The Importance Of Monitoring Your Website
Are you monitoring your website? You should be, especially if you are using it to make some extra cash, and definitely if it is your only source of income.
You need to monitor your website to protect it from so many nasties which could affect your bottom line. Any of the following could bring your site to a close.
A hack attack.
If your website is hacked, it could be used for any number of illegal activities.
A hacker could use your hosting account to send uce (Spam) from your domain or even add web pages such as user information "phishing" sites. These sites will have a page which looks like a login page for Paypal, Ebay or any bank. If someone fills in the form their details are sent to the hacker who now has access to their account. Your website will be shut down, and you lose money while you sort out the mess.
If you have any user information stored on your websites server, a hacker may also gain access to that too, and personal information is a very easy commodity to sell on.
Keep an eye on your site for any unexpected activity or unusual stats showing for pages you didn't make yourself. Most accounts have some kind of statistics built in to the control panel so it shouldn't cost too much to monitor visits and hits, and to which pages they go. Make sure any scripts you use are secure and updated with any patches to keep the hackers out too.
Hosting or server problems.
Your host, or server may have a problem, and lose access to the internet, or crash taking all sites hosted there down with them. This gives you two potential headaches, firstly loss of business while it is offline, but more importantly you may lose data. Making sure you take regular backups of all databases, and all your sites pages will help, also monitoring how often any outages occur, and how long each lasts will tell you whether it's time to change hosts.
No host can guarantee with absolute certainty 100% uptime, but some are much more prone to downtime than others. If you have all the site information backed up, moving hosts isn't as much of a task as it used to be, and can be done in quite a short time if needed. As hosting is such a cut throat business, finding a new one is also relatively simple. There are even software programs which will alert you if your site is unavailable.
Blog and Forum spamming
With the all pervasive spread of blogging it was inevitable that some people would resort to spamming them. Forums and message boards are also open to abuse from software which will autopost to thousands of sites in minutes. If your blog is able to accept comments, it is wise to ask for some kind of registration from people who wish to make comments. If you don't ask for registration you leave your blog open to blatant advertising done by software, which will be unlikely to bear any relevance to your blogs subject. This goes for your forums too, allowing guests to post without registration is open to abuse by widely available software which autoposts inane comments with a signature which contains a url to the spammers product.
Asking for registration will help ensure that only people committed to posting something relevant get to add their comments or posts. If someone wants to post they will take the time to register.
It may take a little time, but monitoring your websites could save you from a lot more wasted time in the future. Backups of your site will help and should be taken at least weekly, and all your scripts should at least have security updates as soon as they are released.
It's your site, make sure it stays in your control.
About the Author: Douglas Titchmarsh also authors two ezines avaialable at http://www,cashinonline.info/subscribe.htm