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Website Security and Prevention

Please Note: This article includes links to sources online about website security, that pertain specifically to individual programs like WordPress and Microsoft Windows. While it is not possible for us to publish every security article for every program, a search on the web regarding security and updates for the software you run should return numerous results.

Website security is a topic on a lot of users’ minds. If you search the web for How to hack a website, you will literally get millions of hits. Taking the necessary precautions now with your website will help prevent a big headache later on in the event anything does happen to your website.

**Note: If you suspect you have already been hacked, please see our article on recovering from a hack

Backing up your account

We’re starting this article on website security with an introduction to backups. Making regular backups of your website is very important, and is one of the best recommendations that we can provide. cPanel includes an easy backup utility that you can use to backup your entire website, including your databases, email, and files. For more information on backing up your website, please view our article on how to create cPanel backups.
There are numerous techniques that hackers can use to compromise a website, however the reasons these techniques are successful are usually because of:
  1. Vulnerabilities in the software you run on your hosting account
  2. Vulnerabilities in software that you run on your local computer

Vulnerabilities in the software you run on your hosting account

Most software that users run on their website is Open Source software. Open Source software is software that is freely available for anyone to download and use. For example, both Joomla and WordPress are very commonly used, and they are both Open Source. One of the drawbacks of Open Source software is that anyone can download and view the software’s code, which makes it easier for hackers to find ways to compromise a website. The authors of such Open Source Applications release updates and security patches on a regular basis. Please be sure that you are running the most current versions of any third party software on your website, as the most current version is usually the most secure version as well. The following is a list of links, for WordPress and Joomla specifically, that point to the software’s own information about security:

WordPress – How to Keep WordPress Secure
10 Ways to Secure WordPress – Hardening WordPress – Upgrading WordPress

Joomla – Joomla Security Center The Joomla Security Center includes information about their latest security news, their latest security articles, and more information in general about the Joomla Security Strike Team. – Upgrade Instructions

Vulnerable plugins

Keeping any third party plugins / extensions on your website up to date is just as important as keeping the core software up to date as well. We’ve compiled a short list of links for more information about this topic as well.

Joomla – Vulnerable Extensions List

WordPress – Hardening WordPress – Plugins

Did you code and develop your website yourself?

If you coded your own website, knowing common techniques hackers use can help you take steps to make your own software more secure. The following is a list of links to articles on Wikipedia that provide more information on common hacking techniques:

Please Note: Although direct coding support is out of the realm of what our Support Department can assist with, a search on the web regarding the topics below will return many results that include how to update your code and take preventive measures.

Common ways websites are hacked

SQL injection
Code injection
Cross-site scripting (XSS)
Remote File Inclusion

Vulnerabilities in software that you run on your local computer

Not only do Open Source applications like Joomla and WordPress release updates on a regular basis, but so do companies such as Microsoft and Adobe. The following is a list of links to major software titles and information about the security updates they have available:

Adobe Security bulletins and advisories For example, Adobe offers many popular products, such as: Adobe Reader – Adobe Dreamweaver – Adobe GoLive –

Microsoft – Windows Update Microsoft provides Windows Update to help keep your copy of Windows and other Microsoft products up to date. Be sure that your version of Windows has installed the most up to date security patches available.

Apple – Apple security updates Apple is well known for the security and stability that their products come with, but even Apple has to releases security updates. Please see the link above for more information regarding Apple security updates.
The IT industry is changing every day, especially when it comes to the Internet and security. Keeping your software up to date, both on your hosting account and on your own computer is one of the best ways to secure your website. You should also regularly scan your computer for viruses and malware, maintain regular backups of your website, and be sure to contact the InMotion Hosting Support Department if you have any additional questions.

Written on August 25, 2011 by Brad Markle