Things can only get better... (Pic: ThinkStock/Tom Reeve)
Things can only get better... (Pic: ThinkStock/Tom Reeve)

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water… it turns out that more websites were hacked in 2016 than 2015.

That's according to Google which reported as part of its #NoHacked campaign that the number of websites hacked increased by 32 percent in 2016 compared to 2015.

And the company doesn't expect this trend to slow down as webmasters fail to keep up to date on website security. 

Writing on the Webmasters Blog, Wafa Alnasayan, trust and safety analyst and Eric Kuan, webmaster relations, said, “As hackers get more aggressive and more sites become outdated, hackers will continue to capitalise by infecting more sites,” they said.

Google includes warnings in search results when it suspects that a website may have been hacked and informs webmasters when possible.

The majority of webmasters of hacked websites – 61 percent – don't receive a notification from Google because their sites weren't verified in Google's Search Console.

However, of those who do receive a notification, 84 percent are successful in cleaning their sites, indicating that it's not difficult to address the most common attacks.

Most attacks are not sophisticated, Google says, and the list of common routes to compromise include compromised passwords, missing security updates, insecure themes and plugins, social engineering and failures of security policy.

Google has created new help documentation for those looking to improve their site security or needing to clean up an infection.

“Remember a chain is only as strong as its weakest link,” the authors said.