I am working on a Wordpress website that has been hacked. Let's say that it's http://thewebsite.example. There is no malware that infects people that open this website, but there is a URL http://thewebsite.example/xyz/ and over there is some other website, that looks like some internet book store. When I click something it redirects me to some foreign website, let's say http://bookstore.example.

In http://thewebsite.example website directory there is no xyz/ subdirectory. I was grepping the whole directory using parts of code or text from what is displayed under http://thewebsite.example/xyz/ but found nothing. I have no idea where is the infection.

I tried to locate the redirect by checking .htaccess - it's not there. By doing grep -r "header('Location" ./ but there is no redirect done in PHP files. I tried looking for base64 encoded PHP files or some JS infections, but found nothing suspicious.

So I wanted to check how the redirect is being done, is it 301, 302. But doing wget shows no redirection. The content of the URL is being loaded from server of http://thewebsite.example. The same with cURL - doing curl -I http://thewebsite.example/xyz/redirecting-url/ shows me:

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Cache-Control: no-cache
Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8
Date: Fri, 08 Mar 2019 08:30:33 GMT
Vary: User-Agent
Connection: close

No redirection, just 200 OK. So the redirection must be encoded in PHP or JS files, right? Could it be set in cookie? How can I check, for example using browser "web developer options" what is causing the redirection? It would help me to locate the infection.

  • 2
    Try using a normal user agent with curl. It could be showing the redirect only for certain user agents. curl -A "Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_3 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8J2 Safari/6533.18.5" ... Mar 8, 2019 at 11:29
  • 3
    Try disabling JavaScript in your browser. That will let you know if the redirect is JS based. Mar 8, 2019 at 11:30
  • 2
    Also, you can try looking at your browser's network pane with "preserve log" checked. That will show you the redirects in the network log. Mar 8, 2019 at 16:50

1 Answer 1


It sounds line malware has infected your server. Often times when malware infects a web server it isn't designed to further infect web users who navigate to the site as the aim is to redirect users to an alternate web site. The best way to ensure that every last trace of the infection is gone is to erase the site and restore the server from backups in a clean install of your server environment. Once you have done this and verified that you have a clean version of the site running on a clean server with no redirecting happening install malware and virus protection on the server to prevent it from happening again.

As for why it isn't showing in any of the test you performed the malware doesn't work by installing new files in your site root rather it works by intercepting the request response process and overriding it instead returning redirect headers to the end user. The reason why running wget didn't pick up anything either is that generally the malware that does this is designed to only override request response on connections where the browser string matches a certain pattern, either targeting a specific browser or a range of browsers.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.