The Dyn DDoS Attack that Broke the Internet: Here’s What Happened

Dyn DDos AttackEven internet giants can’t consider themselves infallible in 2016. This is especially true after the most recent DDOS attack that took down websites like Twitter, Reddit, and Netflix.

Understanding DDOS attacks is helpful to knowing why your favorite websites are down. It’s also helpful when putting plans in place to protect your own website.

SiteUptime provides network performance monitoring services that make sure that your website is accessible from many points of the internet.

You’ll love our affordable service plans. SiteUpTime helps protect your website from hackers looking to steal information or bring your website down with a DDOS attack.

These attacks may seem random and unpredictable at times. There seems to be little anyone can do to prevent the internet from “breaking” during the time when these hackers wreck their havoc.

What a DDOS attack is

“DDOS” stands for Distributed Denial of Service. These attacks happen when a number of hackers and their bots go to a site all at once. This rush overwhelms the servers and causes the service to fail.

During this downtime, there isn’t much web hosts, web developers, and individual users can do to bring the website back to working order. This is evident in the latest DDOS attack on Dyn, a widely used internet performance manager.

These attacks, sometimes coming from the “darknet” can cost just $150 for a week-long DDOS attack. This makes the chances of a DDOS occurring higher since these cheap prices are in the budget for most people with malicious intent.

Interestingly enough, these attacks do not typically occur as an attempt to steal data from websites. But, in some attacks, this information can become compromised.

Instead, DDoS attacks block others from accessing the site and the information they have on it. Favorite videos on Youtube, sending out orders on Etsy or viewing your personal bank account information can all be stopped with an attack.

Ensuring that your website is secure is a first step in ensuring that a DDOS attack doesn’t harm your business.

There are ways to take steps that can help you avoid or prevent a DDoS attack. Try giving your employees additional training in online security and creating detailed online policies and strategies.

Botnets

Botnets are a network of computers that have been infected by malicious viruses that remain hidden on the computer until an event like a DDOS attack occurs.

During this time, the “botmaster” is able to coordinate an attack and collect control of infected computers. Just one botnet could bring down a website.

However, these botnets may work collectively to target larger websites and networks in order to bring down the sites for a longer period of time and over a larger geographical area.

In the case of the Dyn DDoS attack, a collective of hackers and botnets worked together across the globe.

Since they were located in different areas, the botnets completely took out Dyn databases on the east coast of the United States.

This was accomplished by them targeting the Dyn servers that linked back to the East Cost but were located in other countries.

The Dyn DDoS attack

On October 21st, 2016, your access to many favorite websites may have suddenly stopped working.

Some of the websites that were taken offline caused massive problems. Twitter, Reddit, GitHub, Etsy, Imgur, PayPal, Spotify, Yelp, and the PlayStation Network reported problems stemming from the Dyn DDos attack.

Problematically, this attack stopped users from accessing their information and cost these companies hours of business. For internet-based companies, this can be devasting.

SiteUptime aids in internet performance monitoring to find out exactly how much downtime your web site endures.

This information, along with the other data our services gather, can help with your personal understanding of DDos attacks in relation to your business.

As some have noted, DDoS attacks typically target a single website. Usually, this happens when someone or some group has a personal reason to remove that company from full online functionality for an uncertain amount of time.

In the case of the Dyn attack, the unprecedented incident took out a host that allowed multiple large websites to function.

Surprisingly, for this DDoS attack, Network World reported that only 10% of the world’s botnets were involved in the Dyn DDoS attack.

This particular DDoS attack took out websites for the east coast for almost the entire day– beginning at internet “primetime” in the morning and a third wave of the attack occurring just after 4pm est.

What’s happening now

As for Dyn, all of the websites taken down by the October 21st attack have returned to full function. Users can once again enjoy their services and business owners can go back to providing goods and making their living.

However, this massive attack has called for a review of the way websites and servers currently run.

Improving the technology and coding behind websites like Dyn may be able to prevent a future attack, but staying one step ahead of massive networks of hackers is a difficult task.

The remedy to this problem is not very clearly, unfortunately. As with many things coming from the dark side of the internet, finding out motives and solutions will be difficult.

Dyn has produced a piece that outlines the impact, timeline, and possible solutions to remove the possibility of DDoS attacks from happening in the future.

While SiteUptime is absolutely on board with fighting for a solution, it is our biggest priority to keep you up-to-date with the correct information.

We help your business by monitoring the internet performance of your website to provide great service to your customers.

Conclusion:

The DDoS attack on Dyn is a good example of why internet security is an important topic that should be at the forefront of any business owner’s mind. Security is important regardless of whether or not the company is small or large.

SiteUptime provides monitoring locations across the globe to test the functionality of your website from different points on the map.

With multiple locations, SiteUptime checks that problems like DDoS attacks don’t take down your website to different user groups.

Our locations are currently New York City, San Fransisco, Portland, Brazil, Ireland, Australia, and Singapore. Being across the globe is just another step we take to ensure that your website is monitoring and prepared for problems like DDoS attacks.

Network Performance Monitoring: 4 Reasons Your Site Goes Down

If you have a business, chances are you also have a website that brings in new customers from the web.

Providing network performance monitoring to over 125,000 websites, SiteUptime understands the necessity of having a funetwork performance monitoringnctional website that is reaching customers in order to keep businesses successful.

We know that a site that is up 99% of the time still equates to 7 hours out of every month where customers simply cannot reach your business website. For a new customer, this downtime is disastrous.

SiteUptime provides network performance monitoring services that make sure that your website is accessible throughout time and from multiple points of the internet. With our affordable service plans, you can be assured that your website stays available for your customers.

To best protect your business from the problems associated with websites going down, here are our top 4 reasons for site crashes.

What can network performance monitoring do for you?

Network performance monitoring can best be defined as the process of testing your website from multiple access points and time to check accessibility and the way your site is able to perform under various circumstances

SiteUptime has monitoring locations across the globe to test the network performance of your website from a comprehensive standpoint. Whether you are a web design or hosting company, or an individual website owner, network performance monitoring can help bring in a customer base you may have previously been missing.

With SiteUptime, your website will be monitored from varied geographical locations like New York City, San Fransisco, Portland, Brazil, Ireland, Australia, and Singapore. The scheduled testing that occurs from each of these locations will test the functionality of your website and verify any errors that occur.

Unfortunately, without a network performance monitoring system, it is difficult for website owners to effectively track what is going on.

The data you could be missing without network performance monitoring.

Network performance monitoring not only assists business owners in maintaining their e-consumer base through the knowledge of when their site is down, but it also offers an important mass of data that may otherwise be missed.

Shopping Cart Functionality

As a business that allows for online shopping, knowing if your customers are able to use their shopping carts and purchase their selections without error is integral to ensuring that customers can buy your products.

Uptime

As mentioned earlier, a website that is up 99% of the time is still down seven hours out of the month.

Studies have shown that 78% of customers have left without a sale or purchase due to bad service on a website, so knowing the amount of time that your site is properly working is key to understanding what you’re missing out on.

Website Visitors

Knowing how many people visit your website can also help business owners understand what functionalities can best provide service to their customers.

Similarly, business owners are able to tailor their specific web packages to match the hits they are getting.

Broken Links

Remember that blog you posted in 2012? The internet does, though you may not. That specific blog can still be getting hits in 2016 and onwards if your SEO is still hitting the right marks.

It’s not reasonable for you to have an eye on every single link you’ve ever used to ensure that it is still working, but a network performance monitoring system is able to do so for you.

Page Speed

Knowing how quickly your page loads can help you understand whether or not customers are likely to stick around until your website is fully accessible to them. As we all remember the days of dial-up, slow web access is not something to be desired.

Network performance monitoring enables you to understand why your website is slow and what you can do about it to increase the success of your website and, as a result, your business.

The top 4 reasons your website is down

Server Overload

Once of the top reasons that websites go down is because of a server overload.

This is sometimes seen as a “good problem” to be having, as it means that too many people are trying to access your website at the same time. Though there is room for celebration (you are getting tons of new customers after all), you must ask yourself why you aren’t able to serve all of those customers.

Another common cause of server overloads is because your website is under attack by a hacker or group of hackers. These overloads, called DOS (Denial Of Service), occur when a hacker uses multiple computers that are often infected with viruses to view your website at the same time, causing your website to go down as a result of the overwhelming demand and traffic.

Hacking

In relation to DOS attacks, hackers can cause your website to go down for a multitude of reasons. When your web security is compromised through accidental leaks of information, hackers can take down your website to retrieve your data and create harmful waves felt throughout your business.

Client database information, bank access, and other key components to your business may become compromised without the proper network safety being practiced.

Coding Errors

Another common reason for sites to go down is an error in coding. Though your developers should be working to prevent problems happening within the coding of your websites, errors can and will occur.

When a circumstance is not properly tested and prepared for, it is possible for the “perfect storm” to come together and cause your site to go down if all the right conditions are met that you coding is not ready to handle.

Datacenter Problems

As most websites use data centers to store their information and run their site on the backend, it is not uncommon for these centers to experience errors and downtime of their own. If a natural disaster occurs in the area of your center, this is an unavoidable reason for your website to go down.

In these cases, clear communication is needed to work with the center to get things up and running again.

We’re here to help.

SiteUptime is here to provide you with unbeatable network performance monitoring services for competitive prices.

We are also here to support our customers with educational information that can help with the way you understand how to protect your information online and how to better your website all through our blog content. Our comprehensive FAQ page also holds tons of valuable information for you.

To get started with network performance monitoring on your site, contact us!

Site Monitoring Tools: 4 Big Reasons You Need Them

Branding seems to be the hot new buzzword these days. People talk of crafting and protecting brands, of their customers making a connection with their brand, not just their company.

site monitoring toolsIt’s more than just your product or your information; branding encompasses the look, feel, and experience of a company or person.

Small businesses often have a more intimate relationship with their customers; in these cases, branding is a very big deal!

Your website is a direct 24/7 portal between your customers and audience to you and your brand.

But what happens if there’s an issue with your site and it goes down or pages won’t load? Is your website secure? And, how does it affect your Google rankings?

A website without site monitoring tools makes itself vulnerable to a host of issues that can quickly grow beyond your control.

If you think you can handle it on your own, read on to find out the four biggest issues that threaten you and your brand and what you can do now to protect it.

Time On Your Hands

Time is money – that old adage is truer than ever these days.

If your site has any issues, and it goes down, how quickly do you think you would be made aware of it? How much effort do you think it would take to really get to the root of the problem?

If you’ve got a small company or just run the website yourself, you might be caught unaware by a small problem that grew large while you weren’t looking.

At this point, you’re losing precious time dealing with it.

A site monitoring service nips this issue in the bud. You won’t have to be combing through logs for information or manually compiling data.Your website is a direct 24/7 portal between your customers and audience to you and your brand.

But what happens if there’s an issue with your site and it goes down or pages won’t load? Is your website secure? And how does it affect your Google rankings?

A website without site monitoring tools makes itself vulnerable to a host of issues that can quickly grow beyond your control.

These tools compile your IT info into one place for easy access, improving efficiency in real time.

With your site being monitored twenty-four hours a day, you can spend your valuable time crafting your posts or filling orders instead of keeping one eye open for problems.

Get Notified Before Your Site Suffers

Not only will your IT data be easily accessible in one central location, you will receive proactive notifications when something goes wrong.

Things that would usually go unnoticed are immediately brought to your attention, allowing you to take the steps needed to right your site.

Your website will suffer if your disc space fills up, causing the whole operation to lag or even fail.

If your anti-virus protection is out of date, it could cause a huge issue not only for your customers but for your own computer as well.

Twenty-seven percent of blogs or websites are run on WordPress. If yours is one of them you should know themes need to be updated often to prevent any kind of security risk.

Site monitoring tools are a proactive way to take control of your site and ultimately, the user experience.

The sooner you know there’s an issue, the quicker you can react.

Gain Insight And Understand How To Improve

You might think your website is perfect the way it is.

Of course, that’s how one feels after pouring their time and energy into creating something, especially something as personal as a brand website.

But, is it really all that great?

What if your hi-res images create a long loading time? Or those animations that you thought were eye-catching were actually ignored and just ate up space?

Is your load speed dragging and effectively killing your Google search results?

Yes – your website’s overall health and quality might be affecting your standings in Google rankings. If Google crawls your site and sees it’s down, you drop lower on the list.

Monitoring your site’s performance can really make that much of a difference which is why it’s always good to get another opinion.

With site monitoring tools, you’ll get a look into what works and what doesn’t on your website. Once you can see the bigger picture, you can start making decisions that will improve the overall health of your site.

Getting to know your site, you’ll see if your site isn’t responding the way you want it to, and from there you can get it where you need it to be.

The Worst Crime: Going Offline

What’s worse than having a site that loads slowly? A site that doesn’t load at all.

Going offline is incredibly costly, and not just from a financial perspective.

Imagine how you would feel about a site that suddenly wasn’t available.

Would you trust it with your credit card information? Would you feel that the info in the blog was legitimate?

The damage to your reputation is one of the biggest issues of site downtime.

You’ll lose money, true, but you’ll lose your customers’ trust and that’s almost impossible to get back.

Slow load time, being hijacked by malicious code, and a total site shut down – this is a business’ biggest nightmare.

Up to 40% of visitors to your page will click away from your site if it loads too slowly. Can you take that kind of hit?

All of the above points combine to make sure this never happens to you and your site.

Understanding your site, early detection of any issues, and saving time in dealing with these issues are the ultimate way to preserve your standings and improve user experience.

Site Monitoring Tools Are Vital For Your Website’s Health And Performance

Killing your user experience.

Wiping your website’s views on Google.

Losing customers and money.

Spending time on minor issues that spiraled out of control.

Leaving your site vulnerable to hackers and viruses.

Do you need more reasons to protect your brand?

Keep your peace of mind with a reliable and affordable service like SiteUptime.

SiteUptime has several plans – one of them at zero cost! – that will make sure your site never suffers any of the above pitfalls.

They’re available 24/7 in various locations around the world, ensuring there’s always someone watching out for you.

Their remote locations always verify their findings too so that you’re never sent into panic mode over a false reading.

Try it out and get a look into your website’s performance. A simple tweak might be all it takes to keep your customers happy and ultimately boost your bottom line.

How to Backup Your WordPress Site for a Quick Recovery

Your website is the face of your brand.

It’s the first place most people go when they go when they hear about you, and if the site is down or crashes while they use it, 39% of users will leave and never come back.

backup a wordpress siteAnd if you don’t have a backup to restore everything quickly, you could find yourself having to build it back up from scratch, losing potential customers and profits in the meantime.

This is why it’s so important to learn how to backup a WordPress site. You cannot afford to have your website go down without a plan in place to fix it.

Don’t get caught in the nightmare scenario of losing everything! Follow our helpful guide to learn how to protect your site and your brand when stuff goes down!

Why Sites Go Down

Your hosting provider could go down for a number of reasons, and it happens to everyone once in a while. But if it becomes a common occurrence or if the outage lasts for long stretches of time, then you might want to consider porting your site over to another host.

But before you go moving your site around from host to host, you should understand the potential reasons your site might go down.

You’ve Been Hacked!

Okay, it’s not as bad as it sounds. Hackers sound really scary (and if you’re not protected against them, they are), but almost every popular website gets hacked at one point or another.

Any good hosting provider has a variety of protective measures against hackers and you can sign up for site monitoring to be instantly notified when something is going wrong.

They may be looking for personal, financial, or customer information and cause your site to crash in the process. It often requires a full restore to remove any malicious code, which is a great reason to learn how to backup a WordPress site.

My Plugin Broke Everything

While hackers can occasionally break through your security and bring down your site, the far more common reason your website will go down is because of YOU.

Websites are made up of thousands of individual lines of code that all have to work with each other.

When you install new updates or plugins to your site, you’re introducing or replacing hundreds of lines of code with new information.

Because many of the most helpful plugins are made by a third-party developer, sometimes old plugins don’t work with new WordPress updates, visual plugins conflict with your theme, or multiple plugins clash with each other and your site goes down.

A quick call to customer service will usually resolve the issue pretty quickly, but if you have your WordPress site backed up, then you can take care of it yourself even faster!

How to Backup a WordPress Site

Now that you know how easy it is for your site to go down, you should be prepared for the eventuality that it will happen to you.

But that doesn’t have to be a stressful prospect because learning how to backup a WordPress site is easy and solves the problem instantly!

1. Make Additional Copies of Intellectual Property

A lot of creativity goes into creating a website, and that creativity is valuable. When someone tries to steal your intellectual property and pass it off as their own, you need to have proof that you or your employees are the creators and owners of that content.

If you’ve created blog posts, “about” pages, graphics,  or anything original for your site, you need to have it backed up somewhere offsite and offline. It would even be smart to have multiple copies on different devices in case one of your backups is lost.

2. Take Advantage of Your Web Host Backups

This is one of the easiest steps to take to back up your website. If you have a managed WordPress blog, your web host will often include free backup and recovery that will allow you to restore your site with a single click.

However, your host is not a dedicated recovery service, so you may end up in a situation where they won’t be as responsive as you need them to be or they don’t have a recent backup. Consider as a backup to your backup.

3. Use Dedicated Backup Software

There are also many paid and free plugins available that make it easy to backup a WordPress site.

Some of them even make it easy to download the files directly to your computer so you can restore your site by yourself the moment you know it’s down.

4. Save Your Files Manually

To create a recovery of your website, you need to download your entire WordPress directory using an FTP program like FileZilla or Transmit.

Navigate to the Home directory and locate your WordPress directory, then compress the folder into a .zip file and download it to a hard disk.

Whenever your site goes down, you can upload this backup to the FTP program and restore your site to the state it was in when you saved it.

Come Up With A Disaster Recovery Plan

Now that you have your backup, you need a recovery procedure to put into action the moment your site goes down, so you can keep your downtime to a minimum.

Monitor Your Website 24/7!

Obviously, you can’t constantly refresh your website waiting for it to crash, but you can enroll in a website monitoring service that will watch it for you.

They send you an alert in two minutes or less when your site has gone down, so you can restore it quickly.

Keep Track of Software Logs

Most web hosts will keep audit logs of your website’s operation that you can request to get an idea of how your site is supposed to look when it’s running normally.

When your site disappears, audit logs can also be a good indicator of when and where things went wrong.

Check Your Plugins!

As we mentioned above, plugins are a common culprit in bringing down your website.

If you just added a handful of new plugins or updated WordPress and your site went down, try uninstalling them or restoring your site before you panic.

Learn How Your Backup Software Works

If you want to resolve your issue as fast as possible, then you should know exactly what will happen when your website does disappear and you need to defer to your backup.

If all else fails, call customer service and ask them to explain what steps you need to take to get your backup implemented as fast as possible.

Summary

Your website is potentially the most important interface between your business and your customers. When it’s down, your customers are leaving, and you’re losing money.

Educate yourself on the potential causes of website outages, keep close watch over your site’s operation, and take the steps to restore your website the moment it goes down to keep your business and your clients happy!

E-Commerce Security: Keep Your Website Up this Holiday Season

e-commerce securityFor many companies, the holidays are the busiest time of year. 74% of retailers say that they make 20% of their annual sales each December.

Now, that’s a reason to be merry! But a lack of e-commerce security could put your company at risk.

But, let’s take a step back for a second. Because a lack of e-commerce security could put your company at risk.

While your site may run fine the rest of the year, the increased traffic around the holiday season causes many unprepared retailers to experience crashes. These crashes are caused because too many users are trying to access your database at once. Since it can’t handle all these requests, it crashes.

Any downtime on your website means that customers will go looking elsewhere. They’re busy and trying to get all the gifts they need in time for the holidays. They won’t wait around for your site to come back online. This is why small companies lose more revenue because of IT issues than any other sector.

While essential to be informed if your site goes down, in the best case scenario, it won’t go down at all.

So how do you keep your site from crashing and ensure that even if it does, it gets back up in no time? Read on to find out.

Read on to find out.

Prepare For Increased Traffic Through Scalability

Gone are the days when companies would buy excess server space that would sit unused most of the year, just to be prepared for December spikes.

To avoid this massive expense while still ensuring you’ve got the extra capacity when you need it, look for a web hosting service that provides a flexible, cloud-based plan.

This way, you can increase your plan’s capacity just for when it’s necessary, and go back to regular levels throughout the year. You only have to pay for what you need, but you still get the security of knowing that your website will be prepared for the incoming flood of holiday shoppers.

You only have to pay for what you need, but you still get the security of knowing that your website will be prepared for the incoming flood of holiday shoppers.

Even Traffic Distribution Through a Load Balancer

Related to scalability, load balancing helps spread out the traffic coming to your site across multiple servers, reducing the chance of a crash.

Even if one of the servers fails, your website won’t go down. Instead, your traffic will be distributed across the remaining servers until the crashed one can be repaired. This is a valuable redundancy that decreases the chances of crashing.

In addition to providing e-commerce security and ensuring your website stays up and running throughout high traffic, load balancing also reduces overall latency for site visitors. This is great news for the busy holiday shopping season!

Session Persistence is a Must Have for E-Commerce Security

The only thing you need to worry about is ensuring that your provider for your load balancer ensures session persistence. When a shopper is filling their online cart, the information about their selections is stored in their browser until they move to the purchase page.

If the load balancer changes which server is handling a shopper’s request partway through their purchase, it can lead to errors and failed transactions.

Session persistence means that a user’s entire shopping session is handled by a single server. As long as your load balance provider guarantees session persistence, you won’t have to worry about any purchasing issues. You can rest easy knowing your shoppers’ purchases will remain secure.

Load balancers can be provided by your hosting service provider.

Content Delivery Network

A content delivery network (CDN) can prevent crashing as well as increase your website’s speed. This is highly important considering 51% of online shoppers say that slow speeds are the number one reason they abandon a purchase online.

This option makes use of pulling and caching content from your server and distributing it to secure servers all over the world. When a shopper accesses your site, their computer will pull the information from the server nearest to them. This reduces the overall stress on your server and increases the efficiency of your system.

A content delivery network system shifts the burden of your traffic load from your own server to the CDN’s network.

This is an especially good option if your business plans on selling internationally. Your customers will have a good online experience whether they’re in New York, Paris, or Tokyo.

Use caution with this option. Some content delivery network services don’t manage dynamic content very well. If your website uses a good deal of dynamic content, make sure that your provider will accommodate your website properly; otherwise, your shoppers won’t get the full benefit.

Making Sure Your E-Commerce Security Solution is Working

Once you’ve selected a way to manage spiking traffic around the holiday season, you must monitor your website’s performance to ensure that everything is working as well as you would hope.

This means being constantly vigilant for site outages and crashes. For example, if you scaled up your website plan to account for additional traffic but visitors exceeded your expectations, your website could still go down.

That’s why many companies use a website monitoring service. A monitoring service will let you know the moment your website crashes so you can fix it immediately. Remember, you can lose about 8% of your daily sales for every hour that your website is down. This is even worse if your website goes down during peak shopping hours.

Knowing the moment your website goes down means you can reduce downtime and reduce the amount of lost revenue by getting it up and running again as fast as possible.

You can also use statistics gathering about your uptime and downtime. By getting hard data about your website’s performance, you can improve on your crash-prevention solutions. For example, if you notice your website is still going down at certain times, you can increase your data plan or speak to your hosting service.

By bringing them useful data, you can determine a solution that provides what you actually need, instead of just springing for larger, more expensive plans.

(Gift) Wrapping Up

Now that you know what solutions are out there, you can upgrade your website to avoid any costly outages during the holiday season.

Whether you go with a load balancer, a scaled-up cloud plan, or a content delivery network, always make sure to monitor your website’s performance and watch for outages.

By keeping your website up and running, you will ensure a magical shopping season for you and your customers alike!

Website Down? How to Work Through Planned Site Downtime

website downHere’s the unfortunate reality of running a website:

You will have downtime.

Your website may use the best hosting company and the best-of-breed infrastructure. But, hiccups in server uptime every once in awhile are par for the course. Technical difficulties can force a server to shut down. Or, an update may require taking a website down for a few hours.

Whatever the case, outages can prove bank-breaking. They cost businesses $26.5 billion every year!

Sure, a planned downtime is different from an unplanned outage. With the former, one expects to get back online.

But, be warned:

Even planned downtimes can turn ugly – from dipping rankings, poor customer experience, to a reduction in revenue.

Worry not. In this guide, you’ll learn how to prepare so planned downtimes don’t turn to unplanned disasters.

Taking A Website Down For Maintenance? Here Are 2 Big Mistakes To Avoid

If a downtime is inevitable, be sure to let both website visitors and search engines know that the outage is only temporary. And many get this part wrong.

For example:

A website owner may remove all of the files from the server to give the website’s theme a complete overhaul. This results in a 404 error (“Not Found” error) when people try to access the site. And the error message does little to inform searchers and bots about the actual situation.

Is the site gone for good? Or is the outage temporary? If the latter is true, when will the website get back online?

A 404 error message doesn’t answer any of these questions.

The worst case scenario:

Visitors may assume the website has gone out of business, and they may not access or search for the website again.

Search engines often have the same reaction. Google, Bing, and co. may assume that the site no longer exists and schedule it for deletion in their index.

Other webmasters know enough not to pull out of their server files during planned downtimes. They take the extra step of adding a simple page along with a sentence or two to explain the outage. All of the website’s pages are redirected to the message.

The workaround does the job as far as keeping human visitors in the loop is concerned. Search engines, however, are still miles away from a total understanding of our language. The message won’t make any sense to these bots.

Moreover, search engines may think that the page has replaced the entire website, depending on how the redirection was carried out. A terrible way to lose hard-earned rankings and traffic!

Preparing For A Planned Downtime

Now we know what mistakes to avoid when taking down a website temporarily. The rest of this guide will show you how to prepare along with the right redirection and HTTP status code.

Know Which Channels To Use For Updating Visitors

Are you going to put up a dedicated status page? Will you put it on your blog? Or, should you communicate the issues via social media instead?

The method that makes the most sense is the one that lets you reach the majority of your audience. Of course, you can use multiple channels for sending updates. Nevertheless, having a primary communication medium and redirecting everyone there will keep all parties involved on the same page.

Put Someone In Charge

After identifying the ideal communication platforms, put someone in charge of updating the status of the downtime. Now this depends on a number of factors like the nature of the issue and your website’s audience.

For example:

A tech-savvy customer base may require the expertise of the DevOps team to update everyone and answer technical questions about the issue.

If the site’s customer base isn’t too technical, having someone from the customer service team might be the best bet. A customer service expert’s skill will prove helpful in handling inquiries and keeping customers calm during the downtime.

The Right Redirection And HTTP Status Code

Planned outages not marked as such can have a negative impact on a site’s reputation and rankings. Fortunately, one can better deal with downtimes and preserve their site’s rankings by using the right redirection and HTTP status code.

Let’s have a quick review of the most important codes and their meaning:

  • 200 OK: The standard response for successful requests.
  • 301 Redirect: Tells the search engines that the resource is on a new and permanent location. It passes most link juice from the original website, making it the best redirection method when rebranding a website with a new domain or URL.
  • 302 Found: A 302 redirect means the requested page or website is sitting at a different location for the time being. The search engines recognize this and will prevent passing link juice to the temporary location.
  • 404 Not Found: The page or website isn’t in the requested location, and gives no indication whether the outage is temporary or permanent.
  • 503 Service Unavailable: The server is unavailable temporarily for a number of reasons like overload or maintenance. Search engines recognize the temporary state of affairs and won’t de-index the website.

The first section of the guide taught us that using a 404 error code during planned downtimes is a terrible idea. Instead, you want to use a 503 status code.

Aside from informing search engines of the downtime’s temporary nature, a 503 status code lets website owners provide an estimate as to when the site will return online. This can be done with ease by adding a Retry-After header.

Keep in mind, however, that a 503 status code shouldn’t be on for too long. Doing so may leave Google thinking that the website is gone from the World Wide Web for good.

Planned Downtimes Shouldn’t Lead To Unplanned Disasters

A website may go down not because it’s out of business but for routine maintenance. However, visitors and search engines like Google won’t see the difference unless you tell them. Fail to make the distinction and losing visitors and rankings may follow.

Don’t let planned downtimes lead to unplanned disasters.

In this post, we looked at everything you need to know before taking a website down for maintenance. We identified the biggest mistakes to avoid, the preparatory steps, and the right HTTP status code for planned downtimes.

Keep this guide handy and may your planned downtimes be smooth and hassle-free.

7 Tips to Secure Your WordPress Site from Hackers

WordPress is one of the most popular website platforms around. Over 74.6 million websites rely on WordPress technology, That’s more than Amazon (US), the most popular online retailer in America.

Of course, it’s not hard to see why. WordPress’s customizability, stability, website security, and ease of use is second to none. However, a WordPress site can only do so much to avoid hackers on its own. If the administrator at the helm of a secure website doesn’t know how to keep their site secure, it’s only a matter of time before someone breaks in.

If you want your WordPress site to go from hacker resistant to hacker-proof, there are seven big things that you should be doing.

1. Keep Up With Plugin and Theme Updates

One of the main reasons for WordPress updates is to seal newly discovered security holes in the WordPress software.  So anytime you decide to ignore updates out of laziness or out of the worry that it’ll break your site, you put your site in jeopardy of being cracked.

If you’re worried about your WordPress site crashing or getting lost due to an update error, don’t. WordPress updates go off without a hitch almost all of the time. Even if you encounter an error, you can rollback to a previous version as long as you have a backup. You can make things even easier with a tool like WP-Rollback.

2. Use a 2FA  For Your Logins

A 2FA or Two Factor Identification is an extra layer of security that supplements the typical username and password. You’ve probably already used this on secure banking websites that require an additional pin or ID code in addition to the other credentials.

This extra layer of protection may not be necessary for small sites or normal blog sites, but if you deal in sensitive information like bank cards, you should definitely use a 2FA.

3. Limit Unsuccessful Login Attempts and Remove Login Hints

Internet hackers typically use a hacking technique referred to as “brute force,” wherein an application program constantly inputs different data until it eventually uncovers correct credentials. It can take a while, but a brute force program will eventually find all correct combinations.

This method sounds crude, but it is by far the most effective way to break into unprepared sites. What makes it even more insidious is that these brute force applications are very easy to access and use. A ten-year-old with minimal computer expertise could hypothetically run one of these programs and successfully break into your site.

Luckily, you can make this extremely effective hacking technique completely worthless with two simple changes. First, limit unsuccessful login attempts by using a tool like LoginLockDown. Second, disable login hints that tell the user whether it’s their username or password that’s incorrect. Limiting login attempts could prove to be a mild inconvenience for your users, but you’ll have a much more secure website in the long run.

4. Rename Your Login Page and Remove the Admin Login Link

You can further deter brute force attacks by renaming your login page to something other than www.yourwebsitename.com/wp-login.php. By renaming your login page, you make automated brute force applications work much harder to find it in the first place.

You can also protect your site by using removing the Admin login link from public view, and turning it into a private URL that only your administrators have. All of this is doable with the Lockdown WP-Admin plugin. You can also download a plugin like The Hack Repair Guy’s Admin Login Notifier.

For this to work successfully, you may need to update your internet security policy with your employees and other administrators.

5. Create a 16 Digit Numerical Password With Symbols Like % or $ and No Whole Words For a More Secure Website

It’s tempting to make easily rememberable passwords like the names of people you know or your date of birth, but the easier it is to remember, the easier it is to hack. Instead, use a tool like passwordsgenerator.net to create a password that no human could ever guess. With anti-brute-force application methods in place such as tips 2 and 3, you’ll have a more secure website than the overwhelming majority of WordPress users.

6. Don’t Skimp On Your Hosting Platform

All the complex passwords and security precautions won’t do a bit of good if your host is unreliable. In fact, most hacked WordPress sites were hacked due to a failing on their hosting platform’s part.

Shared hosting is generally affordable and should be just fine for smaller sites. But if your site starts getting large and uses up more server resources than its peers, your shared host may encourage you to upgrade. This may be periodic series of messages if your host is polite, or your site may be dropped without warning if you’re unlucky.

If your site is going to be big, you’re better off going for a more secure WordPress specialized host. Pagely and Siteground are two well-respected WordPress hosts, but you should shop around to find one that directly suits your needs. In addition, you should keep track of your website’s server load and performance to see the degree of web hosting you need (with a tool like SiteUpTime).

7.  Protect Your Own Computer

This goes without saying for most of you, but many others often forget this valuable tip. You need to ensure that your own system is secure. It makes no sense to protect your site from the outside if your own computer is infected with malware, trojans, or other bugs. If you’re getting popup ads, haven’t scanned for malware or adware in the last month, frequently visit unsafe sites or click random ads, or don’t utilize a firewall, you should check your system with multiple trusted virus scanners before doing anything else.

Remember to Always Have Backups!

Nothing is guaranteed. It’s possible that your site could still be hacked even with these security measures in place. Luckily, backups function as your trump card against hackers. If you or one of your administrators notices some malicious activity on your site, take it down and rewind back to a previous version once you’ve determined the cause.

It’s an inconvenience, but a few hours of site downtime is much better than someone stealing customer information from your secure website!

It’s recommended that you keep at least 3 backups of your site in various media including physical ones  just in case your computer is compromised. You can make this process easier by turning on automated WordPress backups, but remember to check often to ensure the application is still working.

Downtime is unacceptable. You should be monitoring yours. Contact us for more on how to keep your website secure.

Your Server Uptime Needs Monitoring Now: 4 Reasons Why

You put all this work into building a beautiful, responsive website for your business, and you’re getting tons of traffic from it. Your business is gaining new customers with its online presence and your sales and customer satisfaction rate have been improving.

Even if your server uptime is at 99%, this means that for over seven hours per month your customers cannot reach you or make purchases. Downtime, even as little as seven hours per month, can lead to detrimental results for your business.

What Does Poor Server Uptime Look Like?

Several factors can cause a server to go down, including server hardware issues, software issues, coding errors, network downtime and power outages to name a few. The possibilities are endless. When your site isn’t up and running like it should be, visitors might see the following:

  • Http errors on the screen
  • Hijacked pages that contain malicious content
  • Dead pages where nothing loads at all
  • Slow load times or “soft downtime,” in which the site is not actually down but its performance is affected to the point of being unable to operate

Any of these factors can quickly deter a customer. When they can quickly get to another site with just a click of a button, visitors are not likely to stick around and wait for your site to load. If your site experiences downtime frequently, customers will remember that, and make a poor association with your business.

Here are four reasons why you should take your website seriously and monitor your server uptime:

1. Prevent the loss of sales.

Server downtime is the equivalent of closing up shop. When the store is closed, there is no chance to make a sale. And when you can’t predict when your site will go down, you run the risk of closing your store during its prime shopping hours.

When the store is closed, there is no chance to make a sale. And when you can’t predict when your site will go down, you run the risk of closing your store during its prime shopping hours.

When your website is down, the possibility of a sale goes down with it. Customers can’t make purchases unless your site is up and running. The more frequently your website experiences downtime, the harder the loss of sales will affect your business.

Think of huge businesses that generate the majority of their revenue from online sales. A few hours of downtime can make a significant dent in their sales goal. For example, Amazon.com crashed for roughly two hours in June 2007. It cost them about $3.48 million in revenue.

While downtime may affect financial costs in immediate time, it can also affect future profits if your company’s brand and customer satisfaction are compromised. We’re getting into that below:

2. Protect your business’s reputation and image.

Your website is vital to your business’s brand and image. A customer’s interaction with your website can leave a lasting impression on their perception of your business.

If a customer visits your site when it is experiencing downtime, they might not come back. Even worse, if your site is running too slowly, the customer might give up and turn to your competitor’s site. This should be enough motivation to monitor your server uptime.

This should be enough motivation to monitor your server uptime.

Frequent downtime can also play a part in how easily customers can find your site. Google is not a fan of server issues. If your website is constantly down or running slowly for a few days, Google takes this into account and as a result, your search ranking can go way down.

Without a good search ranking, customers will have a hard time finding your site. Without customers, you will have no sales. Server downtime leads to a spiral of downfalls for your business.

3. Detect hackers immediately.

Hackers can affect your server uptime, as well as your brand reputation, customers and sales, just by entering malicious code into your site. When that happens, your site is sure to suffer a setback.

The benefit of a website monitoring service is that they will let you know right away when your website has been hacked and you can go in and address the issue. Without this monitoring service, you may go several hours or longer without knowing your website has been hacked. You risk the embarrassment of someone else, may even a customer, telling you what they saw on your site.

4. Understand your site’s performance.

In addition to notifying you of downtime or hacker issues, a website monitoring service can keep you informed of how well your website operates on a day-to-day basis. Many services can inform you of the following:

  • How responsive your site is
  • Whether your site contains to many graphics or animated items
  • If you are in the top-10 search results in Google
  • If your website is available around the clock

Monitoring services not only detect server and network issues as soon as they occur, but they also may provide insight on performance benchmarking, alerting capabilities, detailed reporting, data visualizations and more to keep your website and network running smoothly.

We’re Here For You

Server uptime monitoring is an efficient way to keep your online services working. Website uptime monitoring tests the performance of your website and checks whether your site is working well enough or not. This service helps in finding the weak points of a site and eliminating downtime.

Poor server uptime can have a number of effects on the success of your business. From financial losses to customer dissatisfaction and a compromised brand image, the downfalls are too significant to risk. Use a website monitoring service so that you are made aware of issues as they occur.

At SiteUptime, we notify you instantly by email or text message when your site goes down so that you can fix the problem before it affects your business’s revenue, customers or reputation. Our service also provides detailed statistics about your website’s availability and response times so that you can track how often your site is down.

For your online business to be successful, you need to eliminate downtime as much as possible. Uptime monitoring services are the best way to keep your website running well so you can continue to generate revenue and satisfy your customers.

Network Downtime Cost: How Can You Protect Your Website?

Do you know how much network downtime your website experiences in any given week?

When was your network last down? Can you correlate these crashes with particular events?

Are your clients and customers reporting downtime? Can you validate those reports?

Knowledge is power.

This means, a lack of knowledge is a loss to you and your business.

Fortunately, there’s a solution. But first, let’s talk about the actual cost of network downtime.

1. Network Downtime Cost: Real Dollar Amounts

Depending on how big or small your company actually is could determine how large a chunk network downtime can pull from your income.

In a survey of over 200 companies, CA Technologies found that network downtime costs companies a total of $26.5 billion in one year. 

Breaking it down even further shows that small companies lost around $55,000 each year. Medium-sized companies lost  $91,000. Large companies? They lost upwards of $1,000,000 because of IT failures.

Suffice it to say, from small businesses and across the field to big data centers, the real dollar to minute cost of network downtime is horrendous.

2. Network Downtime Cost: The Cost to You

If you want to estimate your own downtime cost in real dollar amounts, we’ve created a simple formula for you to follow:

Assume your revenues are $150,000 at 98% uptime.

At 98% uptime (for which you would need a reliable API to determine), you would multiply the hours in a quarter (1536) by your downtime (0.2 or 2%) to get 31 downtime hours in a quarter.

.02 Downtime Percentage * 1536 Hours in a Quarter = 31 Downtime Hours

Subtract the number of downtime hours from the total hours in a quarter to get your uptime hours.

1536 Quarterly Hours – 31 Downtime Hours = 1525 Uptime Hours

In this case, you now have 1525 hours left in the quarter. Now, divide your quarterly revenue by the hours left in the quarter to get your hourly income for that quarter.

$150,000 Total Quarterly Revenue/1525 Uptime Hours = $98 Per Hour of Revenue

Now multiply the dollar amount per hour of revenue by your downtime hours.

31 Downtime Hours * $98 Per Hour of Revenue = $3,038 Potentially Lost Revenue Per Quarter.

The key takeaway here is the realization that, even at 98% uptime and a with a modest revenue, the cost to your business can still be sizable.

And this is only taking into account sales revenue, not even lost customer base.

3. Network Downtime Cost: Reputation loss

Imagine if a brick and mortar business shut down for a collective “break” for a few minutes to an hour during its busiest time each day.

Is that “closed” sign causing people to huff and puff and walk away, never to return again?

How long do you think your reputation could survive network failure? If you run a time intensive business, perhaps some online app with fierce competition from other sites, even a few minutes of downtime might send someone away from your service to the next guy.

In August of 2013, the New York Times’ website went down for a mere two hours during the middle of the day. How did it impact their customer base? Stocks dropped, and the Wall Street Journal took advantage, dropping their paywall just to soak up the Times’ customer base.

Moving up in the world of internet domination, we see that when Google went down for a total of five minutes back in 2013, total internet traffic dropped by 40%. Of course, Google is too big to fail in this instance, but imagine the impact this had on a myriad of businesses across the globe.

How many customers might be patient enough to click refresh a few times? With some APIs, you might be able to mitigate this problem with a special apology to your customers.

Again, you may not see a few minutes of network failure as a problem, but first impressions are important, and your competitors are right next door waiting for your website to fail.

4. Network Downtime Cost: SEO and SERP

Depending on how often downtime occurs for your website, you may or may not experience a change in your SERP rankings. And how often and when Google crawls your site really depends on many factors other than downtime.

But if left unattended, your network problems could quickly become much larger bouts of network failure, leaving your rankings in danger of dropping dramatically.

According to some anecdotal data, Google has responded to queries about dropped rankings by saying that if they are unable to access a page more than a few times in a row, they drop the site from their index altogether.

Now, the more traffic a site gets, the more the Googlebots crawl, so, again, you may experience very little change in your rankings because of network downtime.

Conclusion:

Now that we’ve painted a dire enough picture for you, let’s mitigate these risks, at least a little bit.

As we mentioned before, to know how much uptime, and ultimately how much downtime, your site experiences, you need a reliable and affordable API to augment your current dashboard.

Our new SiteUptime Website Monitor API 2.0 can create up to six monitors which you can access from a single widget.

Check out our demo account.  Here you see that we offer a wide range of graphic reports making it easy to see when your server was down, how often, and even average response times.

As you know, how long a site takes to load may determine how long a customer stays on your site. If each page on your site takes ages to load, how likely is it a customer is going to continue to browse your site. Now you can monitor whether those animations on your site are an attractive burden or not.

Now you can monitor whether those animations on your site are an attractive burden or not.

And as you fix your downtime problems, Uptime’s new API will give you a chance to communicate to your customers with a customizable public status page, which will hopefully assuage any damage to your reputation.

From a wide monitor load to an excellent graphical interface, you now have the tools in your hand to find and root out any problems causing network downtime for your website.

SiteUpTime’s New API: Easy Access to Easy Monitoring

Websites can be knocked offline by many different causes. Server or webmaster errors, DDoS attacks and even data center power failures can take your website out of commission.

Knowledge is power. The sooner you know there is a problem, the sooner you can begin finding a solution.

That’s why a comprehensive website monitoring program is so important for your business. And, as always, SiteUptime is dedicated to providing you with that system.

We help to ensure that your site is up and running when your customers visit.

And now, the best way to monitor your website’s uptime just got better. SiteUptime’s new API system gives you the freedom to control your monitors from anywhere. With the new SiteUptime Website Monitor API 2.0, you can easily make adjustments and changes to your website monitoring program—whether you are tracking a single website or hundreds.

Just set up your API using a remote custom script and then begin exploring the ways instant access and control can make your web monitoring even better.

Benefits of Using SiteUptime Website Monitor API 2.0

Based on the easy to implement REST protocols and using JSON language, our new API provides your web development team with an array of options for monitoring and design. In addition to being able to add or change monitors, SiteUptime’s API 2.0 allows you to easily access and integrate monitoring statistics into your custom dashboard. You’ll be able to customize and implement new monitoring for each of your websites or clients efficiently using the new API 2.0.

Here are just a few of the ways to make use of this powerful interface:

  • Collect information on every monitor. Use the GET function to create an output and performance list for all of the devices or services that you have selected for monitoring. Using the GET function permits quick access to all of your monitoring activity for every domain. Then, you can share, analyze and track the details in your own database or custom dashboard.
  • Gather results for a single monitor. The GET function paired with a single monitor’s ID allows you to retrieve specific information. Set up an interface that collects individual monitor data for individual clients or staffers. With this feature, your developers can create scripts that access information when needed and integrate that information into your custom reporting program.
  • Add or delete monitors from your service list. With POST and PUT commands, monitors can be added or updated from your control panel. DELETE removes monitors that no longer need to be covered. Using a customized script, you can add new domains in bulk without having to re-enter or transfer information manually.
  • Automate the handling of multiple client sites. If you are a service provider, then API provides you the best method for automating your onboarding process for new client domains. Add SiteUptime’s monitoring service for each new client using the SiteUptime API. Our RESTful API makes it easy for you to connect your internal systems or third party apps like Zapier. Set your protocols and let automation take care of the rest.
  • Assign actions based on real-time data. Use our API to integrate your monitoring information with PagerDuty.com or another notification system. Create webhooks that direct communications through your team’s system. Use these custom scripts to download single or multiple monitor data sets and distribute them through your customized alert and action center. With full integration, assigned engineers and developers can be kept informed and updated effortlessly. Customize your notification system further by sending out different notices based on outage times, urgency, repair progress and node locations.
  • View status reports using your own control panel or dashboard. SiteUptime’s Website Monitor API allows you to track and view information in the format that your users prefer. With API, you can instantly download and integrate monitor performance information into your organization’s control panel or dashboard. Adding performance reports from SiteUptime into your existing reporting system eases communication and analysis. You can compare the performance of various web servers and web pages by downloading bulk information on all your monitors. Bring agility to your analytics with fast access to full information.

Easy to Use, Easy to Integrate

SiteUptime’s API is available free with your Standard or Pro account. By using a straightforward REST API, SiteUptime has made it easy for developers to incorporate performance details and related information into their existing environments. Getting started is simple. Following our step-by-step instructions, your developer can have you connected and in control in no time.

To connect your application to SiteUptime’s service, you’ll need to first obtain an API Key. If you are a Standard or Pro User, just access your account and select the API button. If you aren’t already a Standard or Pro, you’ll need to upgrade before the next step.

Next, choose the APIv2.0 link and create an API key. You’ll need to include this API key in the ‘X-Auth-API-Key’ header or Basic HTTP Authentication password field each time to send an API request.

Once you have the API key, follow the instruction in our API documentation for quick implementation of the tasks you want and need. If you have questions, just contact our customer service center for fast and accurate assistance.

Why SiteUptime Monitoring with API?

Minute count when your site is offline. According to Inc.com, downtime for a webstore is the “kiss of death.” Downtime costs include the loss of potential and future sales as consumers who can’t find what they want at your website will head elsewhere. Even for sites not dedicated to e-commerce downtime costs can add up quickly. Loss of production because employees can’t access data portals, tools, and apps are an unrecoverable cost.

The best approach to avoid downtime losses is a proactive one. Using SiteUptime Monitoring and integrating our data with your own instant-response plan allows you to minimize website downtimes.

Information is power. Our API system allows you to gather all the information you need in the format you want. Essential staff can be notified immediately when action needs to be taken and quickly review data using your business’s dashboard.

By integrating communications and information across our platform and yours you can get back up and running fast. Additionally, the option to download and integrate data allows you to identify trends and weaknesses across domains.

If you aren’t already a Standard or Pro User, now is the time to enroll. Start monitoring smarter with SiteUptime’s API 2.0.