  I thought something was wrong with my phone, so I restarted it several times.  Getting hacked never entered my mind.

Below are the steps that I took to remedy the situation.  There is information contained in these steps that will help you when it happens to you.

First Steps

I reached out to my blogging community and asked if anyone was having trouble with their WordPress site.  I got some “no” responses.  Then I heard from one of my friends.  She tried to get on my site and was not able to.  She sent me photos of the “weird” screens she received.

The first phone call I made was to my hosting provider – HostGator.  Reaching out to your hosting provider is the best first step in to figuring out what to do.  They can “see” what is going on with the site and can tell if you have been hacked.  They were helpful and gave me that news that I had been hacked with malware.  UGH.  They could tell it was from Russia. 

After I hung up the phone with HostGator, I got angry.  Why would some ?#?##@@ Russian hacker care anything about my site.  I felt violated and mad.  I knew I had to get to work.

Next Steps

HostGator put me in touch with SiteLock.  I reached out to SiteLock and they walked me through the protections I had – not exactly what I thought they were.  I had the bare minimum of malware coverage.  This is not something that was explained to me or that I completely understood, otherwise, I would have chosen a different plan.  So, the very nice young man on the phone gave me my options.  $35 per month for 12 months later, I was in touch with the tech team at SiteLock. 

What I really like about SiteLock is the courteous manner in which they listened to my disbelief that someone would care enough about my website to hack in.  They explained what they would do to clean up my website and they sent a follow up email every step of the way.  Later that day, my site was back up but only briefly.

Friday, April 19

I received a few more emails from SiteLock explaining what they were doing with my site to manually and electronically clean clean up my hacked site.  Around 8PM, I got an email they stated they were done.  So, I tried to log in to my site.  I was re-directed to some really weird stuff.  I called them immediately.

Have you ever heard of a “ZERO” day?  Me either.  Basically, there is a cyber attack discovered in a specific software.  In this case it was a plug-in through WordPress that I didn’t even know I had.  Several people experienced this including some of the women in my blogging community.  SiteLock removed the plugin. 

SiteLock went back to work.  A few hours later, I was finally able to get on my site and begin to make the necessary changes to my passwords.

Sunday, April 21

I changed all my passwords associated with my website.  Double checked what plug-ins I had and made sure they were necessary for my site.

Things to remember:

  1. Have a backup plugin for your site! The Jetpack Plugin on WordPress is a great simple option.
  2. Use a service like SiteLock to do a daily check and clean of your site.
  3. Make your passwords complicated. Use numbers, characters and capital letters.
  4. Install a firewall or other security system on your computer like McAfee or Norton Antivirus.
  5. Remember that you will soon be back to writing and posting your beautiful blog!
Back to Work!

I hope that this does not happen to and if it does, you can use some of these tips to help you through it. BTW – when it does happen, foul language is perfectly acceptable!

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