Dealing With Hackers

28th February 2011

The worst imaginable start to a Monday morning. You get into work, turn on your PC, go to your organisation’s website and find that some nerd has hacked into it and used it to serve malware. You’ve been blacklisted and anyone accessing your site is getting a big red screen telling them all about it.

So what do you do?

First, find out where your site has been flagged. Commonly it’ll be Google, who provide a free diagnostic tool –

The most common causes are malicious scripts, .htaccess redirects and hidden iframes. If your site was reported by Google, you can use Webmaster Tools for further reports on what your site contains.

Resolving the problem can be as simple as locating and deleting the offending code, but in some cases it will be well disguised or within database entries. If you can’t find all instances you may want to consider restoring a previous backup. If you’re not taking regular backups of your site files and database, you should be.

Once you’re sure your site is free of malware you can then request a review via Webmaster Tools.


1. Make sure any software you’re using (e.g. a CMS) is up to date with the latest security fixes

2. Remove any scripts you’re no longer using

3. Never use the default password

4. Lock down the file permissions on your server as much as you possibly can. If you have to change them to install a script, make sure they go back afterwards

5. If your hosting provider allows it, lock down your FTP access. It may be annoying having to unlock it on occassion, but no where near as frustrating as finding someone’s hacked in

6. If you’re using a CMS, see if there are any add ons or plugins available to help improve security

7. Only install scripts from trusted developers


What our customers say:

I would highly recommend Hut Six Digital for your website implementation. Jo has been fantastic to work with and has exceptional knowledge in her field. She is friendly, reliable and professional, which has resulted in our fantastic new website launch. Her training was clear and concise, and I know she will be on the end of the phone or email should I need her for a little refresh. She has enabled us to take full control of our new website, which was something other companies have been unable to offer. Excellent value for money too!

Christina Canning (SMS Alarms Ltd, Thatcham)

Jo has been personable and efficient in setting up my website. She did a great job of understanding what I wanted and providing guidance from her wealth of experience. She has explained things in a non-technical way and has been very responsive, patient and flexible in working with me. In short, Jo is great value for money and easy to work with.

Vanessa Rhone (Venus Works, Oxford)

Excellent, efficient service from Jo. Highly recommend.

Xan Rice (Journalist, Oxford)

I am not exactly a technophobe but due to previous experiences of pressing buttons that I have no business pressing I have shied away from doing thing to update or improve my site. I have called on Jo Cox’s expertise several times and she is always quick, efficient and gets you back on track whilst also calming you down. I can honestly say that there is no one else I would call on in an emergency to sort out problems with my website. I have never had a bad experience with Jo’s services or with Jo as the service provider.

Lisa Bentley (Writer, Liverpool)

Jo has been amazing. Through 1-2-1 training sessions she has helped me to make significant improvements to my website functionality. This has not only been cost effective but it also has empowered me to use the skills that I have gained to edit my website myself in the future. She has simplified what I thought would be tricky tasks. I will definitely continue to work with her in the future and I couldn’t recommend her highly enough.

Felicity Wood (Yoga Instructor, Bicester)

Jo took my simple brief outline of what I wanted and turned it into everything I wanted and more. Jo was very professional, efficient and she was patient and understanding with the fact that I was not knowledgeable about building websites or what’s involved. By the end of it Jo had given me and my team a training session around how to manage the website. I would highly recommend her!

Sharon Mulholland (Sandcastle Mortgages, Kidlington)

Jo was completely fantastic! I’d been struggling to make a WordPress blog design work and was completely stumped. I made an enquiry to Jo about some help, and she replied within 24 hours. It was easy to agree on a price for the things that needed to be done, and she had fixed everything within 48 hours of the original enquiry. I had thought my problem was too small for someone to help with it, but I was pleasantly surprised that Jo was happy to sort out the small issues with my site for an extremely reasonable fee. Throughout the process, Jo was efficient, effective and stayed in regular communication. She answered all of my questions, even the really idiotic ones, and nothing was too much trouble. The entire experience was great and I would recommend her in a heartbeat to anyone who needs help with a website project – big or small. She is, in short, superb at what she does.

Imogen Goold (Blogger, Oxfordshire)

I wish I had found Jo earlier. We wanted to progress from making simple text edits to getting more out of the CMS. After a very enjoyable training session, we can now design new pages and keep the website organised. Excellent.

Margaret Hildreth (JP Hildreth Ltd, High Wycombe)