Posts

How WordPress web development specialists protect websites from hackers

Are you’re in the market for a WordPress web development specialist? Well, before you select a website designer for your website, it’s a sensible idea to ask them about cyber crimes and specifically, how they will protect your website from being hacked.

Is cyber crime really a threat to small business websites?

Cyber crime is a growing industry, affecting small business websites just as much as large multi-national sites. It has even been estimated that by 2021, we will have spent $1 trillion USD globally on cyber security. Hackers send our malicious programming code (scripts) which scour the internet for sites with security vulnerabilities, and automatically hack them. This means small business websites are often some of the most vulnerable since they don’t have the website budget that larger organisations do.

The last thing you want is to have your new website hacked, all because the WordPress web development team you hired didn’t have a specific plan to protect your website from threats. The best web design firms will recognise this problem and openly discuss how they will protect your site from opportunistic hacking.

Look beyond website aesthetics

While it pays to find the best web agency for your new website based on how their folio of websites look and function, you also need to find one that has a plan to prevent your site from being hacked.

At GO Creative, we have a sensible and practical plan that we put in place for all of our websites, aimed at minimising the probability that hackers can compromise the website. The following are some of the steps we can put in place to prevent your website from being hacked:

  • Configure your hosting account and install the highest level security plugins.
  • Lock down specific files from being accessed or edited by unauthorised visitors.
  • Automatically block visitors who access the website too frequently to be considered legitimate users.
  • Set up monitoring software to receive notifications about suspicious activity on the website.
  • Set up third party security tools to block attacks on the fly.
  • Ensure that only very strong usernames and passwords are used on all accounts.
  • Enable two-factor authentication (e.g. receive a code on your phone to be able to log in).
  • In extreme cases we can block specific addresses of computers or networks which look suspicious.

There is much more that a good WordPress web development team can do to protect your website, and we’ll discuss these with you during the design stage of your new website.

If you’re looking for a website designer who can not only give you a high-quality website focused on high conversions, but also treats cyber security as a priority, call us on 07 3333 2932 or get an instant quote online.

What are the biggest risks of not keeping your website software up to date?

As a small business, one of the reasons you should consider hiring a website management company is to maintain the integrity of your website. If anyone should hack into your website, your business can be in serious trouble, resulting in a loss of credibility, damage to your reputation, and even loss of income.

There are a number of ways that you can increase the security of your website, one of which is to keep all of the software on your website up to date with regular website maintenance. Whether you’re operating a micro business In Brisbane or a large corporate firm in New York, it’s easy for your website maintenance to fall down the pecking order. Small business owners, in particular, are busy performing a myriad of other tasks, leaving them no time to worry about updating software.

The last problem you need is for your website to be hacked, but it doesn’t stop there! Without a website management company on board to ensure the integrity of your site, the results of being hacked can have ongoing repercussions for a very long time.

Six potential outcomes from your website being hacked

Once someone has maliciously accessed the back end of your website, they can do just about anything and you have no way to stop them until you become aware of the problem — and fix it. The issues that may arise, without your knowledge, include:

  • Spam emails: Hackers can send malicious or pornographic emails to your customers from your business or domain name.
  • Customer data stolen: Without a website management company taking care of your website’s security, customer details can be compromised or even stolen. And this can get even worse: many people use the same password everywhere, so if a hacker finds your customers’ email address and password, they can potentially get into that email account as well, and from there they can get into bank accounts and more.
  • Website defaced: Hackers can literally vandalise your website, deleting, changing or adding to its content. They can take your website offline and they can even steal your website, moving it to another location so that you’re permanently locked out.
  • Software not working: Outdated software can stop working correctly or even interfere with other software, causing you no end of glitches and bugs that need to be fixed. And that’s a sudden up-front cost to you.
  • Browser support: Eventually, outdated software will no longer be supported by browsers, leaving you in the position of having to update your software anyway, but coming from a much worse starting point, so the potential for your site to “break” is significantly increased.
  • Lower rankings in Google: Poor performing websites are ranked lower by search engines such as Google. So if outdated software prevents your website from performing properly, your rankings are sure to drop.

If you’re interested in finding out more about website maintenance by our local team in Brisbane, you can get an instant quote online today.

Why do websites get hacked?

All businesses should be vigilant and proactive about security, whether it be their physical premises, staff, emails, files, or websites. No one wants their website to be hacked, for obvious reasons, however not many businesses do anything to protect them. With nearly 5 billion websites worldwide (and nearly 40,000 hacked every single day), this is not a small problem or low risk. It can easily happen if you don’t put certain actions into place to protect your website from being hacked.

It doesn’t matter whether you have a small hobby website or you work for a large multi-national enterprise; any website can be hacked if it isn’t actively being protected.

So how can your website become a victim of hacking? Well, as an Australian web design company with more than 15 years of experience in this area, we know that there are only three ways that your website can be hacked:

  • By gaining your website or web hosting login details. This could be due to obvious usernames, insecure passwords, or lack of security features.
  • Through software vulnerabilities. This could be due to poorly coded software, or even general technological shortcomings.
  • From third party platforms or applications, such as when you use the same password in multiple places, and one of those accounts is hacked. It’s only one or two more steps for hackers to test out your login details on your website and other online services.

Let’s dig a little deeper into these.

Identifying your login details

Hackers send out “bots” (automated scripts) to try and hack into websites by using brute force attacks to hit the right combinations of login details. This is one of the easiest ways to gain entry into your website and since it is all automated, all the hacker has to do is write the search code and upload it to the Internet. They will also try to hack your web hosting login details.

Software vulnerabilities

Many hacking opportunities come via vulnerabilities in software, allowing attackers to gather information about members, customers, transactions etc. In truth, we have no control over these issues, nor would any other developer anywhere else in the world. These hacking episodes usually take place by exploiting weaknesses in the software’s security and are the responsibility of the software developers to manage. Some attacks can arrive via SQL injections or remote code executions, and if you want to protect your website from these type of attacks, it is best to talk to a local web design company here in Australia, as the solutions require specialist knowledge.

It’s also important to keep your website software up to date, which helps plug any security holes over time. When hackers become aware of previous security issues with certain software, they’ll actively target websites which are still running the old version, making it easy for them to know how to gain access.

Third party platforms or applications

These are a growing problem and many of these attacks come via ad networks, online storage facilities, video hosting platforms and web hosting providers. The solution depends on the cause, but the third party provider has to secure their own sites, as this type of security is outside the capabilities of a website owner.

For the reasons outlined above, we take extra precautions when hosting and developing websites, but without an ongoing security and management plan in place, your site could still be vulnerable.

For help securing your website from hacking, contact us on 07 3333 2932 or get an instant quote online today.

Three reasons to keep your website updated

As a web development company, we know that when you run a business, you don’t always have the time to keep on top of everything and website maintenance is quite often at the bottom of your list. Whilst letting this slide for a short while might not be a problem, if left for too long it can be a catastrophe.

Let’s take a look at three of the worst problems you can face, if you don’t actively keep your website updated:

1. Your website can be hacked

There are two easy ways for hackers to gain access to your website: through your Content Management System (CMS) — such as WordPress or Joomla — and via third party components such as plugins. This is why you need to keep your CMS updated at all times, however if you don’t use a CMS but have a coded website then you will need a developer to keep your background code updated and resistant to hackers.

Updates for plugins and other third party components are regularly released, sometimes because of added features, but mainly to counter hacking. As you can see, if you don’t keep your website and your plugins updated, you can seriously jeopardise the security of your website. Your web development company should be able to update your CMS or coding to prevent hackers getting in through the back door of your site.

2. You can lose customers

If you collect customer’s information, such as their names, addresses and emails, then protecting your site against infiltrators is vital to keeping your customer’s data secure. There is no quicker way to lose customers than for their personal information to be hacked via your website. This is usually a result of poor maintenance and not installing a security plugin that adds another layer of security to your website.

As you can imagine, customers won’t be happy if their data is compromised and if you also accept payments on your website, then security is a top priority. Letting your onsite security slide is a guaranteed way to lose customers and revenue.

3. Your search engine rankings can drop

Google regularly quarantines thousands of websites each day because they have been hacked. While fixing a hacked website can be a nightmare in itself, trying to convince Google that your website has been fixed can be even worse. Many business owners have to simply start again with another domain name and website, because they couldn’t rank their existing website after it was compromised.

Losing your rankings in the search engines can completely devastate your business leads, and if it is simply because you didn’t maintain your website, then it will be a lesson well learned. Your local web development company should offer you a service that protects your website and prevents it from being hacked.

Here at GO Creative we provide a monthly service that completely updates your website, keeping it safe and secure from hackers. For more information on our monthly website maintenance services, call us on 07 3333 2932, or receive an instant online quote.

If your website is too slow or you keep getting hacked – read this today

Many of our clients ask us how they can make their web pages load faster or increase the security on their website to prevent hacking. There is one simple automated strategy that we offer to all of our clients, and that is to use CloudFlare with their hosting accounts.

What is CloudFlare?

CloudFlare is a content delivery network (CDN) which acts as a buffer or filter between your website and everyone else, including hackers and robots. The best way to explain CloudFlare is to look at the advantages of using it for your website.

Four benefits of using CloudFlare for your website:

  1. Increased performance: If some of your customers are in the US but your website is hosted on an Australian server, your website will load much faster for your Aussie customers than those in America. With CloudFlare on the other hand, static website files are cached (stored as copies) on various servers around the world. When someone accesses your website, CloudFlare provides them with copies of your files in the location closest to them, which means your website loads faster, regardless of your customer’s location.
  2. Increased site security: While a standard hosting server gives you some security, problems can still occur because spammers and hackers have varioues ways to try to access your website’s code. CloudFlare has a range of different security measures to protect your site from these types of threats.
  3. Increased uptime: With your website cached on local servers, if your main server crashes, your website can still be loaded by your customers (although some elements may be missing). This keeps your website live while your server is being fixed.
  4. Increased SEO: Google likes fast loading websites, and CloudFlare really speeds up your site. This helps to increase your search engine ranking, leading to more traffic, sales and conversions.

On a final note, your website address doesn’t change when you use CloudFlare, so you don’t have to worry about errors or using a new address. We highly recommend CloudFlare to all of our customers, because once you use it, you will wonder how you ever managed without it. And it’s very well priced, to boot.

The other option we can offer is website management, which means we use CloudFlare in conjunction with a range of other tools and techniques to keep your website secure, fast, and up to date.

For more information on CloudFlare, phone (07) 3333 2932 or request a free quote online.