Are you scared of hackers getting into your website and messing things up you’ve worked so hard to get perfect? If the answer is no, you should re-think. As I’ve learned recently, even if you have a top-notch host for your site, you can fall prey to unscrupulous web nasties.
I told my mom about the recent incident, and her response reflected what many people think: “I don’t have anything on my computer anyone would want.” While most computer users would acknowledge that isn’t true of their PC or Mac, home to all sorts of monetizable personal information, their website is a different story. “Why would a hacker care about my author website?” you may think.
The truth is, hackers don’t care about the content of your website (unless you have a source of income they can exploit). It’s your hosting space they’re interested in. Unknown to you, they can insert code into files you seldom or never use, and turn it into a service for their nefarious purposes–ads for cut-rate prescription drugs or even harbors for questionable sales. These parasites can suck the life out of your site, and you won’t even know it.
In my case, my wonderful hosting service, SiteGround, detected suspicious files and notified me. I think the files may have been brought over when I transferred from HostGator (a host I no longer recommend at all). Be aware that having an infected site cleaned is expensive, so it’s definitely better to deny space to hackers in the first place.
My solution, recommended to me by Sucuri, a partner of SiteGround, was to install a firewall. A firewall provides a line of defense that keeps out hackers by setting up rules allowing you to do your regular tasks, but denying those abilities to anyone else. I maintain multiple sites, but if you only have one, the process is easier. I highly recommend the firewall service if you’re at all concerned about safety.
“But I use an antivirus program on my computer,” you say. “Why do I need anything else?”
Protecting your computer and your website are two entirely different things. Your website lives on a server, a computer (or bank of computers) connected through the internet. Your computer at home is vulnerable through opening spam emails with attachments or performing monetary transactions in unprotected environments (using free WiFi in a coffee shop to do your banking, for example), or being tricked into clicking on an unsafe link. You need protection from viruses and malware on all your internet-connected devices as well as for your website.
Keep vigilant, protect yourself and stay informed, and you’ll have a great experience with your online author presence. Just be aware of your options to keep out the meanies. A firewall is one more brick in the wall of protection (if you’ll pardon the pun!). Feel free to contact me if you have questions or want help in making your web experience more secure.