How to Approach and Tackle a Website Hack
In today’s digital world, there is no website that isn’t exposed to the constant threat of a hack. It happens to the best, and no matter what lengths you go to protect yourself, you simply cannot fully eliminate the risk. According to statistics, in 2015 alone, there were over 177 million personal records affected by data breaches across every single US state, with businesses accounting for 40% of those. 2016 wasn’t any better, and this year we have already paid witness to numerous high-profile and severely damaging attacks – from stolen NSA software used for malicious purposes to rampant ransomwares.
While there is no universal, 100% effective solution to the monumental problem that is hacking, the steps you take to shield yourself from malicious activity can be integral to containing a breach and minimizing the negative impact. This is why we have decided to make a guide of sorts, regarding how to prepare for potential attacks, as well as what you should do if you are hit by one. We hope you find it useful.
Don’t Let Your Guard Down
If you have ever watched a cop movie, you’ve probably seen a stakeout scene. You may ask, “what does this have to do with hacking”? Well, hackers work very much in the same way – usually, they lurk and wait for weaknesses to show, then make use of the patterns and come up with an attack that takes all of this into account and turns it into a massive advantage. This is especially true for individual attacks on specific websites. So, it’s of utmost importance to make sure you are always up-to-date with the way your site operates. This means keeping all of the security mechanisms – firewalls, rootkit hunters, etc – in check and applying essential software updates that fix easily-compromisable areas. The latter is usually where many businesses lag behind, due to downtime concerns which often lead to losses. Do keep in mind, however, that the implications of a hack due to outdated software can be disastrous.
Having a general idea of the landscape is a cornerstone of preventing hacks. Recently, mass-scale attacks have surged in popularity – knowing the nature of a hack is imperative, and having the necessary information to properly discern the type of malicious activity going on is pivotal. Subscribe to a reliable source – our blog is full of the latest in website and servers, but we always recommend having a few trusted websites to see if the information is accurate and authentic. Relying on a single source is never a good idea.
Never Go Lazy with Sensitive Data
If you cheap out on managing the vital aspects of your website, you are already cooking up a recipe for disaster. Backup your data fully and often, make sure adequate network security, such as login expiry and frequent password changes, is in place, and ensure that access is tight and as difficult for hackers to brute-force as possible. This means strong usernames and passwords, as well as strict control over things like database prefixes and login attempts.
If You Get Hit, Don’t Panic
We cannot stress this enough, and while we can see how an attack on your website may stress you out to the point you cannot cope with it, you need to do everything in your power to stay cool, calm and collected. Remember – every minute you spend in panic while your site is in disarray, is extra time for hackers to wreak havoc on your business. Keeping a level head ensures you can reach out for help or start working towards eliminating the threat. Being all over place is only going to cost you more in the end.
Start with the most obvious step – take your site down until the issue is resolved. You certainly don’t want your visitors walking in on a website in the middle of an attack. Then, pinpoint the problem and take the necessary measures to remove it. Contact professionals if it winds up being too much for you.
Keep a Tidy Root Folder
Another important part of keeping your website safe, which is often overlooked, is preserving the integrity of your root directory. Unused files must be regularly removed, as they can serve as the open door for a hacker to take over at any time. Even with that in check, file uploads can have dangerous bugs that may allow unlimited access to your data. Keep file uploads to the root directory to a functional minimum – ideally, you want to prevent direct access by storing them outside. While a bit more advanced task, a good web hosting provider should be able to help you out with this.
Take Advantage of Managed Hosting
Today’s reality is such that many business owner simply don’t have the physical time to be on top of the website security game, all while running the other important aspects of their business. Even if you have the time, you may not be interested or skilled enough to provide adequate protection or deal with a hacking crisis in progress. This is why choosing a capable data center to manage your server is a great idea – having a team of dedicated professionals to provide both protection against potential threats and resolutions to malicious activity in the works is, in a word, invaluable.
At QuadraNet, we can help you with keeping your server safe. We understand the importance of keeping your website secure, smooth and operating without hiccups at all times – after all, it is a direct lifeline of your business. By choosing our managed hosting services, you’ll be taking advantage of our years of experience in the field, complete with 24x7x365 on-site support that will always be available to assist you with any server-related issues you might be having. We cover a wide array of aspects, from critical software upgrades, OS patches and backup and restoration assistance to security hardening mechanisms such as firewall and antivirus configuration to rootkit hunters, securing sshd and much, much more. Our primary goal is to provide you with the ultimate managed hosting service for a smooth and trouble-free website uptime, so don’t hesitate to point out any specific requirements or inquiries – we will try to accommodate you to the best of our ability.