Today was supposed to be the start of the infamous trial of News International’s former chief executive Rebekah Brooks and Downing Street communications chief, Andy Coulson, among others linked to an alleged illegal phone hacking conspiracy (now due to start October), now these guys have pleaded not guilty so it will be up to the courts to decide their ultimate fate.

But what about website hackers, unfortunately they don’t ever seem to get ‘caught’ all they do is hack into your website, take it offline or worse still populate it with unsavoury content that will damage your brand. What can you do to try and prevent them attacking?

There are lots of things that a hacker can do to get ‘into’ your website and believe me its not a personal thing, but if your website is found to have vulnerabilities then you will be on their ‘hit-list’ and they will keep trying. There are 4 security checks that need to be passed in order to make sure your site is safe for someone (ie your customers) to browse they are:

  • Is the site Blacklisted?
  • Is the site infected with hidden SPAM?
  • Is the site infected with malware?
  • Is the site running outdated software and plugins?

The worst of these is getting blacklisted, as Google Chrome and Firefox will basically prevent people being able to see your website – the most difficult to find of course is the next two because you may not even realise that it has happened.

So what can you do to prevent (as best you can) a malicious attack, there are a few pieces of housekeeping for you

  1. Chose a good webhosting company. A lot of attacks are at a server level so you need to make sure that your web hosting provider looks after the server that your website is on and keeps it up-to-date with all the new security software updates and patches.
  2. Keep your software up-to-date. This should be a monthly activity to go through your website and make sure that you are on the latest version. Out of date software provides vulnerabilities that hackers will take advantage of.
  3. Remove the admin user. Do not have a user called admin.
  4. Hide your username (that can be seen on blog posts) with a nickname so that you are not provided anyone with a piece of the login puzzle
  5. Really secure passwords, we all know this one. Make your password a strong one, (not your childrens names!!) and change it every month
  6. Keep your own virus protection updated, as you’re browsing the web you may come across a virus that can scan your computer for your passwords – make sure this doesn’t happen (or it won’t just be your website that will be under attack)

That’s it – all you need to do to keep safe, prevention is always better than cure when it comes to hackers!