Are Hackers Still A Thing?
Yes, there is a real threat online. Hackers are always one step ahead of Google and your website software. It's a total myth that updating your website platform and malware software you install on your computer will prevent 100% of hacks.
To Trust or Not To Trust
Here's something I hear from small businesses all the time: My web developer says they have hacking under control. How can I check this? Just as you would not blindly trust your accountant, you should not blindly trust your web developer. Set aside time each month or at least each quarter to ask important questions about your website's safety.
- Make sure you have access to backend of website
- Login to Webmaster Tools each week to look for errors or warnings - mostly in red or very obvious
- Try the Google Transparency Tool
- Ask your developer to keep your web platform and plugins updated
What Can You Do As A Small Business Owner?
- Install preventative software on your computer
- Do not share passwords - try giving employees manager access with their own account logins if possible.
- Create strong passwords
- Do not lose passwords - try a software like Lastpass.com
- Make sure you have an SSL certificate
- Visit your site often to check the links work correctly
- Login to Google Analytics and check for suspicious pages such as porn sites.
- Go to Google. Type in this "Site:https://www.yourwebsite.com/ to check all the pages on your website.
- Have a site backup
Hacks That Are Popular Now
- Changed site content
- Redirects to different websites
- Extra pages added under your website URL (lots of porn)
- Offerings of unrelated or unauthorized downloads
- Your website links redirect to blank or error pages
- Pop-ups for all types of ads disguised as call to action buttons to collect information on your customers
Stay On Top Of It
You don't have to be an expert in SEO or website design to keep on top of your website. Regularly checking your Google Analytics, Webmaster tools, logging into your website and a few other tools goes a long way. A website can't just be a set it and forget it type of thing. You want it to work for you and work well. Taking precautions and having a game plan in case you do get hacked will put you ahead when facing a crisis. Just like it's great to have an emergency handyman in your phone in case the heat goes out or your toilet explodes in the middle of the night, having a game plan for your website safety will be worth it if you ever get hackers disrupting your day.