Post-Holiday Website Security Check Up

After the holidays, there’s always that downtime when you clean up the house and take down the tree and the tinsel. Importantly, you should also perform some cleanup on your website now that holiday web traffic has decreased.

This is the perfect time for you to run a fresh security checkup on your site to see if you have picked up a virus. Here’s how to do that so you can start off the New Year worry-free:

Identify If You’ve Been Hacked

The first thing you need to do is investigate whether you have been infected with a virus or malware.

Some hackers are blatantly obvious by changing the content of your webpage. Others are sneaky and will bury a hidden link into your website so that it redirects traffic to their site. (If you think this is the case, you can check and verify it using Google Webmaster.)

If your email account is linked to your website, you may also have been hacked so that the hacker gets a copy of every email that you receive. If your email has been compromised, hackers can send spam to the people in your contacts. Your hosting provider should be able to let you know if you are sending out an unusually large number of emails.

Another indicator that you have been hacked is slow loading times on your page. You can talk with your hosting provider to see if there is a way to determine if this is the case.

How To Improve Security

If you have been hacked, or if you just want to up your level of security to prevent a future hack, there are several things that you can do, including:

  • Update all passwords so that they are a minimum of 12 characters and a mixture of lower case and capital letters along with numbers and special characters/symbols.
  • Limit the number of login attempts to no more than 5. This will prevent hackers who use software to repeatedly guess your password until they get it right. (This is called a brute force attack.) If you put in a limit, they may still try to guess the password, but their IP address will be blocked after five incorrect attempts.
  • Rename your wp-login to a page of your own choosing. This will get rid of the wp-admin access portal that hackers will look for because it is the default setting. If you change the location of the portal, they won’t be able to find it.
  • Use access scripts that will block all other users from having access to your website’s back end controls unless they come from specifically approved IP addresses.
  • Install WordFence, which is a custom firewall plugin specifically designed for WordPress websites. However, this solution uses a lot of memory and storage space and is best reserved for sites that are on a dedicated server, or you could slow your website down to a crawl.

Website hacking is obviously a dangerous problem for site owners as it can cost millions of dollars in lost business and clean-up. By taking time now to do a security check-up, you are ensuring that your site will be safe for the coming year.

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