So 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 Outdated plugins and/or themes can be entry ways for some hacks which can compromise your site.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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