Baldidiots Affiliate Marketing Blog

Protecting Your Online Assets

Until recently, two things had never happened to me – I’d never been negatively affected by a google update, and never had a site hacked. But last month saw them both happen to the same site within a matter of days.

On April 24th one of my sites was beaten up by a penguin – resulting in a 60% drop in traffic and a minor addiction to checking my analytics data on my iPhone. Thankfully, this compulsion led to me spotting the fact that I’d been hacked relatively early on – thus allowing for a quick resolution.

Or so I thought…

Included in my hosting account was a ‘premium backup’ service that allowed you to roll back the site to any point in the past month. However, upon logging in to my cPanel and fumbling around for a while I discovered that the backup service I was supposed to have wasn’t there.

After waiting hours for tech support to email back and say “we’ll look into it”, I thought “sod this, I’m restoring from my own backups”. Thanks to my paranoia I have multiple back ups in multiple locations – we even have a fireproof & waterproof safe in the flat which is used to store backups, as well as my laptop when it’s not being used.

An hour later the site was back up and running, my stress levels had returned to normal and I had an idea for a blog post – so here are a few (paranoid) tips to help protect your online livelihood from disaster.

1. Keep Your CMS Up To Date

Are your websites using the latest versions of WordPress or Joomla? If not, you’re leaving yourself vulnerable to attack by hackers. Always make sure your CMS and any plug ins you use are up to date. There’s an air of mild hypocrisy on this tip as I was using an out-of-date Joomla installation – which probably opened the door for the hackers. Don’t let the same thing happen to you.

2. Distribute Your Risk

If you have more than one site it is advisable to spread them between multiple hosting accounts and providers. Having all of your sites on the same account could be disastrous if your primarily account is compromised or the server goes down.

3. Keep Up To Date Backups

Never rely on your host for backups – even if they offer a premium backup service. Make your own backups and keep them in a safe place.

There are a number of tools to make backing up incredibly easy. For example: if you installed your CMS using installatron you can also use it to create a manual backup of the site.

For Joomla users I cannot recommend Akeeba Backup enough – it’s free and incredibly easy to use. There is also a pro version available for a small fee which lets you schedule routine backups and even automatically transfer them to an online storage locker.

4. Test Your Backup System

Do your backups work? Have a go at installing one locally or on a another server. As well as knowing that everything is in working order, you’ll also have an idea of how to restore the site if the worst does happen.

5. Use A Monitoring Service

If something happens to your site you need to know about it as soon as possible. Uptime Robot offer a free monitoring service that will tell you if your site is down for any reason.

6. Sign Up For Google Webmaster Tools

If Google finds something iffy going on with your site, you’ll receive a message in your webmaster tools account – so make sure you have one. They’ll also attempt to email the webmaster of the site using a plethora of common emails (eg: info@ webmaster@ contact@) – so at the very least make sure you check your emails for each site.