So your Wordpress has been hacked

Last week, someone informed me that my blog had been hacked:

My blog got hacked

I’m not quite sure what the vector was. Wordpress wasn’t very secure and I didn’t take too many measures to harden it. A coworker of mine (on our security team) decided it might be fun to have a look at the infected Wordpress Installation.

Here’s how the hack works

  • Your blog appears normal to you and your visitors.
  • Some rogue PHP code detects if Google is crawling your site and modifies the text and links so it looks like your website is a Viagra pharmacy.
  • The links go to other infected blogs and thus builds up page rank for this ring of blogs. So the upside is that your blog may be a top result… for VIAGRA.


Here are some tips for prevention, but you can find a lot more by googling for Wordpress hacks. My solutions are more technical:

  • Don’t use Wordpress - I recently switched to Jekyll since it was conceptually easier to understand, and it’s coder-friendly.
  • Remove all users other than your own.
  • Change your password.
  • Check your code into git so you can see what files have changed.
  • Prevent Wordpress from writing to your webroot.


Here’s what you’ll need to do to de-spam yourself:

  1. Verify that you are still spammed by using Google Webmaster Tools|Labs|Fetch as Googlebot.
  2. Back up your blog and database.
  3. Move your Wordpress installation to a new directory.
  4. Install Wordpress from scratch.
  5. Remove all users except for yourself.
  6. Change your password.
  7. Copy your theme to your new installation.
  8. Install only the plugins you need.

By step 4, you should be able to verify, using Fetch as Googlebot, that your website is no longer an online pharmacy.

Good luck.