How Many Hacks Happens Per Day? [Hacking Statistics 2024]

How Many Hacks Happen Per Day? The Alarming Reality of Website Security in 2024

Introduction

If you‘ve ever wondered how often websites get hacked, brace yourself for some unsettling numbers. According to cybersecurity researchers, in 2024 a staggering 42,000 websites are being hacked every single day. That amounts to 30 hacks per minute.

Yes, you read that right – by the time you finish this article, over 120 websites will likely have been compromised. And those are just the successful hacks we know about. The real number is almost certainly higher.

Website hacking has metastasized into a full-blown epidemic, fueled by the explosive growth of the internet, the rise of automated hacking tools, and glaring security vulnerabilities that many site owners are neglecting to patch.

In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll unpack the latest eye-opening statistics on the scale of website compromises in 2024. We‘ll explore the key factors driving this troubling trend, and take a deep dive into two of the most destructive culprits: worms and viruses.

Most importantly, we‘ll arm you with actionable, expert-tested security strategies you can implement today to fortify your websites against relentless cyber attacks. So let‘s dive in.

The State of Website Hacking in 2024: By the Numbers

First, let‘s put the sheer volume of website hacks into perspective. A recent study by Security Intelligence Review analyzed hacking frequency data from multiple cybersecurity firms and domain registrars. They found:

  • 42,000 websites are hacked every day, on average
  • Over 15 million websites are compromised annually
  • 1 in 5 websites have critical unpatched vulnerabilities
  • 76% of analyzed websites had software with known security flaws
  • Web applications saw a 300% jump in cyber attacks in 2023 alone

These numbers are even more alarming when you consider that there are now over 1.2 billion active websites online. Hackers have an virtually endless supply of targets to probe for weaknesses.

And make no mistake, a website compromise is a costly affair for businesses and devastating for user trust. IBM Security estimates the average data breach costs organizations $4.5 million. 60% of small businesses fold within 6 months of a major cyber attack.

So what‘s behind this meteoric rise in hacking activity? Several intersecting factors:

Proliferation of Hacking Tools and Services

Not long ago, hackers needed elite coding skills to penetrate websites. Not anymore. The dark web is now awash with plug-and-play hacking tools, many available for cheap or even free.

Malware-as-a-Service kits allow even novice hackers to launch sophisticated attacks with ease. Phishing-as-a-Service platforms enable criminals to outsource phishing campaigns to skilled "phishermen". And on criminal forums, hackers openly hawk customized malware, zero-day exploits, and website credentials.

Explosion of Websites and Web Apps

The web itself has experienced exponential growth over the last two decades. In 2000, there were only 17 million websites online. Today there are over 1.2 billion, with thousands more created daily.

Each new website or web app provides another potential gateway for hackers to infiltrate. And the accelerating shift to cloud hosting and storage means many sites‘ security now depends on the defenses of third-party providers as well.

Unpatched Website Vulnerabilities

Perhaps most concerning, website owners are leaving virtual doors unlocked for hackers through unpatched security holes. In 2023, 94% of analyzed web applications had a "high" or "critical" vulnerability.

Cybercriminals actively scan for sites running outdated, vulnerability-prone versions of web software like WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. The average website is probed 60 times per day for exploitable flaws. When the hackers invariably find a weakness to leverage, they strike rapidly and mercilessly.

The Role of Worms and Viruses

Among the multitude of weapons in a hacker‘s arsenal, two of the most pervasive and destructive are worms and viruses. These forms of malware are responsible for a large percentage of successful website breaches.

While many people use the terms interchangeably, worms and viruses are two distinct beasts:

Viruses are a piece of code that spreads by attaching itself to another program. It requires human action to propagate – like clicking a malicious email attachment or downloading an infected file.

Worms are a variety of virus that can self-replicate and spread independently, hopping from device to device or network to network without any human help.

A few of the key differences:

  • A worm operates more or less independently of other files, while a virus requires a host program to run
  • Worms typically cause harm to a network by consuming bandwidth, while viruses aim to corrupt or destroy files on a targeted computer
  • Worms exploit security holes to spread, while viruses rely on the action of the user to propagate

Here‘s how hackers use viruses and worms to attack websites at scale:

Worms are often deployed to perform network-centric activities like stealing sensitive data from users (login credentials, financial info), launching DDoS attacks to bring down sites, or installing backdoors for persistent access.

A worm will automatically scan websites for a specific vulnerability it‘s programmed to exploit – like a flaw in a WordPress plugin, an insecure form field, or a compromised third party service the site communicates with.

When it discovers a vulnerable site, the worm injects its malicious code to gain control, then replicates itself and spreads to the next potential victim. One infected website can rapidly lead to thousands.

Viruses are more often used to hijack a website for malicious purposes – inserting spam links to boost SEO, stealing customer data, or adding the site to a botnet. The hackers first need to get their viral code onto a computer with publishing access to the site.

The virus might arrive as a malicious browser extension that surreptitiously siphons users‘ cookies and session data. Or it may be embedded in a rogue WordPress theme the web admin installs.

Once on the system, the virus can spread to connected websites and networks, injecting malicious scripts or altering the site‘s files and database. Some viruses like ransomware can encrypt a site‘s data as well.

We‘ve seen the catastrophic damage worms and viruses can inflict in notorious attacks like the WannaCry cryptoworm breach, which crippled over 200,000 systems globally, or the Mirai botnet assault that enslaved over 600,000 websites to unleash a tidal wave of DDoS traffic.

So now the million-dollar question: how do you stop your site from becoming a hacking statistic? Let‘s walk through the most crucial defenses you can implement today.

Best Practices to Protect Your Website from Hackers

Defending your website from relentless cyber assault can seem a daunting task, especially for small businesses and blogs. But a proactive, multi-layered security strategy goes a long way in thwarting hackers‘ attempts to worm into your site.

These 10 best practices are essential:

  1. Keep all website software patched and updated.
    Religiously check for and install any security updates for your CMS, themes, plugins, and web server as soon as they‘re released. Better yet, enable automatic updates. Hackers mercilessly exploit known vulnerabilities within hours of a patch.

  2. Deploy a Web Application Firewall (WAF).
    A WAF filters all traffic between your website and the internet, blocking malicious requests like XSS, SQLi, and DDoS. Choose a reputable provider that automatically updates its rulesets to protect against emerging attack signatures.

  3. Enforce least-privilege user access.
    Only grant admin access to those who absolutely need it, and enforce strong password policies. Compromised login credentials are responsible for 80% of breaches. Consider deploying 2-factor authentication as well.

  4. Encrypt all sensitive data.
    Any personally identifiable info you collect from users like names, emails, passwords, or payment details should be encrypted both in transit (via HTTPS) and at rest. A single data theft incident can incinerate customer trust.

  5. Back up your website frequently.
    Regular, automatic offsite backups are your lifeline to recover from a destructive hack quickly. Choose a backup solution that offers one-click restore and test your disaster recovery process to ensure it works.

  6. Lock down your directory and file permissions.
    Ensure your website‘s directory and file permissions are configured properly so hackers can‘t access or modify sensitive files. Set files to 644 and folders to 755 in general. Disable shell access if not required.

  7. Scan for malware regularly.
    Use a reputable website malware scanner to check your site‘s files and database for suspicious code injections frequently. Some scanners can automatically remove malware as well.

  8. Monitor your site uptime and track file changes.
    Enable uptime monitoring to alert you immediately if your site goes down unexpectedly. A content tracking tool can also notify you of any unauthorized changes to your site‘s files.

  9. Educate your team about cybersecurity.
    95% of breaches involve human error. Train your site admins and contributors to use strong passwords, spot phishing attempts, and follow secure coding practices. Establish a formal security policy they must adhere to.

  10. Have an incident response plan.
    Decide in advance exactly what steps you‘ll take if your site is hacked, who will be responsible for each task, and how you‘ll communicate with stakeholders. Acting decisively can mean the difference between a quick recovery and catastrophic data loss.

While no defense is impenetrable to a sufficiently skilled and determined hacker, implementing these security layers will put you ahead of the majority of websites that hackers so easily compromise. But it‘s not a one-and-done – you must continuously monitor your site‘s security posture and adapt to new threats.

Conclusion

The scourge of website hacking shows no signs of abating. With cybercrime predicted to cost the global economy over $8 trillion in 2024, and hacking tools growing ever more sophisticated, it‘s no longer a question of if your site will be targeted, but when.

Automated malware like worms and viruses have industrialized the scale at which hackers can scan for and exploit vulnerable websites. A single unpatched plugin can expose thousands of interconnected sites in a matter of hours.

But though the numbers are grim, you‘re far from helpless. By following cybersecurity best practices like patching all systems, enforcing least-privilege, encrypting sensitive data, and creating an incident response plan, you can drastically reduce your site‘s attack surface.

Ultimately, website security in 2024 demands a fundamental shift in mindset from reactive to proactive. Hackers are constantly evolving new exploits and attack vectors – your defenses must continuously evolve in turn. Adopting a posture of relentless vigilance and layered, iterative fortification is now table stakes for any organization doing business on the web.

Don‘t resign yourself to being another hacking statistic. Take control of your website security today – your users and your bottom line will thank you.