My WordPress Website Links Don’t Always Redirect to the Main Page
I’m sure many of you have read numerous times over the past few years that web browsers can be hacked and that any site can do something strange to your browser’s homepage setting if they wish to do so. You may have even heard of a fake website that, when clicked, will redirect you to a different URL entirely.
But did you know that this can actually happen to your wordpress website too? It’s true! And, even worse, if you’re not careful, it can happen without you knowing a thing about it.
Let’s say you’ve been building your WordPress website for a while and have been adding lots of cool content and interesting articles. You might also have been sharing those articles on social media platforms like Twitter or Instagram. But now you want to take your website content and curate it into a handy e-book, a comprehensive guide, or a mini-course. Or maybe you just want to keep your articles for your own private reading pleasure. Whatever the case, you’ve been working hard to build up a nice repository of blog posts and content. You don’t want to lose all that work by having the site suddenly become uncontrollable.
There are several different ways that this can happen. But the important thing is that it’s completely out of your control and something that you didn’t expect.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways that this can happen and what you can do to prevent it.
Worst Case Scenario: Hacks From Guest Accidentals
The worst case scenario is for your wordpress site to be hacked. But before we get into that, let’s discuss an even more terrifying scenario: what would happen if a nefarious individual managed to get control of your web server?
Nowadays, many shared hosting models offer you the ability to install WordPress with just a few clicks. This makes it incredibly easy for anyone to set up a blog or website overnight and, before you know it, you’re inundated by spammers, content thieves, or digital pickpockets (more on these types of individuals in a bit).
However, even if you host your site on a dedicated server, the security measures are often still problematic. You might have spent a decent chunk of change on that nice, new server and you’re not about to let the geniuses at Hetzner Online AG hack it just to make a quick buck. So, even if you take special precautions (more on these later), you’re certain to feel vulnerable.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s discuss why you wouldn’t want your site to be hacked in the first place.
The Not-So-Charming People Who Will Try & Succeed In Turning Your WordPress Website Into Their Own Viable Money Making Machine
You might be tempted to click on the link in the last paragraph and continue reading it, but I’ll ask you to put down the pitch fork before you do. Just kidding. Mostly.
The point is that, even if you take all the necessary security precautions and keep your site as up to date as possible, you’re still courting disaster if you don’t have the technical know-how to keep a watchful eye on things. Many a seasoned WordPress blogger has fallen foul of unscrupulous individuals who have tried to game the system for their own gain.
Even worse, you might not even recognize the signs of an intrusive hacker before it’s too late. Maybe they’ve changed the email addresses on your contact forms or hidden a bunch of words in the comments section of your blog posts. All of this might seem like innocuous changes to you, but, over time, you’ll realize that something’s up when you encounter problems with the site’s functionality or find that you’re being followed around the web by spambots.
Protecting Your WordPress Website From Hackers
Now that we’re on the topic of preventing your WordPress website from being hacked, let’s discuss some of the ways that you might be able to do this. First of all, you can always use the built-in security features that WordPress offers out of the box. The most fundamental one is probably the ability to set up a login and password for your site. This will prevent unauthorized users from accessing your content. It will also hopefully keep the bad guys at bay. Especially if you have a good password policy (something more on these in a bit).
You can also use the ‘Security’ menu item in the admin to enable various security tools like HTTPS or Force Login to keep your site secure. Many shared hosting providers now offer these security features for free, which is a nice touch.
The Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) System
One of the more effective ways that you can prevent your wordpress website from being hacked is by using a two-factor authentication (2FA) system. This involves the website providing a security code that you can use alongside your login credentials to verify that you’re a person and not a robot or a computer virus.
There are several different 2FA protocols that WordPress supports out of the box, like Google Authenticator or Authy, WeChat, or Facebook. But the most popular and, at the same time, the most vulnerable to being hacked is probably the classic security code option: simply use a simple password along with a button that pops up on your smartphone or laptop to authenticate yourself.
This method is highly effective because it combines something that you know (the password) with something that you have (the security code). Even if someone gets access to your login details, they will still need to get your smartphone or laptop to be able to use the 2FA option. This makes it more difficult for an attacker to access your account. Especially since, in most cases, your smartphone or laptop will be your only way of proving identity. (In the event that your laptop is stolen or lost, you’re pretty much stuck.)
Regular Backups & Recovery
Regular back ups are probably the single most important security precaution that you can take on your wordpress website. This will make sure that, in the event of a major hack or data breach, you can recover the content that was lost due to the crash. This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s a technique that many bloggers and website owners have been burned by. It’s also the number one cause of web server crashes and data loss. So, if you’re serious about wanting to keep your content safe, make sure that you back it up regularly.
You should back up your website frequently. Even if you have the perfect routine for keeping your content up to date and backed up, life can still throw a wrench in the machine. Hardware failures, natural disasters, and malicious attacks are all things that can cause data loss or corruption and force you to start from scratch.
Keeping A Watchful Eye On Things
Even if you take all the necessary security measures and use the best password management software, it’s still advisable to keep a watchful eye on things from time to time. It’s easy for a hacker to get around these security tools if they are not monitored closely enough. So, even if you have everything handled, you might still want to pop in from time to time to see what’s going on.
There are various apps and services that you can use to keep an eye on your site from any device. Some of the more popular ones are htaccess, Netvibes, and WhoisGuard. These apps allow you to monitor various aspects of your site’s performance, check for hacking attempts, and alert you to any changes that happen.
If you have more than one site that you administer, it’s a good idea to use a separate app or service for each of them. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a nightmare of trying to keep track of what’s going on across multiple platforms. (Trust me. I’ve been there.)
What About Malicious Attacks?
As a dedicated or semi-dedicated webmaster, you’re certain to hear the term ‘denial of service’ thrown around from time to time. What does this mean in practice and how does it relate to your wordpress website?