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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

How Secure Is YOUR Website?

When you start a business, your primary objective, typically is to profit from your time, talent and experience. A few years ago, when I started FLXWebDesign, I did so with that same mindset—hoping to turn years of hardknocks experience into something spendable. Being that nothing is as easy as it appears, it wasn’t long before it became painfully apparent that there were some essential chunks of data missing from my resumé.

Meeting The Real Scrooge

A few days before Christmas, 2014, I was chatting with a client about some simple updates he needed made to his website. During the conversation, Rick (we’ll call him that because that’s his name) casually mentioned that a mysterious banner ad had started appearing on his site. I monitored the site for several hours, but saw no banner.

A few days later, during a similar call, Rick again mentioned the strange banner that appears randomly at the top of his home page. I searched through all the plug-ins and widgets and found nothing that could be causing such a gremlin.

Knowing Rick to be of sound mind, I decided to run a security scan on his site and, sure enough, found that malware had been inserted into numerous files. At the time, I knew little about malware, brute-force attacks and other nasty hacks—it took some time, and ended up costing Rick a couple of hundred bucks to have it properly cleaned up.

The worst part of this incident, however, was that his hosting company was no help at all. When I reported the problem, they simply ran another scan, confirmed what I already knew, and took him off-line. The fact that this was the site he used to run his business was of no concern to them. Their queue time for chat or phone support was insulting. What should have been solved in a few hours, took over 3 days. It was a total mess and something you do not want to experience.

Secure Your Site

While most of what I do falls under the heading of designing websites, my true focus is on making my client’s digital life as enjoyable and painless as possible. Before I send them the finally bill, I want them to have a site that is trouble-free and easy to manage. While this sounds all warm, fuzzy and caring, the truth is, it’s really all about me. Frankly, I never want to deal with a hacked website ever again—it’s time consuming, stressful, expensive and takes me away from more profitable activities. So in the aftermath of the story told, I started looking for a hosting company that takes security and client satisfaction seriously.

My Recommendation…

While attending a WordCamp in the fall of 2014, I discovered a hosting company you’ve probably never heard of called Flywheel. I spoke at length with the owners who convinced me to give them a try.  Two years later and I now have over a dozen clients hosting there and have yet to encounter a single glitch. Unlike typical hosting companies that are designed for the average person who needs a quick and dirty website, Flywheel is build around the needs of designers and agencies using WordPress, so you get premium support and security in every package.

To help you get started, they will provide a 14 day free demo site so you can build offline and launch when ready. If you have an existing WordPress website, they will migrate it to their servers for free. Flywheel provides built-in caching so your site loads fast, they monitor for malware and automatically back up your site every night—plus, they keep your WordPress core up to date and  more—all for as little as $15 a month.

So, while you may only be looking to host a single site, Flywheel makes it possible for you to have the same level of security and support as those of who do this for living. If you are building with WordPress (which now is at the core of over 25% of all sites) you really should check them out.

Note: Flywheel is a hosting company. They do not (currently) offer email support or domain registration. If you need to register a domain and set-up email there are numerous sources such as GoDaddy, HostMonster, and BlueHost. Personally, I have been very happy with iPage—again, it’s all about the service.

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