Technically We Brilliance-Based Businesswomen Are More Vulnerable Than Even I Knew

I am honored, moved, and secretly thrilled by the tremendous increase in comments I’ve received on my blog in recent months. As you know, I’m truly committed to putting my voice out there in a big way, intending to reach hundreds, then thousands and maybe one day even millions with my writing. I am officially no longer hiding the light of my pen under a bushel.

Comments on my blog are valuable to me for many reasons.  First, I consider them evidence from the Universe that by writing so vulnerably I am headed in the right direction. They’re also great because they’re emotionally and intellectually stimulating, and they deepen my connection with individuals in my community.  As a bonus, they may even have long-term monetary value: if I can maintain and grow a consistent community of 200+ commenters per post, publishers will take me seriously when I eventually approach them with my book proposal. (I can’t believe I just wrote that. Okay, it’s out there. Now you know one of my secret dreams.)

Blog magic is certainly happening at connecttwo.com.  My latest post garnered a record-breaking 37 comments. And apparently people are now reading others’ comments and clicking through to the blog posts written by those commenters. Perfect!

Until the moment when… last week a client clicked through to the post of one of my commenters, and her computer became instantly infected by malware on that commenter’s site. My client’s laptop spent two days at the Geek Squad hospital before it was well again. Yikes!

Honestly, it had never before occurred to me that could happen. This particular commenter has a legitimate, successful business. She’s not a spammer. (Thanks to Akismet, I have zero spammers commenting on my blog.)  Unfortunately her site had been one of 50,000 hacked and she’s had a heck of a time righting it.

So I turned to my webmaster/wizard Mary Licanin for help. Immediately (and I do mean immediately – within 10 minutes of when I received the news from my client), she removed the malicious link from my site and ensured that my site had not been infected too. When I asked her how we can further protect my site, she gave specific practical advice.  I’m grateful that with Mary on the connect2 team, all of it has already been implemented and will continue to be handled.  But I’m hoping that other Brilliance-Based Businesswomen with your own websites will also benefit from what I learned.  Here’s a summary:

  • Most malware attacks come from exploits of vulnerabilities in old WordPress installations or database holes
  • Keep your WordPress version, PHP version and database current
  • Stay away from plugins from untrusted sources
  • Avoid installing free themes (they come loaded with code that can be used maliciously)
  • Don’t do the ‘set it and forget it’ thing with your website. It’s a living thing that needs to be nourished and cared for over time so that it can grow and stay healthy
  • Regularly change your password, using a good alphanumeric mix, and make it unique between different accounts. (So if your flickr account, for example, gets hacked because someone broke your password, they don’t have your password for all your sites).

So this week I learned about a new kind of vulnerability.  I hope you learned too.  What steps are you actively taking to protect your business and community technologically? 

20 Comments

  1. Elizabeth

    Thank you for providing everyone with these facts and advice. It is important to protect your website, as it has become a primary mean of communication and connection.

    • Debra Woog

      Absolutely. Thanks for coming by and commenting..

  2. Emily DeWan

    Thanks for these tips. I just had my designer update my WordPress yesterday. So far I've been lucky and no email accounts of mine have been hacked. I've had to change a few credit card numbers due to numbering being stolen, but I'm pretty good about keeping up with reconciling my accounts, so I notice it quickly.
    My recent post Preparing for Baby: Tips from NYC Experts

    • Debra Woog

      Good for you for staying proactive! And good for your website visitors too!

    • Debra Woog

      Thank you for commenting and for sharing!

  3. DrSuss

    This is so important! Thank you for posting. And I hope each comment gets you closer to your book.
    My recent post Where’s the Exit?

    • Debra Woog

      Thank you so much for reading, commenting and encouraging.

  4. Mary

    Another tip for you and your readers, Debra, that I thought I'd share here. There's a "DNS Changer" malware, that can affect your ability to connect to the internet. There has been a temporary solution in place to help those that have been infected, but that system will be turned off on July 9. To check your system, you can visit http://www.dns-ok.us You can also read about the malware on the FBI website. ( google: malware_110911 )

    That said, I will also restate the obvious, and don't ever click links sent in emails, especially those that seem to come from official channels like banks or large companies, unless you're absolutely sure of the source. Reputable companies will usually address you by name now, but even then, you can't be 100% sure the email is coming from a trusted source. The best emails I've seen from large companies tell you to visit their site, but don't provide you with any links. As a webmaster, I appreciate this style of email most! When in doubt, don't click the link! Type in the url or use a bookmark you've saved instead.

    • Debra Woog

      Thanks for adding more info for our community, Mary!

  5. Donna

    Thanks for the great advice. I will make sure to consistently update my site. Viruses and hackers can make your life miserable. My personal email account was recently hacked and they changed my password so I couldn't get into my own account. It's a shame that we need to protect ourselves from all of these malicious attacks, but I guess we do!
    My recent post Did You Know that Pumpkin Farmers Hold the Key to Success?

    • Debra Woog

      Sorry to hear abt your email account, Donna. How frustrating.

  6. Dawn

    Good advice we all should heed. I think any publisher would be lucky to have a book written by you, Deb!

    • Debra Woog

      Aw, shucks. Thanks, Dawn!

  7. Cindy

    Great advice and I'm so happy to see you enjoying your blog's growing popularity. I just have one question: why are you "secretly thrilled" rather than just plain "thrilled"? You are so brave in your life and your blog, so I think you deserve to be publicly, openly thrilled with your (blog's) success!! I know I am!

    • Debra Woog

      Oh that’s a good question. I’ll mull over the answer. You make a very good point, regardless. I appreciate all your support!

  8. Paula G

    Solid, long-term trustworthy advice about WordPress, passwords, and generally safe online behavior. Thanks for reminding us all.
    My recent post Shed – Sift – Savor

    • Debra Woog

      Thanks, Paula! I know you already know!

  9. Devra

    Thanks for the scoop! It's amazing how delicate these powerful machines really are, even with up-to-date antivirus software and such. They sure can distract from, say, running a business.

    • Debra Woog

      Oh yes, indeedy. 🙂