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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  • Software not working: Outdated software can stop working correctly or even interfere with other software, causing you no end of glitches and bugs that need to be fixed.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.

Website maintenance: DIY vs web developer – which is right for your business?

Ongoing website maintenance in Brisbane is an essential part of owning a website, and if this is neglected you can seriously endanger the reputation of your business. Some of the problems you may encounter if you ignore maintaining your website can range from broken links and outdated content, to aggressive hacks and lost customers. Whether you maintain your website yourself or you decide to outsource this to a web developer depends on your budget, time and skills.

The first major consideration is that when things go wrong with websites, they can quickly escalate out of control. Trying to find a web developer to urgently fix your site can be difficult, costly and time consuming. The investment in a web developer to manage your website will pay itself back time and time again and is definitely a business expense that is worth considering.

Some of the maintenance jobs that a web developer will keep on top of for your website include the following:

  • Update all of your plugins, as necessary.
  • Ensure that no clashes occur between your plugins.
  • Monitor your plugins and your theme to ensure that they are all secure.
  • Fix any problems that do occur.
  • Monitor and update your keywords, website content and technical data.
  • Improve the speed of your website, so it loads faster.
  • Enhance the design and functionality of your website.
  • Design new graphics, banners and call to action buttons.
  • Provide recommendations on your content, design and navigation.
  • Add keywords to your headings, links and other content.
  • Set up and install Google Analytics on your website.
  • Set up a sitemap and submit it to the search engines.
  • Add or update your Google Business listing (including Google maps and Google plus).

As you can see, this is a lot of work that will take up a lot of your time and some of it is highly specialised website maintenance. In Brisbane, for example, what are you going to do if you update one of your plugins and your website crashes? A web developer can properly test the compatibility of these updates with your website and other plugins, before updating the plugin on your live website.

If you were to neglect your car and avoid paying for regular services, eventually you’ll be faced with an inoperable car and a hefty repair bill. Owning a website is no different, but if your website is inoperable, your entire business can suffer.

At GO Creative we offer a monthly website management service that keeps your website, plugins and software running at peak performance, generating leads and helping you to rank higher in the search engines. Phone 07 3333 2932 or request an instant quote for more information about our monthly website maintenance in Brisbane.

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.

Mythbuster Monday: We only need to register one domain name

Without a doubt, this is one myth that most of our clients believe is just plain common sense – that you only need to register one domain name for your business website.

It’s understandable why many business owners think this is true, because after all, when you register a business name you only register one name. The problem is that with domain names it is a whole different ball game and you do need to register more than one domain name.

Why do you need to register more than one domain name for your business?

The single, most important problem with having just one domain name is competition.

Just imagine that your domain name is mywidgets.com.au and you build your brand into a healthy business. Suddenly you notice that traffic and sales are dropping off, so you increase your promotions and run some specials to bring in more customers. Over time however, you realise that this isn’t working and your traffic and sales are continuing to fall.

Then you realise that another website with the domain name mywidgets.com has appeared and after some research, you realise that they have ‘stolen’ your traffic. This is a serious problem that happens to many businesses, not just the large multi-corporations, but small businesses as well. We’ve seen it first hand, and there’s not much you can do about it unless you have a trademark, and even then it doesn’t guarantee anything.

This is why it is vital to register more than one domain name for your business, so you can put a stop to this sort of underhanded competition, before the rot sets in.

So if your business name is mywidget.com.au, then it serves your business well to also buy the .com, .net and .net.au versions of your domain name as well. Some businesses purchase another 10 or 20 versions of their domain name, so that there is no possibility that customers will confuse their domain name with a copycat.

Purchasing multiple domain names makes good sense, because it helps to protect your brand at an extremely minimal cost. An average annual expense a couple of hundred dollars, to ensure that your competitors can’t underhandedly jeopardise your market share, is definitely a sound financial investment.

For more information on domain names or help with website design in Brisbane, call us at GO Creative on (07) 3333 2932 or request a free quote online.

How we secure and backup our client’s websites

The number one concern of our clients is keeping their websites safely secure and backed up. That’s why we have a long list of actions that we take to ensure that every website we develop or host for our clients, is rock solid and protected against hackers.

Of course, there is always one hacker who can get around any security protocol and that’s why we provide a first rate backup service. When your site is backed up properly, we can have your site up and running again in no time.

The problem is that so many business owners don’t backup their websites and have no recourse when their site is hacked. Many will lose their entire site and have to start over again from scratch, losing money and clients in the process.

So how do we secure your website?

  1. Daily and weekly server backups: With regular backups at the server level your website can be up and running again very quickly.
  2. Security plugins installed in websites: These stop hackers at the front gate of your website and prevent hackers gaining forced entry into your website.
  3. Server antivirus, antispam and other security features: Stopping these problems at the server level gives your site added protection from both spammers and viruses and prevents damage to the integrity of your website.
  4. Unique and secure passwords on hosting accounts: We create passwords that are very difficult to hack even with the malicious software that is so prevalent today.
  5. Real-time monitoring that notify us when errors occur: If anything potentially damaging does happen on your site, we are aware the instant it occurs and can immediately prevent or minimise potential problems.
  6. Regular software and security updates: We provide a regular maintenance service and on-the-spot fixes of newly discovered potential security breaches.
  7. Automatic website software upgrades: Not all websites require this service, as many do not use software applications on their website.
  8. Installation of SSL security certificates: These are required by online stores and any site that processes sensitive information, to ensure that customer’s details are kept secure.
  9. Office 365 password updates: If you use this software, we make sure that email passwords are periodically changed and updated for additional security.
  10. Training for clients: We provide user training and advice on security protocols and best practices.
  11. Capital IT Solutions: We work with our IT partner, Capital IT Solutions to install on-site hardware and software security solutions to keep your website safe and secure.

For more information on secure website design in Brisbane, as well as our hosting and backup services, call GO Creative on (07) 3333 2932 or request a free quote online.

How to reduce risk in online sales

When clients ask us how they can increase their online sales, we tell them the number one priority is to make customers feel safe when entering their details online. Not feeling that their contact details or banking information is kept secure by a website and can be stolen by hackers, is the main reason many people do not shop online.

So here are a few strategies that will reassure your customers and help them feel more confident about ordering online.

Display your contact details prominently on your website

Customers feel safe when they can see your contacts details on your web pages. So to reassure your customers that you are a real business, at the very least, include your business address and phone number in the sidebar or footer.

Invest in SSL and SET protocols

It is vital that you invest in an SSL certificate and display this prominently on your web pages. This certificate encrypts data and protects the integrity of data in emails, web browsers, internet faxes and instant messaging. SET on the other hand, is vital if you accept online payments, because it secures online financial transactions, not just private information.

Displaying your SSL and SET logos and letting customers know that their banking details and private information is safe and secure will reduce their apprehension about shopping on your website.

Make it easy at checkout

Display all of the different payment methods you accept (including PayPal is a sensible move) and have a streamlined and user-friendly checkout process. This means that users can check their purchases before finalising the sale and that there are no hidden costs that pop up when they checkout. Also, free shipping is a big winner if you want to increase your online sales.

With these simple changes, you will reduce the customer’s perceived risk in online shopping and increase the return on your investment.

For information on SSL certificates for your website request a free quote online.