Devastating. Catastrophic. Life-Altering. The aforementioned terms are only a modest few that can describe the experience of being hacked. A hacked website can have implications of epic proportions. A business can be left in utter ruin. Financial losses can grind a profitable quarter to a sharp halt and a negative end.
For an artist, a hacked site can leave you without an audience of appreciators or consumers. For Ana V. Ramirez, a San Diego based photographer and blogger, the site hack, that ultimately led her to contact Sucuri, meant more work unrelated to her business and less work actually related to her business…kind of. The issues occurred at an interesting time as she explains:
My blog is relatively new so the hack did not impact sales directly. My main concern was that at the time several other blogs had featured my work and were linking back to my blog. I can't imagine how many people tried to see it and received error messages.
Undoubtedly a “worst nightmare” situation, Ana remained as calm as possible and sought to identify the correct resolution. Below, we will explore the path to her decision.
Operating in the cyber world can be as complex as operating in the brick and mortar world of business. Unfortunately, there is not an “easy button" to simplify the large learning curve and often experience is the only teacher when forging out as an independent. Thankfully, Ana had an online community to turn to when faced with this new challenge.
I belong to a blogging group and when my site was hacked I posted in the group asking for help. Several fellow bloggers recommended [Sucuri’s] services. This was the first time I had ever dealt with something like this so it was important to me that the problem would be fixed by a trusted source.
Although this was the first time Ana had personally experienced a website hack, she maintained a wise and obviously sound resolve. This resolve was to employ the assistance of professionals rather than piecemeal a solution on her own and subsequently lose precious time.
The gravity and real weight of a hack is difficult to accept, yet it is simple to understand. For Ana, the hack simply meant she could lose everything. Yes. Everything. She recalls that moment in the following quote from her blog post: “What I Learned When My Site Was Hacked”.
After all that work writing posts and uploading photos, the thought of having it all gone made me sick to my stomach.
It is necessary for any owner or administrator to protect their work in an online environment. Ana, however, has gone a step further in sharing her experience by providing pointed guidance. In an effort to share her awareness, Ana cautions:
…The chances of your website getting hacked are HUGE. Don’t think it won’t happen to you, because it totally can. Especially when you have a WordPress site. A blog that’s shut down means no marketing, no business and that everyone that clicks on the link to your page will get some sort of ugly error message.
Ana contacted Sucuri and was able to have her site cleaned and was set up on a firewall to prevent future occurrences.
[My site] is very important and in the near future it will be my only site. Everything I do is based on my online presence and without it I'm pretty much invisible. The bottom line is to not think that it won’t happen to you. It can and if it does it’s no fun to know that your site is down. By taking some steps to prepare you can get your site up and running much faster than I did.
Blogs can generate a large amount of branding and marketing opportunities for small and large businesses alike. For sole proprietorships like Ana Ramirez Photography, they can also provide an avenue for conversion into sales. Anytime a site is compromised, it can directly impact both the tangible and intangible profitability an online website investment can bring.
If you’re not technical, or don’t have the time to do things yourself, hire someone – the money will be well-spent. My number one piece of advice would be to prepare for the possibility of this happening to you. I wish I had set up a firewall and auto-backup service prior and then all of this could have been avoided. When it happened I was terrified that all my files would be lost and that all my work would go down the drain. Thankfully Sucuri saved the day!
How important would you say your blog or website to you and your business? Is it worth securing proactively? Time, experience and Ana tell us that it likely is best to make the first move and protect your brand as well as the consumer experience you seek to provide. When you make the decision, prior to or even after a compromise, Sucuri is able to assist and ensure as little distraction from the necessary tasks of management as possible and business continues or recovers quickly as needed.