Want a secure website? The #1 way to keep your website safe … (drumroll please) … keep it updated!
Now, this applies mainly to our WordPress crowd; that’s 40 percent of the entire world wide web, but it also applies to all other content management systems out there. Older software frameworks and third-party plugins are always evolving. This brings better features, bug fixes, updates to keep up with technology requirements, and most importantly security updates. These security updates will patch or fix any vulnerabilities that are in the framework and plugins running on your website.
Why do you need to worry about vulnerabilities? Hackers, or people who are generally up to no good, use these vulnerabilities to enter information or even change or edit your website. While these changes may not be visible at first, they can make lasting troubles for your website. Here are a few examples of what they can and will do. We’ll list these from annoying to destroying.
Website Security Against Spammers
Through a vulnerable website, a hacker can create spam on your website through comments or even through your website emailer or forms. While this isn’t a full hack, it will hurt your website reputation or even get the website emailer put on a blacklist. This blacklist is a security measure that will cause your emails to be directed into spam or junk folders automatically. Your website reputation will be shot and it can cause future emails to be rejected from the clients you want to receive them.
A Secure Website Against Edits to posts and pages
Through software vulnerabilities, hackers can gain certain abilities to edit posts or pages of your website. With this ability, they can inject code that can do many things from spamming your users, to taking them to a different website completely. All without changing the appearance of your website. These kinds of hacks can take a long time to fix and find all the code that was injected as they can literally hit all of the files of your website in a matter of minutes.
Prevent SEO Spam with a Secure Website
Hackers can also gain the ability to add or upload images or files through vulnerabilities and not just inject text. This can create something referred to as Search Engine Optimization spam. They will create pages upon pages of information or products on your website that will get picked up by search engines. Once these get picked up by the search engine, your site will be a landing page for the hack causing users to be automatically redirected to something other than your legit website content. This creates not only extra load on your website servers but can ruin your reputation on search engines and will end up getting you blacklisted.
Stop Hackers from Making User Changes
Through worse vulnerabilities, hackers can edit or even get access to change users. This can lock you out of your website through different methods and require a programmer to get you back in. This type of hack is also accompanied by many of the hacks listed above.
Worst Case Scenario
The worst-case scenario is that, through a bad vulnerability, hackers can start deleting or removing files off of your server. Without backups, any information on your website will be lost permanently. Even with backups, sites for e-commerce, blogging websites, or sites that update often will end up losing data from the time of the last backup.
Vulnerabilities through older frameworks or plugins are the number one way all of these hacks happen. The second way being through poor passwords and security. So this is important stuff! Updates to these can happen multiple times a month, as much as every day in some cases. How do I keep up with all of this? What’s the recommended minimal action I should take?
We recommend you do a full update at least once a month. In most cases, this will keep the vulnerabilities to a minimum and keep you up to date with bug fixes along the way. Checking your website regularly can help as well. If something doesn’t look or behave correctly, this could be a hint that something has been changed and you should investigate further. The websites that get targeted the most are ones that haven’t been touched in a long time. Suspicious behavior can be caught early as offending parties sometimes “test the waters” by doing small tests before large hacks are made. By being vigilant you can help keep your website secure.
Still at a loss? Vervocity can take the pressure off. At Vervocity, our Website Hosting & Security Plans not only include backups along with updates, but also security monitoring. If your site’s framework or any plugin is reported with a known vulnerability, we update it ASAP. We get vulnerability reports daily to ensure we stay on top of it. This limits the amount of time that vulnerability is out there. Our goal is to make your website look less appealing to attackers, let’s chat and stay on top of your website’s health! Contact us today to get started!