Web Safety and Our Dependence On Others

This past week I have been thinking a lot about our dependence on others for our own safety.

We hear that pilot Andrea Lubitz of Germanwings flight 9525 which crashed into the French Alps, seems to have committed suicide and the murder of the passengers who trusted him on their way Dusseldorf.

Yesterday, there was a terrible gas explosion in New York City, which may have been the fault of the plumbing and gas workers and so many were injured and are now homeless.

Obviously not as tragic as these events, but certainly a threat just the same is when someone hacks into your server, leaving tons of malware and/or a virus and disrupts your business. In addition, because it’s now on your server and may be showing itself through your website, it can infect every other person’s computer who comes in contact your site.

internet safety graphic by saibaworld

Hosting companies are supposed to be doing their job to protect our servers from these kinds of attacks, but it does happen. A few years ago, one of my websites had to be shut down completely and rebuilt at a new domain, because we couldn’t find every bit of malware left there.

Just yesterday, a client had this very problem and their hosting company failed miserably in doing their job to protect him. What is that monthly hosting fee for, if not for service and protection?

He had purchased a protection plan a year ago and it was never even implemented. Then the hosting company tells him they have posted a document with all the files that need to be removed within 24 hours or they will shut his site down.

I log in through FTP, pick up the file, spend hours removing the files they told us to, and what happens next? Both of his sites are down.

We were then on the phone with the hosting company and needed their help to restore a previous version of the sites from the backups and they now want to charge the client for this. Are you kidding me? All this is by their instruction and they have the nerve to not help and keep us on the phone for hours talking about what they cannot do.

In addition, they have locked his hosting account, so we cannot even log in to the hosting to replace or fix what we need to.

After the client threatens the hosting company with a lawsuit for their negligence and we finally get a manager on the phone, the manager says he will look into this and call him back within an hour. One hour later I check online and his two websites are back up, but??? So is all the malware I spent hours deleting, and… today he has just received a new email saying there is malware on his website and he has 72 hours to remove it.

I say it’s time to move his hosting elsewhere.

So, the question remains, what can we do to protect ourselves from those that will do us harm online?

First, be sure you are hosting your website at a company that is respected by others for their customer service and track record on safety. You can be sure I will never recommend that client’s hosting company to anyone.

Keep the software up to date, that means updating the CMS (like the WordPress version) and the plugins you are using.

Be sure you are using complicated passwords, and use different ones for different places, not the same one everywhere! Don’t give your original passwords out to anyone, and create a new one for those you trust.

Be sure to back up your website content by frequently downloading an xml file and back up your database with a simple back up plugin.

For more website safety tips, I recommend reading this article: 10 security tips to protect your website from hackers

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