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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.

Free SSL certificates now available for all web hosting clients

Great news! Apart from our professional web design services, if you’re hosting your website with GO Creative, you can now make use of a FREE website security certificate (known as SSL).

What is SSL?

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a technology which encrypts data being sent to/from your website, such as when a customer enters their credit card details, or completes an online form with sensitive information. It can also help to increase online sales through improved website visitor confidence/trust, and improve your ranking in search engines such as Google.

Secure websites are identified in your browser address bar, usually by a green padlock, the word “Secure”, or seeing “HTTPS” at the start of the website address.

What if I already have an SSL certificate?

Some websites, such as many online stores, legally require an SSL certificate. If you already have an SSL certificate installed on your website, you’ll likely be paying an annual renewal fee to us, or another SSL vendor. It’s important to note that you should continue to use this paid SSL certificate, because it includes a warranty to protect your business.

The warranty cover for paid SSL certificates ranges from $250,000 through to millions of dollars. Free SSL certificates have no warranty, so if you do legally require an SSL certificate, you should continue with the paid option to ensure your business is covered.

If you’re considering switching from a paid to free certificate, please contact us first to ensure you’re meeting your legal obligations.

What do I need to do now?

As part of our web design services in Brisbane, the free certificate is automatically enabled for all of our web hosting plans, and renews automatically every few months. However, your website needs to be configured to make use of it. This is best left to your web developer, as it’s not as simple as just changing a setting or two.

We can adjust all of your website settings for a one time fee of $165 per WordPress website (fees vary for other platforms). Please contact us if you’d like us to handle this for you or to learn more about our web design services.

What is SSL and can my Australian web hosting company help me?

If you need a a security certificate (“SSL”) for your website or app, most Australian web hosting companies should be able to provide this. However, let’s take a look at SSL first, so you can decide if you need a certificate for your website.

SSL stands for “Secure Sockets Layer” and is the current security technology used to connect your customer’s browser with your web server. They are essential for any website that collects personal data from customers and are vital for websites that use payment gateways (i.e. membership sites, ecommerce sites, and finance application forms).

Essentially, an SSL certificate changes the http:// at the beginning of your URL to https://. Your Australian web hosting company can sell you an SSL certificate and quite often they will activate it for you on your website as well.

Advantages of an SSL certificate for your business

If you don’t collect sensitive information via your website, then you don’t necessarily need an SSL certificate. Although there are rumours that Google will start to use these in their ranking algorithms next year, and some believe that this is already the case. In one way it makes sense to have an SSL certificate, even if you don’t collect sensitive information, because it lends you credibility and proves that your website is legitimate. It proves that you are who you say you are, because you have to go through a process to verify your identity before you can use an SSL certificate on your website.

Disadvantages of an SSL certificate for your business

When your web hosting company has activated your SSL certificate, if this is a brand new website with a new domain name, then you can go ahead and create your website as usual.

The problem is with existing sites, because you now have two websites – one that starts with http:// and one with https://. This is where you need an Australian web hosting company that also offers web development skills, because you have to remap your old website to the new website or else all of the backlinks and rankings belong to your old site. Your https:// website is a brand new website with no rankings in Google at all.

Want to get set up with SSL?

To register an SSL certificate at affordable prices, or for help redesigning and remapping your old website to the new URL, visit our instant quote page.

 

 

 

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.

Need help updating your website? Check out our customised training packages.

One of the most common problems we see at GO Creative is that many business owners don’t keep their websites updated, because they either don’t have the knowledge or the time. The result is that once we hand over their new website, they seem to flounder around for a while, adding new content intermittently, forgetting about SEO and generally not making the most out of their website.

To fix these problems, we have a range of training packages, that are designed specifically for businesses who need guidance and advice on how to keep their websites updated and ranking well on the search engine results pages (serps).

What training packages do we offer?

We can customise any of our training packages to suit your individual needs, but in general, most business owners want help with understanding how to use WordPress, with written manuals for their staff and with keeping their website optimised for the search engines.

  • WordPress training: Essentially we can design a training package that shows your employees how to add content to your website, how to schedule content, add videos and images, and create additional categories. Our training can be undertaken in person, online, using the phone or via remote desktop software.
  • Manuals: We can also give you hard copies of your WordPress training or any other specific training that you have requested from us. These manuals help to back up our in-person training, and serve as a resource and training aid for new employees.
  • SEO: Continuing to optimise your website for the search engines is vital to your rankings in the serps, so you don’t want to let this lapse. We can design SEO training packages (in person and manuals) customised for your business, so your employees can easily keep your website optimised at all times.

Who can benefit from our training packages?

Our training packages are designed for businesses who are struggling to keep their websites updated and need some extra help in that department. We have a range of businesses who benefit from our training packages, from sole traders who need to do everything themselves, to owners with less than 5 employees to larger companies with 100+ staff.

To have about a chat about how our training packages can help keep your website updated, call us on 07 3333 2932 or complete our online enquiry form.

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.

Startups and the changing face of technology

Many of our clients are startups and need a website to promote their products or services online. Apart from the usual problems facing any new venture, our new clients also have to deal with the rapidly changing face of technology as well.

Smart technology

Most small businesses are not in a position to take advantage of smart technology just yet. A good example is the technological leap from smart phones and tablets to smart wristwatches, allowing employees to receive emails on their watch.

If you want to be in the frontline of technology then it might be worth your while keeping up with smart technology. Alternately, you might just decide to save your money and wait a little longer to decide whether the latest gizmo is here to stay or is just another fly by night.

Cloud computing, big data and security

Without a doubt, the startup costs of a business heavily invested in cloud computing will be much lower than for traditional startups. However, with so many cloud based service providers jumping on the band wagon, the challenge is not only with understanding the technology and keeping up to date, but in selecting the best provider, as well as customising your cloud apps and services on an ongoing basis.

Even more of a problem is the issue of security and the protection of company data and resources from hackers. So with cloud technology, educating employees about online security will be essential to protecting the integrity of both company and customer information.

Then there is the issue of big data, which can be handled quite easily with the massive resources of the cloud. Accessing personnel who can handle this type of data however, may become a challenge all of its own.

Customised user experiences

Lastly, as technology continues to advance, customers’ expectations also increase and businesses face the challenge of creating consistent user experiences, across multiple platforms and channels. This means businesses need to be focused on social media networking and on creating unique interactions for customers, who want to access information at the touch of a button.

For more information on website promotion, online marketing or website design in Brisbane, call 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.