Help! My blog has been hacked

Last week brought a stark reminder that even my blog is not impervious to the antics of pesky hackers. It wasn’t voicemails they were after this time – it was my beloved blog.

Infecting the blog with malware through a weakness in the theme, anyone trying to access my blog was met with the cheery news that ‘visiting this site may harm your computer’.

Now I don’t profess to being an expert when it comes to all things malware, and I’m guessing that many B2B bloggers are probably in the same virtual boat as me. Here’s a guide to your first 5 ports of call if you ever find yourself in the same unfortunate position.

One – Don’t panic!

Being met with a big red warning sign saying your blog contains malicious software ‘that can hurt your computer or otherwise operate without your consent’ may make you feel a bit like a naughty school kid getting a ticking off from the headmaster. Don’t let this panic you. Take a deep breath, and then quarantine blog by taking it offline.

Two – Use Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools provides a handy scanner that will show you the troublemaking html codes in your blog. So if you’re down with the lingo, you can search through the html of your blog and try and get rid of the malware yourself (though remember that not all of it may be visible – ours was in our theme). Google Webmaster Tools also has a useful advice section on what to do if you find malware in your website.

Three – WordPress Forum

The chances are that you’re not the only person to have fallen prey to hackers. WordPress conveniently has a discussion forum – try searching to see if anyone else has had the same problem as you, and see how they dealt with it.

Four – Bloggers

Lots of clever techies blog about malware. Try Google-ing the problem using keywords like ‘malware’ and words that crop up in your Google Webmaster Tools search (in my case, TimThumb) Although their solutions might be a bit too complicated to carry out yourself, it certainly helped us understand the problem a good deal better.

Five – Call in the troops

If you don’t have the technical know-how, or indeed the time to sort the problem out yourself, there are companies that specialise in removing malware from websites. I called in malware-busters Securi who, for $89.99/year, put the kibosh on that nasty malware and saved our blogging bacon. Good riddance, malware.

Heather Baker is founder and Managing Director of award-nominated B2B PR, Social Media and Video Production Consultancy, TopLine Communications. The company helps clients in a range of industries to build thought leadership, through integrated communications campaigns. Heather is the editor of two popular blogs, The B2B Guide to Social Media and the UK Business Blog, which focuses on market entry for international firms. She has a MA in Psychology from the University of Cape Town and is currently studying for her MBA at the London Business School.