Seven Steps To Better Protect Your Firearms Related Website
There are many bad actors on the Internet today, some even state sponsored, who seek to steal data, send spam emails, damage reputations, or simply disrupt your life or business. The fact is, hackers and spammers are constantly searching for ways to exploit software bugs or other areas of digital vulnerability. And if they find what they’re looking for, they can use it to gain access to your website files and wreak havoc.
Therefore, it is important to take steps to better protect your website, whether personal or business related, after it is built. Keep in mind, even if you (or your webmaster) do everything right, your website might still get hacked. Unfortunately, the digital world, is much like the physical world, there is no way to absolutely safeguard you from all harm.
Don’t despair, however. There are steps you can take to help minimize risk of attack against your website. Below are seven steps we recommend to help you better protect your firearms-related website.
Moderate Your Site
Moderate any content that can be added to your website by someone else, particularly the public (for example, allowing the public to comment on articles, blog posts, etc). Trolls may attempt to post content for the express purpose of making your website violate a vendor’s terms of service. Promptly remove anything that could be considered illegal or in violation of the hosting company’s terms.
Regularly Backup Your Site
Do not rely solely on your website hosting company! YOU should make regular backups of your website and store those backups someplace safe. Note that some or all your website content may be stored separately in a back-end database. If your website does use a database, you may need to backup BOTH your website files and your database. Databases typically have their own backup method.
Regularly Upgrade and Patch Your Site
If you are using a Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress, make sure to regularly maintenance your CMS by installing the latest upgrades and security patches to the CMS, it's theme(s), and any plugins. Forgetting to update all three can increase the risk of your website being hacked.
IMPORTANT: Always backup your website BEFORE applying new upgrades or patches. Some CMS, theme or plugin updates can actually break your website design.
If your website allows the public to submit information to you via a web-enabled form, be sure to enable CAPTCHA. CAPTCHA is an acronym for trying to prove that a human, not a computer bot, is attempting to fill-in and submit your form. Without CAPTCHA, spammers may use robots to send spam emails through your form.
Use Third-Party Security
There are a number of fee-based 3rd party security solutions and website plugins that can help to improve your website’s security. Some scan for hack attempts, others automatically block too many incorrect login hack attempts. Others provide various levels of additional security and/or email notification that you can tailor to the needs of your website. It really comes down to what you can afford to spend. On average, the more you spend, the more security options you will have.
Hire a WebMaster
Even if you insist on managing your website yourself, you should always know a webmaster that you can hire when needed. Your time is probably stretched thin between work, family and creating new content for your website. You probably don’t have time to learn all the details regarding Linux web servers, website security, and how WordPress themes can sometimes break when upgrading between major releases of WordPress.
If you are a business, we strongly recommend outsourcing your website and paying for ongoing website maintenance so that you can focus on managing and growing your business rather than trying to fight technical problems yourself.
Find a Second Data Center
Pre-screen a second firearms-friendly data center where your website can be hosted should your current data center (website hosting company) become firearm unfriendly. Screen the secondary vendor regarding their current stance on firearm related websites and ask how much warning they would give if they were to ever become firearm unfriendly. Keep that information on file, however, remember that the second company could have changed their terms of service since you last contacted them.