In Security

Why did my website get hacked?

August 17, 2017

By Yorgos Fountis

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Why did my website get hacked?

You might be thinking that your website isn’t an important target for hackers but as we will see, it might get hacked anyway. It’s true that probably there are more lucrative targets than media agencies or a simple WordPress host but the reasons behind cyber attacks are often not what you think they are.

A short while ago, we wrote about how one can identify a hacked website. In this article, we will shed some light on the reasons why a website gets hacked.

Reasons that websites get hacked 

As we are painting in broad strokes in this article, most security compromises are either driven by psychological or financial reasons. Additionally, most attacks carried out in small, low-profile websites are usually due to automated security scanners.

Psychological

Usually, hackers are part of a larger social group with its own dynamics, language, customs, and ethos. Social points in hacker circles are gained whenever one pulls off a hack. Bragging, then, becomes a sort of social currency, and this is good enough reason for someone to become motivated and attempt to compromise the security of a computer system. 

Related to that, is the idea of overcoming a technical challenge. The harder a target is to compromise, the larger the social value one gains in the hacker community upon achieving it. It is also psychologically quite rewarding when one bypasses the security of a system. It is not only akin to solving a complex puzzle. But there are also the aspects of transgression and anti-authoritarianism to consider. They all make this achievement even sweeter.

And last, but not least, …hormones! Hacking computers and teenage adolescence usually go hand in hand and account for quite a few security incidents. Website defacement is seen as a high-tech form of vandalism. 

Financial

Money is a great mover of things, and although not all hackers care about money, there are certainly instances of groups connected to criminal circles.

Credit card details and other financial information are not always what hackers are after. If your website has valuable information which can be sold to other people, then it can potentially become a target. Don’t forget that there are a lot of e-shops that run on WordPress hosts ! Targets also include  databases of users filled with personal information, proprietary software, classified documents, other digital assets and so on.  

Automation

This is the most probable reason why your website can fall under attack. Hackers usually set up automated scanners and bots that sweep entire IP segment networks for vulnerabilities. These scanners vary in sophistication. Ranging from simple web bots that scan for particular web vulnerabilities, to highly complex ones that can be used to gain information about low-level network details and possible entry points. These can masquerade themselves to appear as something else, and evade threat-detection systems. 

Usually, these automated scanners run in parallel and can cover massive IP segments in relatively short time. This saves both time and resources. And afterward, the compromised sites can be used as jump-points for hackers to hide their identity, act as malicious nodes in a DDoS attack and even send spam. In general, resources are used in any way the hackers will see fit.

In conclusion

Not all hackers are hormone-filled teenagers that hang around on the Internet, yelling slang and high-fiving each other while spraying their e-graffiti everywhere. Their age, level of sophistication, and motivation vary. Certainly, a great deal of them is a relatively harmless bunch of teens messing around with computers. But as the real world becomes more and more enmeshed with the electronic one, the impact of attacks and the motivation behind them becomes equally complex and serious. It’s not about simple website defacements and random acts of vandalism anymore. We are very well into territories that sci-fi and cyber-thriller novellas used to depict 20 years ago; geopolitics, corporations, and governments weave a complex web of interests and agendas.  
We take security quite seriously here at Pressidium, and if you’re interested in finding out more about the subject, take some time to read about the various security layers we’ve implemented in our infrastructure.

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