Hack is a four letter word and four-letter words are bad, right?
If you are on the computer much, or if you watch TV, you’ve heard the word or a form of it used frequently.
So what is hacking? Is it always bad?
Hack or hacking is often used to refer to a malicious access to a computer or website, but let’s take a closer look.
Hackers and Crackers
Technically, a hacker and a cracker are two different things. Wait a minute. Isn’t a cracker something you put cheese on and eat for a snack?
A hacker is someone with a strong interest in how things work, who likes to tinker and create and modify things for the enjoyment of doing so.
A cracker is someone whose purpose is to circumvent or break security measures.
It’s all semantics and I don’t mean to complicate things. I just want to point out that the same skills can be used for good or evil.
It probably goes without saying that if we didn’t have good hackers who find the security holes, we wouldn’t be able to fight the bad hackers who create them.
How Hacking Affects Your Site
For our purposes, I’m going to put semantics aside and will refer to anyone who breaks into your website as a hacker.
I will further say that in this case that hackers are bad. They are out to harm you either directly (taking your site down) or indirectly (using your website or computer to gain access to someone that can give them what they really want).
Sometimes your site can get hacked without you even realizing it. Other times it’s very obvious … your site crashes, you get blacklisted on Google or you are greeted with an obscene message or crossbones when you visit your site.
A hacker might install a virus, redirect visitors to other sites (sometimes porn sites), or use your website to attack other websites.
Hacking not only affects WordPress sites, though that’s what we seem to hear the most about these days. I’ve seen it affect HTML sites as well.
What Can You Do to Protect Your Site?
Some things are outside your control, but there are several things you can do that will protect your content and keep hackers out.
- Use a strong password
- Update your website’s software
- Backup your website
By being aware of what hackers are capable of and taking a few precautions, you can prevent being affected by their maliciousness.