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Poorly maintained websites and the fall of world leaders

Poorly maintained websites and the fall of world leaders

This week’s big news story has been the so called “Panama Papers” and the resultant resignation of at least one world leader, the Icelandic Prime Minister. Our own prime minister, David Cameron, has not been immune from this controversy, nor has Russian President Vladimir Putin.

A hacker took the data from Panamanian Law Firm Mossack Fonseca and revealed secret financial structures used by wealthy and powerful people all over the world, to hide their assets.

Analysis of Mossack Fonseca’s website revealed that the breach may have been caused by an outdated WordPress plugin: Revolution Slider. So, if failure to maintain a website in good order can bring down world leaders, just think what damage it could do to your business.

Too many firms still consider the development of their website in the same way that they view their print marketing campaigns, thinking it is ok to employ a web developer to create a shiny new website and then take their money and run. This is a very dangerous view indeed. At Route22 we add every new website to our own online dashboard and use this, along with various other tools and procedures to constantly monitor our clients’ websites. Twenty-four hours a day, our systems are looking for out of date components, broken links, hacking attempts, server failures and all sorts of other events and vulnerabilities. Depending on the arrangement we have with the client, we will then consult with them or go ahead and fix the problem. We also ensure that regular backups are taken of the site so that, if a threat is successful, we can recover your site and get everything up and running again with minimum fuss.

vaultIn addition to monitoring and managing our clients’ websites, we do as much as we can to “harden” them against malevolent activity as part of the design. This is all pretty boring to the client but very very important. We take measures such as enforcing strong passwords, obfuscating some of the known hacking routes into WordPress sites, and installing the most respected security software add-ons for WordPress. In the case of the “Panama Papers”, a working exploit for the Revolution Slider vulnerability was published on 15 October 2014 on exploit-db. This made it widely exploitable by anyone who cared to take the time. At Route22 we always vet any plug-in software to ensure that there are no known vulnerabilities and that the software producer is still actively supporting and updating it. We keep abreast of developments in the massive worldwide WordPress community through mailing lists and podcasts and attending WordPress conferences such as the annual “London WordCamp”, where we meet with some of the leading WordPress gurus and movers and shakers.

At Route22, we don’t only support our own creations, we are very happy to take on the support of existing WordPress websites that have been neglected.

So, if you’re looking for a developer for your new website, ask the prospective candidates how they view and ongoing relationship with you after the site has gone live. Many very good web designers are firmly in the creative camp and are not interested in ongoing support. That’s ok, everyone has their strengths, but if this is the kind of web designer that you choose, give some thought to how things will be handled later on. At Route22, we enjoy caring for existing sites every bit as much as creating new ones; even if we are adopting someone else’s baby.

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