by Tina Circelli at Response I.T.
The Truth about Web Security
If you’re online, the reality is that you’re vulnerable to malicious attack. Whether banking online, selling a service or product, or simply running a website that generates a lot of traffic, there is always the potential for an incident that can taint your experience. The benefit to a hacker isn’t always monetary; most often there is no provocation or motive – it’s simply because they can. As frustrating as this reality may be, it is a threat that all website owners must come to terms with.
The potential for disaster is there, but you don’t need to be in constant fear that your website will fall prey to one of these attacks. The most important thing to remember is that hackers’ skills and the penetrative power of malware is always evolving, but the developers of Content Management Systems (CMS) like Joomla and WordPress are diligent in staying in contest with these fiends.
How do you know if your site is vulnerable?
Code is the language of the hacker. As with any software, a website is an amalgamation of coding used to display information from databases and external sources, and provides integration for several different programs on the host server. Any one of these integrations can function as a gateway to the server and the databases used to store and retrieve information.
As the complexity of technology advances, it creates more room for error and hence, susceptibilities. The same is true for the complexity of your website. Things that lend to the threat of an attack are form fields, user access, and any components that incorporate the use of external applications (APIs).
Is there anything I can do?
Staying on top of CMS, theme, and plugin updates and security releases is one of the best ways to fortify your defenses. Any vulnerabilities that may have been exploited are identified and rectified in these updates, and the details of the latest version will reflect that. While this definitely helps, it’s important to note that this is no guarantee that your user data or website pages won’t be compromised.
A better way to protect your website is to invest in defensive solutions such as a proxy firewall and malware-scanning. There are also anti-virus plugins for your CMS, just as with your Operating System (OS). Keep in mind that some of these are paid components and not everyone’s hosting account has sufficient resources to run them on a constant basis.
What do I do in the event that my site is hacked?
The most crucial step in running your website is to perform regularly-scheduled backups. The Akeeba backup system has recently been released for WordPress and is already packaged with many Joomla themes. This is the number one downloaded and user-reviewed backup component and is the name we recommend and trust. With a recent website backup in storage, all you need to do is restore your website to that state and any infiltrations or alterations should be reversed.
Preventative Measures are Key
All of this can seem daunting or overwhelming for the average website owner, but don’t panic. If you have an IT support service in place, inquire about these practices and embrace them whenever possible. Unfortunately, most website owners set-it-and-forget-it in the belief that nothing may ever happen, but many problems are invisible on the surface while stemming further than one might suspect. For the few unlucky enough to fall victim to website defacing or malware-hosting, having a backup in place can at least provide peace of mind that you have captured the state of your website and can restore it at any time.