We get this question a lot! Most people think once you build a website, you can just forget about it. The truth is it requires maintenance much like a piece of property. Let’s say you own a home. You can’t just leave it and not do any maintenance or it will quickly fall into disrepair. You need to mow the lawn, clean the gutters, make sure the hot water heater is working, clean the bathrooms, and vacuum among other things. A website is the same way! The next question you probably have is, “What do I need to do to maintain my website?” I like to break down website maintenance into two main categories: website security and website updates.
The internet is a really bad neighborhood. Websites large and small are constantly under siege by hackers. The average website will be the target of hundreds of attempted intrusions every single day. Bigger and more valuable targets will be targeted hundreds of thousands or millions of times a day. With so many attacks happening every day against every website, you need to make sure your website is as secure as possible. One person getting past your website’s defenses can bring down your website, destroy your rankings in the search engines, and cause damage for years to come. As such, it is best to avoid being a victim by having an active and up-to-date system of protections in place.
Part of this is having an anti-virus setup for your website which scans your website for vulnerabilities and files that contain malware. It operates in the same way that your computer’s anti-virus software operates, except it runs on your website instead. Most content management systems have some sort of anti-malware addon which you can download and run on your website. We are big fans of the WordPress anti-malware plugin, Wordfence.
In addition to your anti-malware system, you will also want a firewall to block attempted intrusions. For example, if a computer tries to access your website and enters the wrong password 5 times within a certain time frame, the firewall will block that computer from accessing your website again. It will also have access to a list of IP addresses from which attempted intrusions come from and automatically block those as well. These systems are designed to prevent hackers from taking advantage of loopholes in your website, which leads us to website updates!
Making sure the architecture on which your website is built is up-to-date is imperative to ensuring your website is secure and the second half of website maintenance. There is no system that is 100% secure, which is why they are constantly being updated. I’ll just WordPress as an example, because it is a platform I am very familiar with. WordPress regularly issues updates to the CMS which contain bug fixes. These fixes close loopholes that give hackers an opportunity to break into your website. The plugins that are running on your website are also regularly updated for the same reason. If you are running an old version of WordPress and not regularly updating it, you are more likely to be the victim of an attack. Hackers run sophisticated programs to seek out website running on older platforms with specific vulnerabilities so they can take advantage of it. If you are not updating your platform, hackers are actively seeking you out in order to take advantage of your old platform!
Every website needs maintenance whether you are going to do it on your own or outsource it to a company that specializes in website services like ours. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and it is doubly true with regard to website maintenance. Once your website is compromised, it can be a very long and expensive journey to get your website back to normal.