Think you’re safe from hacking or your business is too small for hackers to target? You might want to think again.

According to Google’s 2016 Webspam Report, website hacking is up 32% since 2015. And Google sent out over nine million messages to site owners in 2016 regarding spam issues on their websites. For business owners who rely on their websites to drive revenue (and what business doesn’t?), hacking is a growing problem – with potentially devastating implications! And it’s no longer a question of if you’ll be hacked, it’s more a question of when – and how fast you can recover.

I get calls all the time from business owners and organizations who mistakenly believe they’re not at risk. After all, why would hackers go after them when there are much bigger targets? What they don’t realize is that they may actually be more of a target simply because they’re smaller.

Is Your Business Website Vulnerable To Hacking?

The way your website is designed and managed is a factor in terms of vulnerability. WordPress is a popular choice for businesses these days. And it’s great. It’s easy to use and make changes to, but it’s also the most hacked platform out there – not because it’s an inferior product, but because of its popularity and the fact that business owners who manage their own websites often aren’t educated on how to protect their sites from security threats.

Even if you’ve had your WordPress site designed by a professional web designer who puts safeguards in place, you can’t just set it up and let it run. Proactively managing security on your website is paramount. Having a good firewall in place, updating firewalls and plugins to guard against the latest threats, scanning regularly for malicious code, and having multiple backups of your site are key. Being able to restore your website from those backups quickly and efficiently is also key, which means you need to be alert for the signs that there’s a problem.

Even if you manage to stay on top of all that, hackers are becoming more and more sophisticated. As fast as new patches and firewalls go up, they’re working on how to get around or through them. Once they’re in, they can pretty much do what they want. All it takes is one little piece of malicious code to derail everything you’ve worked so hard for.

Why Do Hackers Hack? Web Design by Knight

Why Do Hackers Hack? Web Design by Knight

Why Do Hackers Hack?

People always ask me, “Why do they do it?” The answer is simple. Hacking is a money-maker for them. It’s not that they’re specifically targeting you or your business. They’re just throwing it out there and casting a wide net. They target vulnerabilities and whatever sticks, sticks. You had a vulnerability, you got caught in their net, and they will take advantage of that to wreak as much havoc as they can.

Business Website Hacking Recovery

The hack itself is only part of the problem, though. Recovering from a hack costs a lot in terms of time, money, and lost revenue for businesses! Once you’ve been hacked, there’s a good chance your site will be blacklisted. There are 103+ blacklists out there. And each one is independently owned and operated, so to speak. Getting off blacklists is a top priority when hacking occurs, but most business owners may not even know they exist.

This is a case where what you don’t know can really hurt you – and your business. Being blacklisted is serious. It will cause you to disappear from Google rankings, which is something business owners strive for and rely on to help their clients find them. This causes a loss of revenue most businesses can’t afford. And it takes time, effort and knowledge of how it all works to fix.

Once you’ve realized there’s a problem, found and fixed the malicious code, you have to submit to each blacklist independently, through their own processes, in the format they require, to get off each list. That process can take 2-4 weeks per blacklist. Unfortunately, these lists feed off each other and repopulate. So, if you get on one, and you don’t acknowledge it, you could end up on a lot of lists. If you don’t get off them in a timely manner, you may just have to start over. And if you submit requests too many times, they may not un-blacklist you at all.

Identifying hacking quickly can minimize the damage. If it’s caught quickly, you might be able to avoid being blacklisted. But that requires vigilance and knowing what to watch for. The better strategy is to not let hacking derail you in the first place.

Defending Hacking

The best defense is a strong offense when it comes to protecting your website, your reputation, and your livelihood. Be proactive. Invest in prevention and protection. It costs far less to pay someone to secure and manage a website for an entire year than it does to fix the problem when your website gets hacked.

It’s not enough to build a site, put it out there, and let it ride anymore. You have to proactively guard against the growing risks. Don’t hesitate to hire someone who can manage those risks for you, especially if you don’t have the time or know-how to do it yourself. It’s just too important! Just remember, the potential for losing new business or the trust of the people who know and work with you is huge. You can’t put a price on that.

If you’d like to know more about protecting your website and livelihood from hacking, contact me. I know the risks and how to mitigate them. I’d be happy to discuss a plan for keeping your business protected!

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