The Big Red Screen of Death
If you’ve ever visited your site and seen this (or visited someone else’s site) it can make your heart sink and scare the heck out of you.
I know – it happened to me on THREE sites in two weeks!
And worse yet two of my associates called me to say they too had the Google Big Red Screen of Death!
Well I knew that the problem “might” have been that we were ALL guilty of not keeping our WordPress updated to the current version – opps – and we all know better – just was busy doing other’s work – so the updating lapsed – which happens to the best of us.
Clicking on the “Why was this page blocked?” can be a little overwhelming and downright confusing to a novice!
One client kept calling me, “I don’t understand! What are they asking me to do? What do I need to do?”
Here are some of the tips I gave her:
- Update everything; WordPress and all your plugin’s (take a Backup first!)
- Run a Malware scan, either using BackUpBuddy’s built in Malware scanner or a free scan through Sucuri.
- (Please note: in two of the cases, hers and mine, the sites were not WordPress, they were FrontPage sites – OLD sites. So I suggested, and did myself, upload the latest backup to see if that would take care of the problem of the malware, which it did.)
- Log in to Google’s WebMaster Tools and ask for a review of the site.
Now Here’s the Catch!
If you have never added your sites to your Google account and/or are not using Google Webmaster Tools no reports will be there and you have no place to ask for a review.
Google WebMaster Tools
Chalked full of information and tips – you really need to add your sites here and it’s easy! Sign up for it – it’s FREE – and start adding your sites:
Here you have several reports, such as Site Health! And this is where you can also get notified if you have been blacklisted and ask for a review once you clean up your site.
How to Keep Your Site Clean
Let’s go a little deeper, although because of the “mean-nasty-I don’t have anything to do except to see if I can hack your site” people out there, there is no guarantee; HOWEVER doing some of the suggestions below will put you at less risk and give you more peace of mind.
Dre Armeda, founder of Sucuri, did a training for iThemes and here are some of my take a ways I’d like to share with you – and don’t just read them – go DO them after you’re finished reading this article!
It all starts with your computer – not your web site!
- Keep your computer and software up-to-date
- Install and keep updated your anti-virus and firewalls (I use SystemSuite Professional – Small fee and Malwarebytes Anti-Malware – FREE)
- Run your anti-virus at least weekly
- Use a password manager and keep all your passwords in a safe place, such as KeePass Password Safe – it’s FREE!)
- Change your passwords often
- Don’t share your passwords
WordPress Security Tips
As of this writing there are 57,269,277 WordPress sites in the world! (See http://en.wordpress.com/stats/ for more stats)! WOW!!!
- Keep WordPress updated
- Research plugins and themes before installing
- Keep plugins updated
- Delete plugins and themes you are not using
- Don’t install WordPress using Fantastico (the five minute install) – Have it installed SECURLEY!
- Before installing WordPress, change your wp-config file, making sure you enter in the secret salt key (https://api.wordpress.org/secret-key/1.1/salt/ ) and changing the table prefix from wp_ to something else!
- Don’t use a FREE WordPress theme unless it’s in the WordPress Directory. These themes and premium themes that you pay for (I highly recommend themes by iThemes) have high standards and need to meet certain criteria before going into the directory. Free themes that you found on Google can have several things embedded in them: encoded text links to promote various products and links to places you do NOT want your visitors to go to. Example: I was first starting out and a Spa I was working on found a free theme and had me install it. Well in the footer was a masked link that took one to a gambling site – and it could not be removed! The spa owner did not want her site to be represented that way. Eventually I installed iThemes Builder and built her site. To learn more, here is an article that Dre recommended: Why You Should Never Search For Free WordPress Themes
- Don’t use ADMIN as a WordPress user name (If you are using Admin as a log in user now, log into your WordPress Dashboard and go to Users. Add a new User that has Admin privileges. Log out and log back in with the new log in and then go back and delete the User Admin).
- Create and use a STRONG WordPress log in password
- Check to see how safe your web hosting company is. In your browser’s address bar type in: google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site=YOURHOSTINGCOMPANYWEBSITE.com I use Host Gator so my URL would look like this: http://google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site=hostgator.com
These are just some of the items Dre Armeda, Founder of Sucuri touched on. To view the presentation, begin the video below:
How to Clean Up Your Site
After doing all the above there still is no guarantee that your WordPress site might not get hacked or blacklisted by Google or other browsers.
And if you don’t know HOW or have the TIME to clean your site and ask Google to review it, then I HIGHLY recommend using Sucuri Scanning Services. That is whom I turned to.
What I liked about them is they are FAST – with in four hours my site was cleaned and they even submitted it to Google to review. And I found that Google seems to review your site faster than when you ask for a review (which could take 2-3 days). Mine never took more than a day using Sucuri.
PLUS Sucuri continues to scan your site(s)! An ongoing service that is well worth the cost and peace of mind!
Sucuri has a variety of plans to choose from – so go and see what’s best for you!
And if you need any other help or training, please contact me via phone 410-586-9440 or email – Happy Security!