Mr. Robot, Adele, and Security Practices

Mr. Robot is an acclaimed drama that features the life of a security consultant by day and a hacker by night. While that may not sound like compelling television to most people, the nerds among us were delighted by a show that prided itself on incredible accuracy, especially when dealing with cyber security.

While my wife and I were binging it recently, at times I had to stop and explain a few of the references the characters were making, particularly how a company would get hacked and by whom.

When Security Goes Wrong

A few years back, a third-party site that partnered with the agency I worked for was compromised and took down almost every site we managed or hosted. I’ll spare you the details of the situation, but regardless it’s not the sort of text you want to get at 6am.

It took almost 48 hours of nonstop work, but we were able to get all the sites cleaned out of malware and back online, but it opened up a larger conversation within our digital team about security practices and how we can make sure something like that never happens again.

How That Experienced Shaped Our Security Practices

We take security very seriously at 1981 and there isn’t a day that goes by where we don’t get at alerts that someone is trying to make their way into a client’s site. Thankfully, we have processes in place that prevent that from happening.

We can’t sit back and relax entirely, however; it’s an ongoing fight, as technology changes and hackers evolve to find new ways to maliciously take control of data.

Now this isn’t to say that there’s literally a person sitting on a laptop across the country trying to break into your site. 99% of the time, hacking is done on a large scale across thousands of sites by bots and yours might just happen to be on a list that it comes across. There’s more information about that here, but because these are automated attacks, it makes things a little easier to keep your area secure.

How 1981 Keeps Website Secure:

  • Daily backups – For each hosting server we have two other identically configured ones. There is a backup server used for the daily backup of all client data. It can replace the operational server in a few minutes. In this case a spare server is ready to replace the backup server. Thus we guarantee a 99.9% uptime. We understand your Internet business is of utmost importance and give our best to provide you with full access at anytime of day and night, 365 days a year.
  • iThemes Security – 1981 builds almost all of our sites on top of WordPress, which accounts for 37% of all websites on the internet. With that much exposure, it means there is a large community focused on keeping WordPress as secure as possible, but it also puts a big target on the platform. This is why we use the best security plugin available – iThemes Security – to keep out intruders.
  • While we’re talking about WordPress, we also make sure plugins and core updates are automatically kept up to date on sites that we maintain. WordPress releases critical patches quite often and we use bulk management tools to make sure that all of our sites are current.
  • Passwords – we are very serious about passwords around here, with almost all of ours being a 20-30 character random string of special characters, capitalizations, and punctuation variations. Anymore, this is becoming less recommended and the industry is starting to lean towards longer strings that are less random and more personal (or easy to remember, anyway), such as lyrics to your favorite song, the title of your favorite book, a movie quote, etc.
    My own email password until recently was: “Rolling In The Deep!” and did a good job of keeping the haters out. We also heavily recommend a good (free!) password manager, such as Bitwarden or 1Password.

There are a lot of other cool things happening behind the scenes involving file permissions, server management, good coding, uptime monitoring, and other tools. It’s a big job, but we’re dedicated to doing it. We’re glad that you’ve trusted us with your business’ online presence and we want to make sure that it is secure as possible.

Currently Listening To: