7 Tips to Secure Your WordPress Site from Hackers

WordPress is one of the most popular website platforms around. Over 74.6 million websites rely on WordPress technology, That’s more than Amazon (US), the most popular online retailer in America.

Of course, it’s not hard to see why. WordPress’s customizability, stability, website security, and ease of use is second to none. However, a WordPress site can only do so much to avoid hackers on its own. If the administrator at the helm of a secure website doesn’t know how to keep their site secure, it’s only a matter of time before someone breaks in.

If you want your WordPress site to go from hacker resistant to hacker-proof, there are seven big things that you should be doing.

1. Keep Up With Plugin and Theme Updates

One of the main reasons for WordPress updates is to seal newly discovered security holes in the WordPress software.  So anytime you decide to ignore updates out of laziness or out of the worry that it’ll break your site, you put your site in jeopardy of being cracked.

If you’re worried about your WordPress site crashing or getting lost due to an update error, don’t. WordPress updates go off without a hitch almost all of the time. Even if you encounter an error, you can rollback to a previous version as long as you have a backup. You can make things even easier with a tool like WP-Rollback.

2. Use a 2FA  For Your Logins

A 2FA or Two Factor Identification is an extra layer of security that supplements the typical username and password. You’ve probably already used this on secure banking websites that require an additional pin or ID code in addition to the other credentials.

This extra layer of protection may not be necessary for small sites or normal blog sites, but if you deal in sensitive information like bank cards, you should definitely use a 2FA.

3. Limit Unsuccessful Login Attempts and Remove Login Hints

Internet hackers typically use a hacking technique referred to as “brute force,” wherein an application program constantly inputs different data until it eventually uncovers correct credentials. It can take a while, but a brute force program will eventually find all correct combinations.

This method sounds crude, but it is by far the most effective way to break into unprepared sites. What makes it even more insidious is that these brute force applications are very easy to access and use. A ten-year-old with minimal computer expertise could hypothetically run one of these programs and successfully break into your site.

Luckily, you can make this extremely effective hacking technique completely worthless with two simple changes. First, limit unsuccessful login attempts by using a tool like LoginLockDown. Second, disable login hints that tell the user whether it’s their username or password that’s incorrect. Limiting login attempts could prove to be a mild inconvenience for your users, but you’ll have a much more secure website in the long run.

4. Rename Your Login Page and Remove the Admin Login Link

You can further deter brute force attacks by renaming your login page to something other than www.yourwebsitename.com/wp-login.php. By renaming your login page, you make automated brute force applications work much harder to find it in the first place.

You can also protect your site by using removing the Admin login link from public view, and turning it into a private URL that only your administrators have. All of this is doable with the Lockdown WP-Admin plugin. You can also download a plugin like The Hack Repair Guy’s Admin Login Notifier.

For this to work successfully, you may need to update your internet security policy with your employees and other administrators.

5. Create a 16 Digit Numerical Password With Symbols Like % or $ and No Whole Words For a More Secure Website

It’s tempting to make easily rememberable passwords like the names of people you know or your date of birth, but the easier it is to remember, the easier it is to hack. Instead, use a tool like passwordsgenerator.net to create a password that no human could ever guess. With anti-brute-force application methods in place such as tips 2 and 3, you’ll have a more secure website than the overwhelming majority of WordPress users.

6. Don’t Skimp On Your Hosting Platform

All the complex passwords and security precautions won’t do a bit of good if your host is unreliable. In fact, most hacked WordPress sites were hacked due to a failing on their hosting platform’s part.

Shared hosting is generally affordable and should be just fine for smaller sites. But if your site starts getting large and uses up more server resources than its peers, your shared host may encourage you to upgrade. This may be periodic series of messages if your host is polite, or your site may be dropped without warning if you’re unlucky.

If your site is going to be big, you’re better off going for a more secure WordPress specialized host. Pagely and Siteground are two well-respected WordPress hosts, but you should shop around to find one that directly suits your needs. In addition, you should keep track of your website’s server load and performance to see the degree of web hosting you need (with a tool like SiteUpTime).

7.  Protect Your Own Computer

This goes without saying for most of you, but many others often forget this valuable tip. You need to ensure that your own system is secure. It makes no sense to protect your site from the outside if your own computer is infected with malware, trojans, or other bugs. If you’re getting popup ads, haven’t scanned for malware or adware in the last month, frequently visit unsafe sites or click random ads, or don’t utilize a firewall, you should check your system with multiple trusted virus scanners before doing anything else.

Remember to Always Have Backups!

Nothing is guaranteed. It’s possible that your site could still be hacked even with these security measures in place. Luckily, backups function as your trump card against hackers. If you or one of your administrators notices some malicious activity on your site, take it down and rewind back to a previous version once you’ve determined the cause.

It’s an inconvenience, but a few hours of site downtime is much better than someone stealing customer information from your secure website!

It’s recommended that you keep at least 3 backups of your site in various media including physical ones  just in case your computer is compromised. You can make this process easier by turning on automated WordPress backups, but remember to check often to ensure the application is still working.

Downtime is unacceptable. You should be monitoring yours. Contact us for more on how to keep your website secure.

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Your Server Uptime Needs Monitoring Now: 4 Reasons Why

You put all this work into building a beautiful, responsive website for your business, and you’re getting tons of traffic from it. Your business is gaining new customers with its online presence and your sales and customer satisfaction rate have been improving.

Even if your server uptime is at 99%, this means that for over seven hours per month your customers cannot reach you or make purchases. Downtime, even as little as seven hours per month, can lead to detrimental results for your business.

What Does Poor Server Uptime Look Like?

Several factors can cause a server to go down, including server hardware issues, software issues, coding errors, network downtime and power outages to name a few. The possibilities are endless. When your site isn’t up and running like it should be, visitors might see the following:

  • Http errors on the screen
  • Hijacked pages that contain malicious content
  • Dead pages where nothing loads at all
  • Slow load times or “soft downtime,” in which the site is not actually down but its performance is affected to the point of being unable to operate

Any of these factors can quickly deter a customer. When they can quickly get to another site with just a click of a button, visitors are not likely to stick around and wait for your site to load. If your site experiences downtime frequently, customers will remember that, and make a poor association with your business.

Here are four reasons why you should take your website seriously and monitor your server uptime:

1. Prevent the loss of sales.

Server downtime is the equivalent of closing up shop. When the store is closed, there is no chance to make a sale. And when you can’t predict when your site will go down, you run the risk of closing your store during its prime shopping hours.

When the store is closed, there is no chance to make a sale. And when you can’t predict when your site will go down, you run the risk of closing your store during its prime shopping hours.

When your website is down, the possibility of a sale goes down with it. Customers can’t make purchases unless your site is up and running. The more frequently your website experiences downtime, the harder the loss of sales will affect your business.

Think of huge businesses that generate the majority of their revenue from online sales. A few hours of downtime can make a significant dent in their sales goal. For example, Amazon.com crashed for roughly two hours in June 2007. It cost them about $3.48 million in revenue.

While downtime may affect financial costs in immediate time, it can also affect future profits if your company’s brand and customer satisfaction are compromised. We’re getting into that below:

2. Protect your business’s reputation and image.

Your website is vital to your business’s brand and image. A customer’s interaction with your website can leave a lasting impression on their perception of your business.

If a customer visits your site when it is experiencing downtime, they might not come back. Even worse, if your site is running too slowly, the customer might give up and turn to your competitor’s site. This should be enough motivation to monitor your server uptime.

This should be enough motivation to monitor your server uptime.

Frequent downtime can also play a part in how easily customers can find your site. Google is not a fan of server issues. If your website is constantly down or running slowly for a few days, Google takes this into account and as a result, your search ranking can go way down.

Without a good search ranking, customers will have a hard time finding your site. Without customers, you will have no sales. Server downtime leads to a spiral of downfalls for your business.

3. Detect hackers immediately.

Hackers can affect your server uptime, as well as your brand reputation, customers and sales, just by entering malicious code into your site. When that happens, your site is sure to suffer a setback.

The benefit of a website monitoring service is that they will let you know right away when your website has been hacked and you can go in and address the issue. Without this monitoring service, you may go several hours or longer without knowing your website has been hacked. You risk the embarrassment of someone else, may even a customer, telling you what they saw on your site.

4. Understand your site’s performance.

In addition to notifying you of downtime or hacker issues, a website monitoring service can keep you informed of how well your website operates on a day-to-day basis. Many services can inform you of the following:

  • How responsive your site is
  • Whether your site contains to many graphics or animated items
  • If you are in the top-10 search results in Google
  • If your website is available around the clock

Monitoring services not only detect server and network issues as soon as they occur, but they also may provide insight on performance benchmarking, alerting capabilities, detailed reporting, data visualizations and more to keep your website and network running smoothly.

We’re Here For You

Server uptime monitoring is an efficient way to keep your online services working. Website uptime monitoring tests the performance of your website and checks whether your site is working well enough or not. This service helps in finding the weak points of a site and eliminating downtime.

Poor server uptime can have a number of effects on the success of your business. From financial losses to customer dissatisfaction and a compromised brand image, the downfalls are too significant to risk. Use a website monitoring service so that you are made aware of issues as they occur.

At SiteUptime, we notify you instantly by email or text message when your site goes down so that you can fix the problem before it affects your business’s revenue, customers or reputation. Our service also provides detailed statistics about your website’s availability and response times so that you can track how often your site is down.

For your online business to be successful, you need to eliminate downtime as much as possible. Uptime monitoring services are the best way to keep your website running well so you can continue to generate revenue and satisfy your customers.

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Network Downtime Cost: How Can You Protect Your Website?

Do you know how much network downtime your website experiences in any given week?

When was your network last down? Can you correlate these crashes with particular events?

Are your clients and customers reporting downtime? Can you validate those reports?

Knowledge is power.

This means, a lack of knowledge is a loss to you and your business.

Fortunately, there’s a solution. But first, let’s talk about the actual cost of network downtime.

1. Network Downtime Cost: Real Dollar Amounts

Depending on how big or small your company actually is could determine how large a chunk network downtime can pull from your income.

In a survey of over 200 companies, CA Technologies found that network downtime costs companies a total of $26.5 billion in one year. 

Breaking it down even further shows that small companies lost around $55,000 each year. Medium-sized companies lost  $91,000. Large companies? They lost upwards of $1,000,000 because of IT failures.

Suffice it to say, from small businesses and across the field to big data centers, the real dollar to minute cost of network downtime is horrendous.

2. Network Downtime Cost: The Cost to You

If you want to estimate your own downtime cost in real dollar amounts, we’ve created a simple formula for you to follow:

Assume your revenues are $150,000 at 98% uptime.

At 98% uptime (for which you would need a reliable API to determine), you would multiply the hours in a quarter (1536) by your downtime (0.2 or 2%) to get 31 downtime hours in a quarter.

.02 Downtime Percentage * 1536 Hours in a Quarter = 31 Downtime Hours

Subtract the number of downtime hours from the total hours in a quarter to get your uptime hours.

1536 Quarterly Hours – 31 Downtime Hours = 1525 Uptime Hours

In this case, you now have 1525 hours left in the quarter. Now, divide your quarterly revenue by the hours left in the quarter to get your hourly income for that quarter.

$150,000 Total Quarterly Revenue/1525 Uptime Hours = $98 Per Hour of Revenue

Now multiply the dollar amount per hour of revenue by your downtime hours.

31 Downtime Hours * $98 Per Hour of Revenue = $3,038 Potentially Lost Revenue Per Quarter.

The key takeaway here is the realization that, even at 98% uptime and a with a modest revenue, the cost to your business can still be sizable.

And this is only taking into account sales revenue, not even lost customer base.

3. Network Downtime Cost: Reputation loss

Imagine if a brick and mortar business shut down for a collective “break” for a few minutes to an hour during its busiest time each day.

Is that “closed” sign causing people to huff and puff and walk away, never to return again?

How long do you think your reputation could survive network failure? If you run a time intensive business, perhaps some online app with fierce competition from other sites, even a few minutes of downtime might send someone away from your service to the next guy.

In August of 2013, the New York Times’ website went down for a mere two hours during the middle of the day. How did it impact their customer base? Stocks dropped, and the Wall Street Journal took advantage, dropping their paywall just to soak up the Times’ customer base.

Moving up in the world of internet domination, we see that when Google went down for a total of five minutes back in 2013, total internet traffic dropped by 40%. Of course, Google is too big to fail in this instance, but imagine the impact this had on a myriad of businesses across the globe.

How many customers might be patient enough to click refresh a few times? With some APIs, you might be able to mitigate this problem with a special apology to your customers.

Again, you may not see a few minutes of network failure as a problem, but first impressions are important, and your competitors are right next door waiting for your website to fail.

4. Network Downtime Cost: SEO and SERP

Depending on how often downtime occurs for your website, you may or may not experience a change in your SERP rankings. And how often and when Google crawls your site really depends on many factors other than downtime.

But if left unattended, your network problems could quickly become much larger bouts of network failure, leaving your rankings in danger of dropping dramatically.

According to some anecdotal data, Google has responded to queries about dropped rankings by saying that if they are unable to access a page more than a few times in a row, they drop the site from their index altogether.

Now, the more traffic a site gets, the more the Googlebots crawl, so, again, you may experience very little change in your rankings because of network downtime.


Now that we’ve painted a dire enough picture for you, let’s mitigate these risks, at least a little bit.

As we mentioned before, to know how much uptime, and ultimately how much downtime, your site experiences, you need a reliable and affordable API to augment your current dashboard.

Our new SiteUptime Website Monitor API 2.0 can create up to six monitors which you can access from a single widget.

Check out our demo account.  Here you see that we offer a wide range of graphic reports making it easy to see when your server was down, how often, and even average response times.

As you know, how long a site takes to load may determine how long a customer stays on your site. If each page on your site takes ages to load, how likely is it a customer is going to continue to browse your site. Now you can monitor whether those animations on your site are an attractive burden or not.

Now you can monitor whether those animations on your site are an attractive burden or not.

And as you fix your downtime problems, Uptime’s new API will give you a chance to communicate to your customers with a customizable public status page, which will hopefully assuage any damage to your reputation.

From a wide monitor load to an excellent graphical interface, you now have the tools in your hand to find and root out any problems causing network downtime for your website.

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SiteUpTime’s New API: Easy Access to Easy Monitoring

Websites can be knocked offline by many different causes. Server or webmaster errors, DDoS attacks and even data center power failures can take your website out of commission.

Knowledge is power. The sooner you know there is a problem, the sooner you can begin finding a solution.

That’s why a comprehensive website monitoring program is so important for your business. And, as always, SiteUptime is dedicated to providing you with that system.

We help to ensure that your site is up and running when your customers visit.

And now, the best way to monitor your website’s uptime just got better. SiteUptime’s new API system gives you the freedom to control your monitors from anywhere. With the new SiteUptime Website Monitor API 2.0, you can easily make adjustments and changes to your website monitoring program—whether you are tracking a single website or hundreds.

Just set up your API using a remote custom script and then begin exploring the ways instant access and control can make your web monitoring even better.

Benefits of Using SiteUptime Website Monitor API 2.0

Based on the easy to implement REST protocols and using JSON language, our new API provides your web development team with an array of options for monitoring and design. In addition to being able to add or change monitors, SiteUptime’s API 2.0 allows you to easily access and integrate monitoring statistics into your custom dashboard. You’ll be able to customize and implement new monitoring for each of your websites or clients efficiently using the new API 2.0.

Here are just a few of the ways to make use of this powerful interface:

  • Collect information on every monitor. Use the GET function to create an output and performance list for all of the devices or services that you have selected for monitoring. Using the GET function permits quick access to all of your monitoring activity for every domain. Then, you can share, analyze and track the details in your own database or custom dashboard.
  • Gather results for a single monitor. The GET function paired with a single monitor’s ID allows you to retrieve specific information. Set up an interface that collects individual monitor data for individual clients or staffers. With this feature, your developers can create scripts that access information when needed and integrate that information into your custom reporting program.
  • Add or delete monitors from your service list. With POST and PUT commands, monitors can be added or updated from your control panel. DELETE removes monitors that no longer need to be covered. Using a customized script, you can add new domains in bulk without having to re-enter or transfer information manually.
  • Automate the handling of multiple client sites. If you are a service provider, then API provides you the best method for automating your onboarding process for new client domains. Add SiteUptime’s monitoring service for each new client using the SiteUptime API. Our RESTful API makes it easy for you to connect your internal systems or third party apps like Zapier. Set your protocols and let automation take care of the rest.
  • Assign actions based on real-time data. Use our API to integrate your monitoring information with PagerDuty.com or another notification system. Create webhooks that direct communications through your team’s system. Use these custom scripts to download single or multiple monitor data sets and distribute them through your customized alert and action center. With full integration, assigned engineers and developers can be kept informed and updated effortlessly. Customize your notification system further by sending out different notices based on outage times, urgency, repair progress and node locations.
  • View status reports using your own control panel or dashboard. SiteUptime’s Website Monitor API allows you to track and view information in the format that your users prefer. With API, you can instantly download and integrate monitor performance information into your organization’s control panel or dashboard. Adding performance reports from SiteUptime into your existing reporting system eases communication and analysis. You can compare the performance of various web servers and web pages by downloading bulk information on all your monitors. Bring agility to your analytics with fast access to full information.

Easy to Use, Easy to Integrate

SiteUptime’s API is available free with your Standard or Pro account. By using a straightforward REST API, SiteUptime has made it easy for developers to incorporate performance details and related information into their existing environments. Getting started is simple. Following our step-by-step instructions, your developer can have you connected and in control in no time.

To connect your application to SiteUptime’s service, you’ll need to first obtain an API Key. If you are a Standard or Pro User, just access your account and select the API button. If you aren’t already a Standard or Pro, you’ll need to upgrade before the next step.

Next, choose the APIv2.0 link and create an API key. You’ll need to include this API key in the ‘X-Auth-API-Key’ header or Basic HTTP Authentication password field each time to send an API request.

Once you have the API key, follow the instruction in our API documentation for quick implementation of the tasks you want and need. If you have questions, just contact our customer service center for fast and accurate assistance.

Why SiteUptime Monitoring with API?

Minute count when your site is offline. According to Inc.com, downtime for a webstore is the “kiss of death.” Downtime costs include the loss of potential and future sales as consumers who can’t find what they want at your website will head elsewhere. Even for sites not dedicated to e-commerce downtime costs can add up quickly. Loss of production because employees can’t access data portals, tools, and apps are an unrecoverable cost.

The best approach to avoid downtime losses is a proactive one. Using SiteUptime Monitoring and integrating our data with your own instant-response plan allows you to minimize website downtimes.

Information is power. Our API system allows you to gather all the information you need in the format you want. Essential staff can be notified immediately when action needs to be taken and quickly review data using your business’s dashboard.

By integrating communications and information across our platform and yours you can get back up and running fast. Additionally, the option to download and integrate data allows you to identify trends and weaknesses across domains.

If you aren’t already a Standard or Pro User, now is the time to enroll. Start monitoring smarter with SiteUptime’s API 2.0.

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What to Include in Your Internet Security Policy

policies procedures bindersWhether you’re just launching your new enterprise or you’ve been in business for a while, you’ve probably outlined a set of policies and procedures designed to ensure the safety of employees, foster a welcoming workplace, and ensure efficiency in operations. Now you need to consider that modern business is conducted not only in board rooms and cubicles, but in virtual space as well.

It is therefore imperative to create an internet security policy to complement your other operational policies and procedures. Of course, such policies are still in their relative infancy.  With new threats popping up all the time you may feel some anxiety about your ability to keep up.

The good news is that many other businesses are in the same boat.  A consensus is beginning to form concerning the best ways to develop and implement flexible internet security policies. These strategies are designed to adapt to technological advances and the evolving nature of hackers. Here are just a few key points you’ll want to include in your internet security policy.

Security Strategy

Planning your policy should begin with considering a security strategy. This could include listing your objectives when it comes to implementing and maintaining internet security. It might also cover your ethical and legal responsibilities in terms of privacy laws meant to protect customers and employees.

Your policy should also include the variety of systems you use that operate online. Note how to protect each one with relevant security software and employee usage guidelines. Detailing these points will help you determine the course of your internet security policy. This way you can delve deeper into pertinent issues like which software to purchase, how much to spend, and how to train employees to do their part.

Specific Programs

You may need some professional guidance when it comes to planning your internet security policy.  If your business uses specialized software or equipment, your policy should include proper procedures pertaining to each specific system, network, and program you utilize. Naturally, this portion of your policy may change over time as you implement new software and systems.

It might seem like overkill to list specifications for hardware and software. However, if you expect employees to properly utilize these systems as part of their job, they need to understand potential risk factors so they can behave appropriately and keep your online operations secure.


Compartmentalization is a great way to increase the level of security for confidential data. For example, everyone in the company might need access to an employee directory, but you may limit access to financial records to only your finance and executive team.

While you may want to foster transparency and openness, you don’t necessarily want all of your employees to be privy to executive planning and communications.  You also can’t allow unfettered access to sensitive customer data like credit card or social security numbers. By compartmentalizing and setting up a system of authorizations for different positions, you can help to protect your company and your customers.

Don’t forget to include behavioral information in your policy as well. You need to make it clear that employees are not to share access with one another or with outsiders and that they will face penalties for doing so.

Password and Network Policies

Some of your internet security policy will focus on the technical elements of securing your online operations. The rest will pertain to employee behavior as a means of teaching workers how to behave in a manner that helps to protect the company.

Your employees no doubt have passwords to access computers, accounts, networks, and data. Your password policy should provide clear rules and regulations regarding how to access resources and how password usage works.

It seems almost silly in this day and age to remind employees not to share their login information with anyone, including their coworkers. Yet, it is still necessary to include this in your policies, along with protocols for password creation.

You also need to train employees to operate in a careful manner when it comes to email and other network usage. Some of the most common ways hackers gain access to company data involves employee error. This includes the use of weak passwords and blunders like clicking spammy links, visiting dangerous websites, or downloading files that contain viruses, spyware, or malware.

Expectations and Penalties

Employees need to understand what you expect of them when it comes to internet security. It is also important that they understand the consequences, to the company and to themselves, should they fail to act appropriately. Irresponsible behavior could result in a devastating data breach. Spell out penalties associated with such failures so that workers have ample motivation to follow your internet security policy.

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How to Train Employees to Safeguard Against Hackers

employee training puzzle pieceHackers can cause all kinds of problems with a business. In addition to planting viruses, worms, spyware, and more, hackers can steal sensitive customer, employee, and business data.  These criminals will use this information to hijack identities and make a profit.

One of the latest threats many businesses face comes in the form of ransomware. This is when hackers infiltrate a computer or network and take files hostage by encrypting them. Businesses that want to regain their data have to figure out how to break the encryption, which is next to impossible, pay up in the time allotted, or lose access to their information for good.

The worst part about hackers gaining entry to a business’s virtual operation is the damage they leave in their wake. Perhaps just as disconcerting is how often employees are to blame for letting hackers gain access. The best security measures in the world won’t work if employees are holding open the virtual front door for hackers.

As a result, you not only need to make sure you have appropriate cyber security in place; you also must take steps to train employees to spot threats, behave in an appropriate manner, and act as a line of defense against hackers. Here are a few things you should include in your training program.

Policies and Procedures

As a business owner you enact any number of policies and procedures designed to maintain a safe, efficient, and productive workplace. Some policies (like sexual harassment or discrimination training) curb offensive employee behavior and limit your liability.

Other policies like NDAs and non-compete clauses help to protect your business from leaks that could compromise confidential data. You also need to develop policies and procedures intended to teach employees how to safeguard against hackers.

You could, for example, enact behavioral policies that spell out how employees should use your network resources. Employees should not open emails from unknown senders or click suspicious links. Above all they should heed the advice of software warnings when they try to access dangerous websites.

Policies and procedures designed to safeguard against hacking could pertain to password protection, network usage, and even sharing information between employees. Taking the time to list your expectations and make employees aware can only help to keep your operation safe from hackers.

Strong Passwords

Cracking passwords is one common way that hackers make their way into your system.  Luckily, there is a lot you can do to ensure greater protections in this area. A good start is to select software that prompts users to create strong passwords (requiring 8-12 characters and a variety of letters, numbers, and symbols) and requires employees to change passwords regularly.

Your software shouldn’t do half of a hacker’s job for them by repopulating fields when the login information entered is incorrect. Instead of leaving the name in place when the password is wrong (alerting hackers that they have the correct name), all fields should be automatically cleared.

You also need to make it clear that there will be serious consequences if employees share passwords, even with fellow coworkers. Compartmentalization of data, authorization for access to different areas, and password protections only work if individual passwords remain confidential.

Recognizing Threats

There are many ways in which hackers can target your employees. They can attach spyware and malware to seemingly innocuous links or downloads thereby piggy-backing on other programs to gain access to your system.

Employees must be trained to spot these scams in order to avoid them. Your security software can go a long way toward protecting your company from hackers, but when employees understand potential threats and how they might contribute to the problem, there’s a much better chance all of your protective components will work together.


Even with proper training, employees can still make mistakes that open you up to hackers. The best defense is always a good offense.

Having backup protocols in place could help minimize damage if employees slip up and hackers find a way in. A monitoring service is a good place to start, but you should also have system backups in place so that you can shut everything down, lock hackers out, and revert to a recent save point so as to resume business operations post haste.

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Are Hackers the Only Threat to Your Site Uptime?

page-not-found-688965_640Every business that operates in the online arena, either solely or in concert with a brick-and-mortar establishment, fears hackers. For years, experts have warned that it’s not a matter of if, but when a company will be hacked. If it can happen to mega corporations, healthcare providers, banks, and even government entities that have the highest levels of security, it can definitely happen to the average business.

This is partially due to the fact that most businesses are woefully under-protected when it comes to internet security. Or perhaps hackers are just one step ahead. The outcome is the same – your business suffers when hackers cause site downtime and steal, corrupt, destroy, or ransom your data.

Of course, hackers are not the only cause of website downtime. Although hackers pose a real threat, there are other reasons why your website might suffer unscheduled downtime. This interruption of service will annoy customers and cost you money.

The good news is that you’re not the first business to deal with such problems and you can learn a lot from those who suffered before. Preparing yourself to recover from downtime starts with understanding potential causes and then determining how best to plan for recovery. Here are a few threats to your site uptime and what you can do to minimize them.

Web Hosts

It’s important to take your time when it comes to choosing a suitable web host. You will first want to consider the bottom line regarding rates and scalability.  Just as importantly, you want to make sure the vendor you select has a solid reputation for service. Look for a host that offers some guarantees (by way of reparations) should you suffer unscheduled downtime.

No web hosting service can guarantee 100% uptime, so if you hear this promise you should probably keep looking. However, reputable and reliable providers should warn you well in advance of scheduled downtime. A good hosting service will be available to help you address and troubleshoot issues with downtime and, in some cases, they may even back up their guarantees with a policy of repayment for any unscheduled downtime you do suffer due to problems on their end.

Traffic and Bandwidth

Business owners must always concern themselves with the bottom line if they want to run an efficient and profitable operation. In terms of bandwidth, you’ll have to try to calculate the amount of virtual traffic that is likely to come in so that you can pay for an appropriate package.

If you miscalculate and you experience more traffic than anticipated, your site could go down. This will leave visitors and patrons unable to peruse your wares and make purchases online. A web host that offers scalability will allow you to ramp up quickly should such issues arise.  However, you might want to err on the side of caution by opting for more bandwidth than you think you’ll need and then scale back if you’re not using it all.


Hackers are a definite threat to your business, but one of the most common ways for hackers to gain entry to your system is through your employees. This happens most often when employees are careless with login information. By creating weak passwords that are easy to hack or allowing others access to their login information, these employees are putting your system at risk.

Employees may also behave in an unsafe manner by visiting dangerous websites, opening emails from unknown senders, or clicking suspicious links. All of these ill-advised actions could result in hackers gaining access to your system and shutting it down from the inside out.

There are two good ways to deal with this. First, you should train your employees to behave in an appropriate manner when using company resources. Second, you should use software protections that prompts employees to create strong passwords (and update them frequently), that warn employees when they’re about to do something dangerous, that requires additional confirmations for downloads, or that outright denies access to certain online resources.

Monitoring and Alerts

If you want the best chance to minimize and address website downtime, regardless of the cause, your best bet is to hire a monitoring and maintenance service. These professionals can not only monitor your site and alert you when problems arise, but they can help you to plan for action and recovery when downtime does occur.

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5 Consequences to Reacting to Site Downtime Without a Plan

disaster plan keyboard buttonAs a business owner, you try your best to plan for the future. You start by creating a business plan that spells out your corporate goals, the products or services you’ll offer, how they fit in the marketplace and appeal to consumers, and how you plan to market them.

While you can’t plan for every contingency in business, there are a lot of potential ups and downs you can prepare for.  A flexible attitude complete with a backup plan can help you to weather most unexpected setbacks. Of course, it’s always better to anticipate the things that could go wrong to mitigate any potential damage to your company.

When it comes to site downtime, your best option is to move forward under the assumption that, at some point, you will suffer loss of service. At the very least you’re going to have to shut down your website on occasion for maintenance and repairs.

Unexpected downtime can occur for a variety of reasons. You may end up with a web host that provides spotty service. Or perhaps you didn’t anticipate the bandwidth you’d need and your site overloads as a result (one can only hope for such problems).

It’s also possible that you could come under attack from hackers looking to steal sensitive customer data or wreak havoc on your company. Regardless of what causes your site downtime, you’ll be better equipped to deal with it and get back up and running if you have a plan in place to recover from unanticipated downtime.

Failure to plan for this potential threat could lead to several undesirable consequences. Here are just a few reasons why reacting to site downtime without a plan is detrimental to your business.

1. Extended Downtime

Suppose your car breaks down on the highway. If you’ve planned ahead, you probably have a roadside assistance service in place. All you have to do is call the service for a free tow and the time you spend marooned on the road will be short.

If you failed to plan ahead, you’ll have to find phone numbers for towing services, call around to check rates and availability, and potentially spend a lot more time and money rectifying the situation. A proper plan can significantly reduce your hassle.

The same is true when your website experiences unscheduled downtime. Planning ahead might mean hiring a monitoring service to immediately alert you when downtime occurs. This way you don’t have to wait for customer complaints to start flooding in to know that your site is down.

It could also mean having software solutions or service providers in place. These services can pinpoint the problem and help you to correct it so you can get back up and running as quickly as possible. It might also mean having a system backup in place to revert to just in case you can’t access needed files.

Your plan will determine your response to unscheduled downtime. This way you can minimize damage and get your online operation back in business.

2. Wasted Money

With no plan in place when downtime occurs, your employees may have to spring into action and work overtime to find and solve the problem. This could result in paying some employees to sit idle because they can do nothing while your website is down.  Or you might end up paying some employees overtime to get your site back up – or both.

3. Lost Revenue

In addition to the added expense for labor, you are likely to lose revenue when your website experiences unexpected downtime. This could happen in a couple of ways.

If you provide an online shopping cart for patrons, they will not be able to access accounts and make purchases while your site is down. Also, new visitors to your site, upon finding it non-responsive, may elect to go to competitors, never to return. Both outcomes bode ill for your business.

4. Declined Morale

Employees may lose confidence if they see the company scrambling to solve a problem for which a plan of action should have already been in place. In addition, having to do extra work to rectify the situation because of the company’s poor planning could result in a decline in morale.

5. Damaged Reputation

If you suffer extensive or ongoing downtime issues, your professional reputation will begin to suffer. Customers may not see your company as reliable. They may complain in online reviews.

This can cause further lost revenue, loss of employees, and other problems that spell disaster for your company over time. Having a plan in place to deal with unscheduled downtime can make a world of difference.

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5 Ways Your Business Can Come to a Halt When Your Site Is Down

error page website downNot all website downtime is bad. In some cases, it’s necessary to schedule downtime in order to practice maintenance, make needed repairs, run tests, or load new content. However, this planned downtime can be disclosed to customers well in advance and you have the opportunity to redirect visitors to a temporary page that tells them when you’ll be back up and running.

Unscheduled downtime, on the other hand, does not allow you the same preparation. So when visitors seek out your site and get an error message instead of a landing page, they’re going to be understandably disappointed, or maybe even annoyed.

First-time visitors are likely to navigate away, probably never to return. Although regular customers may give you the benefit of the doubt, several unscheduled outings could ruin customer relationships you’ve worked hard to build. Then there are the problems you’ll have when search bots can’t locate your site.

In short, unplanned site downtime can be a real hassle for your business. In many ways, it can bring your operation to a crashing halt. Here are just a few examples of the impact you’re likely to feel when your website goes down.

1. Lost Sales

The biggest halt, of course, will be to online sales. When your website is down your customers can no longer access product pages or shopping carts, hence eliminating your ability to make sales.

This is a major problem for any business relying on revenue from online sales. If you have a brick-and-mortar location in addition to your online presence, it might not be such a big deal, except for the fact that downtime can impact future sales, as well. Online-only stores will find themselves in big trouble if they suffer extended or ongoing outages.

When consumers visit your site and find it unavailable, there is a great likelihood that they’ll never return. They’ll go to competitors whose sites they can access. You will not only lose sales in the immediate sense, but potentially in the long-term, as well.

2. Loss of Service

Depending on your business, customers or clients may rely on your web portal for certain services, or you may need online operations to carry out business. Downtime could throw a wrench in your ability to provide services for your clients.

Just consider what happens when an airline’s website goes down. Not only do they lose the ability to sell tickets, in some cases, but customers may not be able to check in, track flights, or fly at all, even if they’ve already purchased their tickets. The negative impact this has on a business goes far beyond the loss of a single sale, for example.

3. Reallocation of Assets

If your business relies heavily on online operations, your staff may be unable to perform their duties until your site is back up and running. Even those that can continue working might be reallocated to work on finding solutions for the downtime or to deal with angry customers.

4. Reduced Rankings

In addition to raising the ire of consumers, website downtime can be a black mark with the bots search engines like Google use to ensure that their customers get the best possible recommendations for their search queries. In other words, if Google finds your website down too often or for too long at one time, you will likely be penalized.

This could include reducing your rankings for certain searches. In extreme cases you could even be de-listed. This type of damage could take months to repair, ruining all the hard work you did to achieve stellar rankings and leaving you without access to search traffic in the meantime.

5. Damage to Reputation

The long-term effects of site downtime can be difficult to gauge, but it’s fairly likely that the ripple effects won’t be fully realized for quite some time. One major issue you may come up against is damage to your reputation resulting from extensive or frequent downtime.

Positive customer reviews can really boost your reputation, but negative ones can do just the opposite, and if your site is unavailable, inconveniencing customers, negative reviews are sure to follow. In order to undo this damage, you’ll have to find ways to change the opinion of reviewers. Otherwise prospective customers will be tainted by the bad reviews, which could potentially halt your business for good.

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How Google Accounts for Your Website’s Downtime

google-76517_640Google continues to dominate the search market, claiming somewhere in the neighborhood of two-thirds of all search traffic on the web (with Bing/Yahoo coming in at a distant second). This is great news for the company that spends its time and money on innovations like the self-driving car and a loony project to create a literal sky-net of balloons floating in the stratosphere to relay satellite signals and provide internet access to the entire planet (like a benevolent Big Brother).

For businesses trying to make an impact in the online arena, this merely means pandering to Google’s every whim and algorithm update. It wasn’t that long ago, really, that monthly indexing by search bots sent webmasters into paroxysms of fear. If a web crawler found a site unavailable, the reaction was immediate and difficult to reverse.

Eventually Google realized the unfair demand being placed on businesses…or maybe they changed their algorithms and practices for an entirely different reason and the result was a happy byproduct for online businesses. Either way, an increase in Google’s web crawling activity a couple of years back gave websites a little more latitude concerning downtime.

So what can businesses expect these days? How does Google now account for website downtime? Here are a few things you should know.

Google’s Perspective

If you want to know how Google will react to website downtime you need to try to look at it from their point of view. They don’t know why your site is down, and they don’t care. To them it doesn’t matter if you’re practicing regular maintenance, you’re having server issues, or you picked a subpar web host.

Google is running a business, like you, and they want to provide the best possible service to their customers. To this end they’ve set up complex algorithms designed to reward the highest-quality content by placing it at the top of the list for related search queries.

If your website is unavailable, by definition you cannot be the best option for customers seeking information or access to goods and services. This is the perspective Google has to adopt in order to keep their own customers happy.

How Much Downtime is Too Much?

According to a 2014 missive from Google’s preeminent engineer, Matt Cutts, websites will no longer be penalized for short periods of downtime. Being down for a few hours or a day when web crawlers come to call is okay. Letting your website take a 2-week vacation – not so much.

Of course, there’s a pretty wide gray area between one day and two weeks. Here’s what happens. When one of Google’s bots checks your site and finds it down, the crawler will return within 24 hours to check back, and continue checking. If you’re having sporadic downtime and the bot finds you up and running the second time around, you won’t be penalized.

If, on the other hand, your site remains unavailable after repeated attempts, the bots will be unable to index your site, which will produce increasingly negative consequences for your rankings.

Possible Repercussions

When your website is down and Google’s bots can’t access it, you’re going to find that a couple of things happen in short order. First, you’ll get a notice from Google telling you that your site is inaccessible. Then your rankings will plummet as repeated attempts to access your website fail.

This could be temporary. If you’re able to get your site back up and running in short order, say within a couple of days, you should be able to rebound rather quickly. Google is not trying to penalize legitimately good websites that are suffering temporary issues with downtime.

On the other hand, extended or repeated bouts of downtime can have cumulative results that ultimately end with your website being delisted. Coming back from that snafu is no picnic.

Regaining Your Footing

If you have proper monitoring software in place you’ll recover from unplanned downtime pretty quickly, and if you are able to pinpoint and address the issue promptly you’ll suffer no consequences where Google is concerned. Extended downtime is another matter. So what can you do if Google strips you of your ranking and ultimately ousts you from the index?

Unfortunately, you may be stuck clawing your way back to the top of the heap. Regaining your former rankings after extensive downtime could take months of work, especially if Google has gone so far as to remove your site from their index. If the worst comes to pass and your site is de-listed, you’ll simply have to roll up your sleeves and virtually start over.

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