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If you make Websites, you probably take online security seriously. In fact, there’s a good chance you follow the same security precautions as other online businesspeople – changing passwords regularly, paying contractors with PayPal, using e-commerce vendors that provide secure logins, etc. This world is not as friendly as it seems, and there are people out there who want to ruin your day.

But as a designer, you’re kind of a special case. You have additional security-related concerns that many other Web-based professionals need not lose sleep over.

If that comes as a surprise, know that you’re probably not alone. After all, it’s a lot easier to neglect the measures necessary to protect yourself than it is to actually take them. And knowing what those measures are is the first step toward securing your work and protecting your business from harm. Here are four tips that will help you stay safe:

1. Protect your cPanel directories.

How secure is your Website’s administration area? For that matter, how secure are your clients’ sites?

To protect your public_home directories, you should set up a password in cPanel that anyone will need to enter upon trying to access them. If that sounds hard, it’s not. If you’re even slightly familiar with cPanel (and you are, right?), you can increase your online security ten-fold in a matter of seconds. Just follow these steps:

• Navigate to the “Security” module and locate the “Password Protect Directories” item.
• Click on it, and then click “Go” when the dialog box appears.
• Find the root folder for your site (typically “public_html” or something similar).
• Add a password and a user so that you’ll be prompted the next tine you try to modify that directory.

It’s an easy fix to a frequently exploited vulnerability on your websites. And since it only takes a moment to patch, there’s little excuse to stop what you’re doing right now and fix it.

2. Back up your Websites – daily!

For the average Joe PC owner, hard drive backups only need to happen once a week or so. And since he doesn’t have a Website, learning how to back one of those up is the least of his concerns.

But you’re not a casual computer and Internet user – you’re one of the people who makes the Internet work. Weekly backups just aren’t an option if you’re modifying, overhauling, and tweaking several Web properties on a daily basis. Back up your sites every day, and maybe every twelve hours if you think you need it.

Your CMS likely makes it easy to perform daily backups. Take advantage of that functionality, and quit living in fear of database failures or security breaches.

Here are some reasons you should do this:

  • It’s not your web host’s responsibility to make back ups available to you.
  • Peace of mind.
  • You need to be ready to react quickly.
  • It’s your protection against viruses.
  • Storing the original development site isnt’ enough.

3. Scan your sites for malware.

If you’ve ever been hacked, you probably already do this.

However, if you have yet to experience the displeasure of fixing a site hack, consider yourself fortunate. Then download an app that will detect unauthorized modifications to your sites. It should also check for changes to your DNS, SSL, and Whois certificates.

There are several tools like this available, and many are free.

4. Consider an advanced security solution.

At larger design firms, basic security issues transcend simple fixes like site backups and directory passwords. They’ve already got those things down.

It’s the bigger issues that matter – things like enterprise fraud detection and theft prevention. Although nobody likes to admit it, employees do steal from their employers. It’s not always money – sometimes it’s just information – but it happens.

If you’re a big enough design shop to actually worry about this kind of fraud, investing in an advanced security solution could save your firm from some serious headaches. It could also save your bottom line.

So don’t take security lightly, even if you only have a few sites. It’s easy to feel invincible when you have never experienced a problem, but security threats are real. Protecting your digital assets should be an imperative.

Your business’s future is worth it, isn’t it?

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Posted by Adam Green

Adam Green is a freelance copywriter and digital marketing specialist. He works with Web designers, inbound marketing professionals and small to midsize businesses to get great results on the Web. Follow him on Twitter @IAmAdamGreen.

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