Security: Why You Need It

securitySafeSo you finally decided to build or re-build your website. That’s great…but now the work begins. You find a professional to help you build a site that fits your needs. You guys plan out the site, get the content for it and then decide on the design. You feel great and are ready to launch the site. Just one thing, have you been proactive in your development plans? Are you using some best practices? What about security?

Security? Why do you need that? I mean, it's expensive and it's unnecessary. Who would want to hack our website?

Well, plenty of people would. Instead of going into why let's just be proactive and talk about how we might defend such attacks. I usually equate this idea with my clients by talking about the insurance on their car. They may be the best driver in the world and they never do anything wrong but what about that car that just blew through the stop sign and t-boned you. Now your in a spot.

Since I tend to develop with WordPress mostly, I'm going to approach this as if I'm defending a WordPress site but these techniques tend to have solutions for whatever you may be building your site with.

First we want to talk about good hosting. Make sure you are comfortable with the hosting you are using. Having a dedicated server would be best but a lot of people start with shared hosting which can have some risks. If a site that is on your host gets compromised, it is easier for them to compromise your site. At this level, they are really not attacking your site, just the server that hosts it. The end result is that they can do things like delete your site and find other ways to get in if they wanted to.

Once you feel that you have a good hosting solution that works for you then you need to think about some things that are directly related to your site.

Some basic things that you can do is to update the WordPress version that you are using. Updates add functionality but they also have security fixes in them. Another thing is to keep your theme updated along with plugins. They have updates for many of the same reason as the WordPress core. Outdated plugins and/or themes can be entry ways for some hacks which can compromise your site.

Something else that I have seem played out over and over with some of my clients is issues that come from not having a back-up plan.

I've had a few occasions where clients have contacted me saying their sites were hacked and in some cases completely gone. They of course are panicked and I end up asking them if they have a backup of their site. 99% of the time it is no. Now as part of my workflow, I make backups of every site I work on every time I work on it. This is usually for my own good. Just in case I have to roll back to undo some changes that I made, I have that option. This is also something that I've used to help clients get their sites back. Rather than have no backup which is a complete rebuild and lost content that they may not be able to get back, I can say "I worked on your site last month so I can take it back to that time which means any work that was done between now and then will be lost". Now most will accept that but wouldn't it be nice if they said "Just use our last backup which we do everyday". I think you can see the value of having a backup plan in place.

This post just touches on some best practices but there are many for and I encourage you to look for them. With a simple google search you can discover many techniques to help minimize any security issues that you may have. Make sure you give it some effort so your not caught with the wrecked car and massive hospital bills and no car insurance. That's just bad business. :)

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Hey, I'm Jeff Freeman

A WordPress web developer from Peoria, IL who likes to travel, and enjoys coffee, craft beers, kung fu, biking and working on interesting projects.

Fighting Impostor Syndrome

impostorSyndromeHave you ever been in a situation where you are speaking about a subject and then felt the sinking feeling of not being good enough to give the information? It's like the little voice in your head is saying "You don't know what your talking about and soon these people will find out." If you have, then your dealing with Imposter Syndrome. You feel that your a fraud. A fake. A hack.

Wikipedia defines Impostor Syndrome as this:

A psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.

We've all probably felt it at one time or another but we have to learn to work through it. Sometimes we are tasked with giving a presentation to a group. Now that could mean an one on one with a client. They are paying you to give this information so they have an expectation but you have to have a reasonable expectation with yourself. How much do you know about the subject? I try to be upfront as much as possible. If I don't know I tell them right away. If I know a little, I try and share that. I know a lot, then I share that.

But how much is a lot? That is what you may be asking yourself. We may prop our egos up saying, I did this and I did that. I won this award and I was recognized by that group. At the end of the day, we may still feel insecure about the fact that we don't know enough.

First I would say, that what you know, you know. Don't be afraid to share it. It's something that someone else does not know. Sharing this information can also stimulate questions that they may have which really is very useful to them. They now know where to focus. If they have a question, then they can seek out the answer. And if you can share that answer with them, then great.

I personally am a co-organizer for a local WordPress meetup. At first it was very easy for me to say "You can't help run that! You aren't a WordPress expert! Look how much you don't know!" The thing is, that statement is pretty much right. It's hard to define an expert and there are a lot of things I don't know about WordPress. But, there are a lot of things I do know and I'm willing to share them with others that want to learn about them.

Because I was willing to risk my own ego and step up to the plate, I've found the whole experience to be rewarding since I get a thrill from helping others with any issues or questions that they may have.

Don't be afraid to take that risk yourself and share.

Don't let the voice in your head shake your confidence.

You deserve to tell your story or give your advice. You don't need to beat yourself up thinking that you are not the expert that they believe you to be. In that moment and in that time you are so enjoy it and you may learn something in return!

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PG

Hey, I'm Jeff Freeman

A WordPress web developer from Peoria, IL who likes to travel, and enjoys coffee, craft beers, kung fu, biking and working on interesting projects.