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Every airline passenger about to board a plane, & every airline passenger on board a plane, would unanimously agree that the time to check the fuel is while the plane is on the ground. There are no fuel pumps 5 miles up.
The same holds true if you own a website. Without proper maintenance, it’s a catastrophe waiting to happen. Set-it-and-forget-it might work well for the rotisserie on the infomercial, but it’s a recipe for disaster for a website.
In celebration of Internet Safety Day, here are a few things to think about to help you keep your visitors and customers secure.
- Use strong passwords on your hosting provider’s control panel, &, if you’re using a content management system (CMS) like WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla!, on your administrative dashboard & database as well.
A previous post, “Protect Yourself with Passwords or Pay” discusses how some decidedly nontechnical people have made passwords that pin the WordPress StrongOMeter.
- Keep your site up-to-date. Often updates are made, not just simply to add new features, but to fix security problems that were discovered in the last software release. Failure to update leaves those gaping holes unpatched, making it easy for the bad guys to take over your site & do whatever they wish with it, including infecting your site guests with malware such as a virus, sending spam through your email server, or defacing your site with bad messages or porn, among other things. If you think because your site is small that hackers won’t care about it, think again.
- Keep your devices clean. No, a website likely cannot be infected by malware on your computer or mobile device, but malware that can log your keystrokes, call home to its command-&-control server, & transmit your tankproof passwords has just rendered them entirely useless.
- If you use a CMS, eliminate 3rd-party software on your site that has not been maintained. If a theme or plugin (also called module in some CMS’s) hasn’t been updated in over a year, try to find another with similar functionality. Also delete themes & plugins you’re not using, as opposed to simply deactivating them.
- Join Google Search Console
This will let you know about any issues that Google finds with your site.
As the owner of a website, you & you alone are responsible for the welfare of your guests when they come to visit. Take the responsibility seriously, & celebrate Internet Safety Day with pride.