Even HTML Websites Can Be Hacked – A Case Study

We all know that WordPress websites and blogsites can be hacked and can actually be targets for spammers, but did you know that regular websites can be targets too?

Here’s something I just saw recently that was very concerning to me.

A customer came to me recently and said that his daughter was reading his website and noticed a few funny words like biking in his kitchen spice selling website content. He asked me to take a look. This is what I found:

  • The stylesheet on the website had been changed to override all underlines and colors on the links.
  • Keyword dense anchor text had been scattered throughout the website and links to biking and travel sites inserted randomly in the content.

The links were were difficult to find in the content as one, there were not that many, and two link underlining had been turned off globally.

What is very concerning to me is that this was a silent attack, very subtle, small, and did not impact overall readability or appearance of the site. Most of all however was the site was just a five page regular HTML site.

This means that any website can be attacked for spammy purposes. The biggest key to identification is if link underlines are turned off and colored to match the rest of the text. Although this can be done for separate links and not globally, keeping an eye on your website big or small, HTML or WordPress is definitely now in order.

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