You hear stories about large company websites being infiltrated by hackers and cyber criminals who steal customer information. It’s not just large companies that need to be wary of hackers. Anyone who owns a website is vulnerable to attack if passwords are weak, and software is old and outdated. There are easy-to-follow general guidelines that can be implemented on any site to make it more secure against hackers.
Here are a few reasons why a website would be hacked:
- Hijacking traffic from your website
- Backlinks to their site
- Links to another website that are paid for
- Injecting content onto your website
- Access restricted data, such as emails, credit cards, and other personal information
- And of course, for fun
Throughout the process of keeping your site hack-free, don’t panic! As an interstellar hitchhiker, grab your towel for its “immense psychological value” and rest assured that things will be alright if you follow these steps.
Always keep a backup! Back up your site at least once a week depending on how often changes are made. The more frequent the changes, the more frequent the backups should be. If your website is hacked, you can restore it with the most current backup. WordPress has a few plugins that will do automated backups such as BackUpWordPress. Non-WordPress sites can be backed up with cloud storage such as Backup Box. Backup Box helps you securely transfer files via FTP to your Dropbox account or other cloud service.
“password” and “password123” are two of the most commonly used passwords. Make sure your passwords are original, contain upper and lower case letters, numbers, and if the server allows, a special character. For instance, “@StarwAr5”. Keep your passwords safe.
Sometimes malware can be introduced through an infected personal computer. Run anti-virus/malware scans on your local hard drive. This is generally only for Windows systems.
Make sure all software is up to date. Keeping up to date with patches and newer versions of software is critical. Update older versions of content management software, such as WordPress or Joomla.
These general steps will help protect your website from being targeted by hackers and cyber criminals. If your website is infiltrated, the best course of action is to call your hosting provider to make sure it’s not an outage. Then change passwords, remove the malicious content from the server and deploy your backup. But remember, grab your towel and don’t panic!