Just had a recent (quite dramatic) reminder about the importance of updating my sites to minimize the likelihood of getting hacked.
Notice I did not say “hack proof” my sites. That’s impossible. Hackers are typically one or two steps ahead of the IT security sector. For every vulnerability patched up, there are already two new ones discovered.
In the most extreme cases, you can literally lose ownership of your entire site to a malicious hacker.
So a few things to do over the next couple of days:
1. Set new passwords, if you haven’t done that in a while.
2. If your passwords are not alpha-mumeric, upper-lower case, with symbols I would suggest you change them to this (i.e. JohnSmith678%%). I know they are hard to remember, but nowadays it is so easy to crack passcodes by just running a program that runs common word combinations.
3. Ask your server administrator (if you have one) how often you’re backing up your site. Ideally, you want a back-up on a separate server from the one you run your site on. If you don’t have a server admin, get a hold of one — it is a number you need to have on speed dial as a website owner.
4. If you’re using an open source program like WordPress (which is the target of some pretty serious attacks lately), make sure you have the most updated version and that all of your plugins are updated.
5. Also consider adding a security plug-in to your WordPress site.
6. If you run your site on a third-party server like GoDaddy.com, just drop them an email or call and ask what you should do in the advent that your site is hacked. They will be more than happy to help you and provide additional tips. If they don’t, then get a new service provider.
Hope this helps. Getting hacked stinks and while you can never prevent it from happening completely, you can minimize the risks by taking a few proactive steps from time-to-time.