Idean joins the HD team as our tech writer.
Since earning his degree in Liberal Arts and Entrepreneurship from the University of Iowa (Go Hawks!), Idean has spent the last nine years working in various Digital Marketing and IT roles at Universal Music Group, Participant Media, and Apollo Group, Inc. When he’s not freelancing as a marketer and providing IT support to small business in the LA area, he writes blogs for various startups and companies. Idean’s dream is to one day be an entrepreneur and escape the confines of the cubicle!
During his free time, Idean loves to catch NBA games, shoot hoops, go hiking in the scenic Santa Monica Mountains and improve his Photoshop skills. As a member of the Host Duplex blog team, Idean will work closely together with the core staff to help explore and explain a variety of topics in the cloud hosting industry. More to come soon!
Before we dive in and get down to the nitty-gritty, let’s begin with some basic background information on firewalls (feel free to bypass this part if you’ve already done your homework). At the most basic level, A Firewall is a software and/or hardware feature that acts as a shield or ‘wall’ between your website and all incoming traffic. Think of it as the space between your home router and the internet. In a typical home internet setup, the wireless router serves as the hardware firewall while your computer’s and/or device’s standard operating system (Windows, Mac OSX, etc.) serves as the software component of the firewall.
Firewalls protect you from the bad guys by using customized filters. These filters are a basic set of rules that are defined in order of prioritization. This is important because as a company, you only want authorized and safe traffic accessing your website. On top of utilizing best practices such as using secure passwords and frequently changing them, you also need to learn about the general importance and the necessity of a firewall. (I wrote a recent blog post about a similar security topic called ‘Two-Factor Authentication’ that you can read about if you’re intrigued). So, in a nutshell, a firewall is that extra important security layer that your website and computer needs. For this blog entry, I’ll be focusing on what is known as ‘web application firewalls’ or WAF’s for short.
WAF’s are more of a recent introduction to the WordPress ecosystem. WAF’s work hard to counter cyber attacks from malicious hackers who are seeking to steal highly sensitive information. To keep things easy peasy, all you need to remember is that WAF’s exist to protect your WordPress website!
Why Do I Need a Web Application Firewall For My WordPress Site?
Historically speaking, 2017 holds the RECORD for the total number of cyber attacks in terms of security breaches, ransomware, and exploits according to an annual global security report issued by AppRiver. You very well may have heard about the infamous Equifax nightmare that resulted in possibly 143 million people having their highly sensitive personal data (social security and driver’s license numbers) compromised. Ok, Idean, that all sounds fine and dandy but do I really need a web application firewall for my WordPress site? I mean, nothing has happened so far and all this is just so companies can make an extra buck right? Well, my friend, do I have some interesting and frankly scary data to share with you. Did you know that among all CMS (content management system) platforms, WordPress gets hacked the most? Furthermore, there are up to 90,000 attacks per minute on WordPress sites according to Wordfence, the creator of a popular WordPress plugin. Unfortunately, this is naturally the price we consumers pay for the ‘user-friendly’ WordPress CMS.
How A Web Application Firewall Works and What We Offer
WAF’s are configured to either (or in some hybrid cases both) a) allow certain traffic or to b) block traffic. Whitelisting, or allowing certain data from a pool of accepted IP addresses ensures that the incoming traffic to your website is deemed ‘safe.’ On the other hand, blacklisting certain IP addresses will ensure that malicious data will not access your website and is designed to thwart anything that can slightly resemble a cyber attack. In regards to WAF’s, all these configurations are carefully executed and set at the software level for WordPress sites.
At HD, we understand how important security is for your WordPress site. No different than a 24-hour state of the art home security system that protects your property, our highly skilled security experts strive to go above and beyond to ensure stability and thwart attacks before they happen. Just how a home burglary happens approximately every 13 seconds, hackers across the world are hard at work attempting to steal your precious information and data. These days, you need more than a full-grown Rottweiler on the premises to protect your valuable belongings! At an age where we’ve seen notorious attacks like the Equifax breach, a hosting provider that provides 24/7 security over your website is a must and not just a ‘nice to have.’ At HD, we offer a standard WAF that we use for all clients out of the box as well as a highly advanced WAF for our premium plans (in partnership with the good folks at Sucuri). HD’s state of the art DuplexGuard™ security will keep you safe and protect you from 99% of attacks while also preventing them from happening. As always, we’re here to answer any of your questions so please, don’t be a stranger!
HD is beyond thrilled to announce that we’ll be joining an incredible group of sponsors for this year’s WordCamp conference in Sunny San Diego! For those who haven’t attended in the past, WordCamp is a yearly conference covering all things WordPress related. WordCamp SD will be held at San Diego City College on April 14-15th. (Don’t stress though, the venue is conveniently located near the San Diego Airport with there’s ample parking in the area).
This year’s speakers include an outstanding lineup of WordPress developers, designers, and business leaders alike. WordPress topics from the event schedule that caught our eyes include; ‘The Hidden Features of WordPress’ and ‘Making Security Make Sense to Users & Clients.” The HD crew is particularly looking forward to all things security/privacy related, along with networking with the WordCamp community…but who isn’t right?!
You can follow the conversation on social media by using the official WordCamp San Diego 2018 Hashtag #WCSD and be sure to reach out or tag us on Twitter (@HostDuplex) during the conference.
Purchase your tickets today, book your hotel and come nerd out with us in San Diego!
2FA, better known as ‘Two Factor Authentication’ has been a hot phrase in the tech world for the better half of the decade. We’ve all experienced a single factor authentication anytime we’ve simply logged in with a username and password alone. However, as more online businesses and services look to improve user security when it comes to protecting logins for consumers, 2FA has become a widely accepted security protocol these last 5 years or so. You may not always encounter 2FA (sites like Google and online banks have offered it for longer) but chances are you already have. iCloud, for example, is one popular service that utilizes 2FA and that I personally use regularly.
Theoretically, 2FA essentially adds an extra layer of authentication to a users standard login procedure with the end goal of verifying your identity and making it more difficult for hackers to access your account(s). There are three basic ways to identify yourself. 2FA requires two out of the following three:
- One Time Code
- Finger Print (think Apple’s Touch ID)
By combining your password with just one of these extra factors, attackers can’t access your account EVEN if they have your password from the getgo. For example, in a scenario where you’re prompted to verify your identity with a one-time passcode via your phone’s SMS, a hacker would also have to have possession of your phone; the password alone will not let him move forward thanks to 2FA.
Now that we’ve briefly touched on the basics of two-factor authentication, let’s shift gears and talk about 2FA with regards to WordPress! As you can now probably better understand, 2FA for WordPress is a must in order to further protect your valuable asset (aka your Wordpress website). At HD, we swear by the Google Authenticator Plugin for WordPress. It is the ‘industry standard’ and most popular when it comes to 2FA plugins for WordPress websites. The Google Authenticator Plugin can be easily installed and gives you two-factor authentication for iPhones, Androids and even Blackberrys (no judgment here). Choosing a premium hosting provider that prioritizes security is important, too. According to a WordPress security infographic via wptemplate, 41% of WordPress sites get hacked because of to their hosting providers’ inadequate security. Yikes! Fear not as our knowledgeable and seasoned staff at HD utilizes the Google Authenticator Plugin and a slew of other vital security protocols as part of HD’s Managed WordPress Hosting package. Check it out today!
Whether you’re a full-blown web developer or have just begun dabbling in the world of WordPress, you probably already have heard about or are familiar with the importance of plugins. Plugins integrate seamlessly and make having a WordPress site that much easier. They allow us to bypass complicated coding and we can turn them on and off with one simple click. WordPress websites would become more of a hassle for the majority of us if Plugins didn’t exist. WordPress without plugins are like Pizza without toppings…kind of well, plain and boring (sorry cheese-only lovers).
More recently, the topic of website performance and the number of plugins installed on websites have spread online. I’ve noticed and come across various online forums where people worry about having too many plugins installed and question if it’s affecting their website performance. I’ve seen some so-called experts say that the sweet spot is about 25-30 plugins while others claim they’ve seen no performance issues with up to 100 or more plugins installed. The reality is that there are various factors that play a role in running your WordPress website like a well-oiled machine.
Technically speaking, WordPress was designed to handle a ton of your plugins without slowing down your website. That being said, too much of anything can be bad, as in any facet of life. This is especially true when you’re not taking the following factors into consideration with respect to your WordPress plugins:
Quality of Plugins
If you had a Ferrari, odds are that you’re not going to pump 87 octane gas into it right? You’d be sure to get a funny look at the gas station. Treat your WordPress website the same way. ‘Fill her up’ with high-quality plugins and your website will be better optimized, not to mention your audience will appreciate a smoother user experience in return. How can you verify the overall quality and performance of your WordPress website? The Google PageSpeed Insights plugin can help get you started.
Also, the number of unnecessary plugins can make a difference. This should go without saying but if you have plugins that exist just for the sake of existing, you’ll want to consider doing some housecleaning. Only install plugins that you’re actually going to use, and do not leave them deactivated but instead, deleted. This will save you time and ensure efficiency in the long run.
Your Hosting Matters
Your hosting service matters. Bottom line. The difference between a great and satisfactory host is like the difference between a great landlord that tends to your needs and one that ignores them. We’ve all experience that landlord that ignored our request to fix the bathroom sink or upgrade the appliances. It’s not fun, to say the least. Whether you’re just starting a new website or are a seasoned business owner, you’ll need a host that caters to your specific needs. If you’re an e-commerce business or simply have a lot of data on your website, for example, you’ll want to compare disk space offering as well as speed (loading time) and a dedicated customer support team. Keep in mind that a slow host doesn’t just affect the speed of your customer’s website experience but can also make things on the admin side function sluggishly. All too often, business owners have had that dreadful day where their website suddenly goes down due to a higher number of visitors and/or unusual activity. If you’re looking to get started with a new host or ditch your current one, explore Host Duplex’s Managed WordPress offering here and feel free to give us a call if you have any questions.
Use A CDN
A CDN or ‘Content Delivery Network’ takes your website’s content and distributes it on to various places (servers) from a single location. Having a CDN can help improve the importance and scalability your content. If your website is hosted at one primary location and you get a sudden surge of traffic, it could spell doom without a CDN. A CDN will have a huge positive impact especially if you have website users around the world. Depending on the distance from the website user and the hosted server, it could take a longer time to deliver and upload data without a Content Delivery Network. In short, these are some of the main reasons why many companies have invested in a quality CDN provider.
If you’re not already implementing the above suggestions, give them a shot and see how your website performance can improve today! Your clients just might thank you.