Updated July 2, 2011Doc Sheldon
Those of us that have had our sites hacked or suffer a catastrophic failure before can appreciate how important it is to keep an eye on the status of our websites. For instance, last night, I looked at a post from a couple of weeks ago, and found that everything after the 2nd paragraph had been deleted.Thank goodness for Google cache!
When I put up a new post, I always check it again after it goes live, just to be sure that nothing went haywire since I last saw it in my backend. But I got an alert on a monitoring service that caused me to check some recent posts, and I found this problem. The alert was unrelated, but if I hadn’t received it, I might never have noticed the issue.
I got hacked a couple of times earlier this year, too. And on one of those occasions, I didn’t even notice it until five days after it happened. Hackers can do a lot of damage in five days! I was fortunate, and with the assistance of a very savvy friend, got control of my site back fairly quickly.
But it woke me up to the necessity of keeping a closer eye on things.
So I did a little digging, and found a service that would monitor my site continuously and email me immediately of any issues it found. Coupled with my AVH First Defense Against Spam plugin, virtually nothing can change on my site without me being made aware of it.
That service is Website Defender. It’s free, will work on most sites and will send you alerts highlighting critical, medium, low and informational issues that have been noticed by its scan of your site. I highly recommend you check it out.
Their blog also offers some excellent tips on keeping your site secure. I subscribe to their blog via email, and it nearly always offers a worthwhile takeaway.
If you’re using a WordPress platform, I also highly recommend the AVH plugin above. It ties in with StopForumSpam.com, as well as your local blacklist, and gives you ongoing reports of its findings, as well. It has saved me numerous times.
EDIT: On July 6th, while troubleshooting a problem here on my site, I found that the problem could be corrected by turning off Website Defender. Since the WD interface is strictly passive, I can’t see how it could really be the cause of my issue, but I’m going to continue investigating, and will post more information here when I have it.