12 Feb Protect Your Website from Attacks with FREE Plugins
First things first: if you want to have a successful website, you will have to manage it yourself or pay someone to manage it for you. No ands, ifs, or buts. In today’s climate, one may not simply “have” a website that exists in the ether as a static few pages without any upkeep expecting an outrageous number of clicks or turnovers.
As your website grows in popularity, you may encounter an increasing amount of spam, malware, and additional threats such as hacking. Just this year, three websites that I designed have been shut down due to this very issue, because diligence was lacking. I acknowledge that I may have anticipated their involvement in their own websites inappropriately, and therefore did not properly inform them about how to maintain a successful brand.
Side note: I am no longer providing hosting on my server since I am ultimately responsible for every site that is hosted on my server and I don’t have time to go through each database updating themes and plugins every time there is an update available for those who aren’t contracted with a monthly maintenance fee. Either you pay me to maintain your website, or your website and anything that happens to it is 100% your responsibility.
When it comes to WordPress there are a few FREE plugins that can help, but you absolutely must log in to your website dashboard at least once a month and update these things in order to keep yourself protected. In some cases, you can even set these plugins to automatic or enter an e-mail address to have them let you know that an update is available.
Why update? Well, every day there is a new virus, a new hacker, a new security threat. Theme and plugin updates generally contain important security and bug fixes that will protect your website from phishing and hacking. Not unlike skipping the flu shot each year, especially if you’re in a career that puts you in harm’s way, such as being a nurse or a teacher. By leaving your website un-updated, you are making your website vulnerable to these attacks and are far more likely to have it happen to you than, say, someone who logs in every now and then and keeps their stuff maintained and current.
I personally and very highly recommend WordFence. It should be the first plugin that you or your web developer installs. It can be set to update automatically, and you should also register a primary e-mail address so that when it scans and finds issues, you will receive an e-mail notifying you of issues that need to be addressed. (This is when you would log in and address those issues, ahem.) It’s a wonderful plugin if you’re using WordPress.
If you are a frequent blogger, Akismet is high on my list of plugins to install as well. It’s an anti-spam and anti-malware plugin. If you have a great host (as I do) you will receive immediate notifications of any vulnerabilities.
Update your install. WordPress doesn’t update that often — maybe once every couple of months — so when they do, install it immediately because it’s legit. They are the biggest and most popular CMS in the biz, and they know what they’re doing. Take them very seriously when they offer an update. Do a backup.
Do a backup anytime you make a significant change to the design or layout of your website. I really can’t stress this enough. Within WordPress, you can export a lot of your files, including blogs, media, page text, etc., but your design/css stylesheets/scripts are not included in these XML files. There is also a plugin called iThemes that will backup your data and include it in a cloud, such as Dropbox.
This post makes it sounds like a lot of information and work on your part. I know; I totally get it. But in all honesty, just let your web designer install and set-up these plugins, then log in once a month and click the button that says “update”. WordPress does all the work for you, and you will be thankful for this in the long run.
I also have not recommended a single plugin to you in this post that I don’t utilize myself. My website is very important to me, and I know that your website is important to you. Take care of and protect it.