Keeping Your Website Safe

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Do you have a website?  Has it been developed in WordPress? And do you know how to look after it?

“Yes, yes and look after it?  What do you mean?”  would have been my answers to these questions three weeks ago. Today they are yes, yes and learning fast. Three weeks ago I noticed some “funny stuff” happening to my website – the pictures disappeared which was somewhat disconcerting.  I then got an email from my website hosters saying my account “had has been suspended pending further investigation due to violation of our acceptable use policy”.  Well, to say I was surprised is a bit of an understatement.  And to say I have been on a steep and expensive learning curve ever since, even more so. The long and short of it is that my website had been hacked, it was no longer viable and needed to be rebuilt.  From scratch.  Only a year after I had already rebuilt it. From scratch.  I wasn’t happy.

So what have a learned?  Mainly that people who work in IT don’t seem to speak the same language as me and, I think they assume “lay people” like me, have knowledge about their world.  Well, we don’t. But I have also learned some valuable lessons (probably obvious to some) that I thought I would share with you:

  • Make sure you have a really secure password for WordPress.  At least 10 characters long and a random mixture of letters, numbers and other characters.
  • Make sure you are completely aware of how to keep WordPress up to date.  When you log in, you will see if there are any updates you need to install.  Make sure you learn how to do this and check for updates and install them regularly.
  • Before you install any updates, make sure you take a back up of your site.  Hope makes people like me think that installing updates won’t “mess with my site”.  Experience now tells me “take no chances – anything can mess with my site”.
  • Ask your web hosters how often they back up their servers and your website and how accessible it will be should you have a disaster.  You might be surprised by what they say.  And not in good way.
  • Think about getting your web hosted by the people who developed it for you, if they offer this service.  That’s what I now do as I feel it will be of benefit if anything like this ever happens again.  I won’t be the idiot in the middle talking to two lots of people I don’t really understand.
  • If you have a website, ask the people who developed it for you to tell you what you need to do to keep it safe and ask them to show you how to do it.

That’s better!  It’s good to get this sort of stuff off your chest, and if it helps keep your website secure and prevent you from having the nasty experience I have just had, I will know it hasn’t all been in vain.