You Need To Secure Your WordPress Site… NOW

There’s a botnet on the loose now that is attempting brute-force login attempts on WordPress sites around the world. Here are the steps you need to take to secure your WordPress site.

Note: these are just a few basic security measures against brute-force login attempts, they’re not guaranteed to keep determined hackers out of your site.

1. Get rid of “admin” as your user name.

  • Go to Users/Add New
  • Create a new user profile with something other than “admin” or your domain name with a role as Administrator
  • Add a STRONG password (more on that in a bit)
  • Log out
  • Log back in using the new user info
  • Delete the ‘admin’ user (check the box next to the user profile, click the arrow next to Bulk Actions and select Delete. You can select the “Attribute all posts and links to” option and move all posts from ‘admin’ to the new profile)

[UPDATE 07/08/2013:  Don’t use your domain name as your user name, either. My logs of recent login attempts by hackers show they are using both ‘admin’ and the domain name to try to get access.]

2. Use strong passwords – instead of playing a lot of memory games, what we use is LastPass as our password manager. It’s free for all your desktops and a minimal fee for mobile devices – I’ve posted about this before…

Is Your Password 123456?

Home Office Small Business Security Checklist

This way all you need to do is remember one strong password to access all the others.

3. Limit login attempts. On all of our (and our clients’) sites I use a WordPress plugin called Better WP Security, but it’s an extensive and highly configurable plugin that may take you a while to learn. Another option that I came across that will just limit brute-force attacks is called Limit Login Attempts. Install it and activate it.

As I said, this is not a guarantee against all types of hacking, but it will sure slow down any brute-force attacks on your WordPress site.

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Security Hole In All Vista and Windows 7 Computers: Gadgets

In July two guys,  Mickey Shkatov and Toby Kohlenberg, gave a briefing at the annual Black Hat USA conference in Las Vegas about the vulnerabilities associated with Microsoft Gadgets. You know, those handy little things you can put up on the sidebar of your Vista or Windows 7 desktop.

windows gadgets

Well, not only is there the distinct possibility of downloading a ‘malicious’ gadget, Microsoft’s pre-installed gadgets also have a security vulnerability.

The fix? Disable the gadgets.

How? Go to http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2719662  Halfway down the page under the “Fix it for me” section click on the ‘Fix it’ icon above “Disable Windows Sidebar and Gadgets”.

You’ll have to download and run the ‘Fix it’ program and restart your computer when you’re done, but it’s one less security hole you’ll have to worry about..
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Online Businesses to Collect Sales Tax For All 50 States?

It was just a matter of time until state politicians persuaded federal politicians to pass a law to overcome a 1992 Supreme Court ruling that says you don’t have to collect sales tax unless you have a “physical presence” in that state so that you, as an online business owner, will now have to collect sales taxes on online sales for all 50 states.

Why? Because it’s the “fair” thing to do.

I’ve followed this for years now where states have called “affiliates” a physical presence in order to force Amazon.com to collect sales taxes…

Bad News For Some Amazon Affiliates

CT Latest To Attack Amazon Through Affiliates

California Shuts Down 25,000 Sources of Income

Now, Amazon is on the side of the government. According to a Wall Street Journal article:

In addition to expected support for the bill from big-box and Main Street retailers, even Amazon now backs a national solution, as long as it would cover online rivals. One reason is that Amazon plans to offer same-day delivery in some areas, analysts and competitors say, which will require it to have more warehouses—and thus open itself up to more state sales taxes. Most of its online competitors oppose the bill.

That’s because Amazon’s “online competitors”, like you and I, don’t have the accounting departments to keep track of 50 sales tax rates and write checks to 50 states every month. I don’t know about you, but I’ve found that filling out sales tax forms for just one state is a royal pain in the butt. Multiply that times fifty? Read more ».
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Camtasia Studio Tips and Tricks

Having created over 150 video tutorials with Camtasia I’ve come up with a few tips and tricks, especially when creating a video tutorial series. I’ve come across software developers who may be good programmers, but lousy when it comes to creating how-to videos for their product.

As an example, here’s one I actually created that’s an overview of Camtasia Studio…

Now for my tips…

In a series of videos, it’s best to start with an introduction to the series outlining what the software does, what steps are included and what the final results/benefits will be.

If the videos are available for download, the video series folders should be numbered in order (01subject, 02subject, etc.) to keep them in order. Otherwise, when they’re on a computer they end up in alphabetical order. Another option is to include an html page with links in the proper order within the main folder. Read more ».
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Small Businesses Need To Embrace Social Media

We’ve had a number of requests from prospective clients lately that want to “improve SEO” or “be on the front page of Google”.  In the words of a Search Engine Watch article:

The days of building out pages with content just to target a certain term, building some links, and walking away are over.

Gone are the days of waiting for traffic to arrive at your site. Instead of building a website, now you’re building a brand. A brand that delivers content through news outlets, a brand that is engaged in social media, a brand that pushes content through email and through other avenues just to name a few.

Facebook results showing up on Google searchAs a small business owner, your job is more and more to be the ‘face’ of your business. Only, whereas before you might attend or give a speech at the local Rotary Club or Chamber of Commerce, now you’re doing it on Facebook or Google Plus.

An analogy I’ve used before is one of a chef that opens his/her own restaurant. Now their job is not back in the kitchen but out front, greeting customers, interacting, showcasing the brand.

Have QR codes linking to your Facebook and Twitter accounts at the reception desk. The main idea is to get customers involved. The chef could tweet when shopping at the farmers’ market and finding, let’s say, some great fresh fish or farm fresh veggies for the night’s special.

He/she could post on Facebook some ideas for a new menu and get people involved in the decision, or do a poll on the website. People who are involved in the decisions are more likely to come in and try out the new menu items.

Small business owners can’t just rely on Google anymore in their marketing strategy. SEO still remains a part of the overall plan, but it’s just one part that’s becoming less and less relevant. You are the one that’s becoming more relevant.

For one thing, Google and Bing are starting to personalize their results. You can say “Hey, we’re number 8 on Google”, but it may be number 34 for someone else. Or they could change their algorithm and move you down a few pages, killing your business.

Facebook pages are starting to pop up in Google searches, and if the searcher is a member of Google Plus, the results will be slanted toward their ‘circle’ of friends comments.

The search engines are starting to realize that ‘word of mouth’ carries more weight than a simple search engine results page. Only now the ‘word of mouth’ is on the Internet.

It’s time for you to realize the same thing. Social media bring traffic through 2-way interaction, and you have to do your part of it.

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Top Ten Small Business Videos for 2011

Everyone has a top ten list at the end of the year but rather than slave over creating ten videos I’m turning to the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB).

NFIB is a great resource for small businesses, and they’ve created their own top ten video list. It covers subjects like unemployment and unemployment insurance, the federal deficit and debt ceiling, the EPA, the new health care regulations and one bright spot of young entrepreneurs.

The videos are all around 5 minutes or less, so check them out…

Top 10 Videos of 2011 for Small Business.
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