Dec 19

How to secure your WordPress website?

How to secure your WordPress website

In our previous article we learned “How to Build a WordPress Website” and today we’re closely inspecting the most important aspect of a website – its security.
One of the worst things that can happen to you online is to invest your time and efforts into building your website and then, out of nowhere, the website gets hacked by some 10 years old hacker wannabe for no particular reason. Fortunately, there are many plugins that can help you increase the security of your WordPress website and we’re going to look through the most popular of them.

However, before we begin with our list of favourite WordPress security plugins, please, make sure that you follow the 4 simple rules below in order to prevent security issues with your WordPress website.

1. Always make sure your WordPress website and its themes and plugins are updated to their latest version. Believe it or not, this is the most common reason why the hackers are using vulnerabilities in your code from which they can exploit your website.

2. Remove any unused WordPress themes and/or plugins. If you do not use it then remove it from your website. This you will help you decrease the number of potential security holes in your website and make it harder to being exploited.

3. Make sure that your local computer is clean from malicious software and it is being regularly scanned with updated and, most importantly, trusted antivirus software. This is very important because in case your computer is infected, your login details may be intercepted and used to hack your website. This can happen when you are entering your admin login details from your infected computer. That’s why it’s important to keep your computer clean from viruses.

4. Perform regular backups. It is one of the easiest things to do. Just download your website files and folders to your local computer regularly, for just in case something unwanted happens to the website. As a leading hosting provider, we at TMDHosting perform regular backups for your website files and database. However, having a local backup on your computer will provide you with one additional layer of security which is always a good thing.

WordPress is one of the most popular CSM applications and it has a very extensive catalogue of plugins of which you should take advantage. For your convenience we have selected the 5 most popular and, in my opinion, the best plugins with which you can increase the security of your WordPress website. Let’s take a look:

1. Akismet

Akismet - Fight the spam with Akismet WordPress plugin
This plugin comes by default with every single WordPress installation for a reason. Unfortunately, it is one of the most overlooked plugins of all times. What the Akismet plugin does is to protect your website comments from spam and trust me – Akismet is really good at it. You can read more on how to fight against spam in one of our previous articles “How to fight the internet trolls and spam bots in your site comment section” written by Morgan Collins.

You can download this plugin from the following url: http://wordpress.org/plugins/captcha/

2. Captcha 

Captcha - WordPress plugin which will spam-proof your websiteEven though it has mythical superpowers, the Akismet sometimes can’t protect you enough from all of those aggressive spam bots. This is where the Captcha plugin comes in by adding an additional verification box to your website comments and member login pages. This will stop those clever spam comments that will slip through the fingers of Akismet and should spam-proof your WordPress website.

You can download this plugin from the following url: http://wordpress.org/plugins/captcha/ 

3. Limit Login

Limit Login - Protect your WordPress website from bruteforce attacksWhile the above mentioned two plugins are directly protecting your website from unwanted spam comments, this Limit Login plugin is directly protecting your WordPress administration area by preventing the number of different attacks on the login section such as the dictionary attacks, and the random password guessing. In case someone tries to access your WordPress admin area too many times, the Limit Login locks down your login section and bans the attacker temporarily. However, the sweetest feature of this Limit Login plugin is that it immediately sends you an e-mail informing you if someone made malicious attempts to hack your website.

You can download this plugin from the following url: http://wordpress.org/plugins/limit-login-attempts/ 

4. Better WP Security

Better WP Security - Security suite for every WordPress websiteOnce your comments are protected from the spambots you should take care of the security of your WordPress website and protect it from hacker wannabes. The Better WP Security plugin consists of some of the best WordPress security features and techniques which are ready to be applied to your WordPress at instance in order to increase its security.

As with every single plugin I would highly recommend you to make yourself familiar with this plugin as it can even change the admin login url (as a security measure) and you might get locked out of your own website. However, in case you are experiencing issues with your plugins you can always submit a ticket to our Genius Support team who are always available to help you out of any situation.

You can download this plugin from the following url: http://wordpress.org/plugins/better-wp-security/ 

5. WP Updates Notifier

WP Updates Notifier - Be always up to date.
More than 90% of the hacked WordPress websites are being hacked due to the fact that either they were outdated or some of their third party themes and plugins are having security holes. This humble free plugin notifies you by email whenever there is any update available for your installed plugins, themes or WordPress core files. I find this plugin very useful because I manage to handle multiple WordPress websites and some of them are quite old and not regularly administered. However, with this little plugin you can always be up to date which, as we already mentioned, is crucial for your website security.

You can download this plugin from the following url: http://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-updates-notifier/

To sum it up – the above plugins are somewhat essential for every WordPress website security. Unfortunately, there is no single plugin to provide you with 100% guarantee that it will secure your website from malicious activities. For this reason, you might want to consider installing a number of the plugins we discussed. You can also browse through the extensive WordPress plugins library and choose the plugins you want to try but remember to read user reviews and try to avoid installing low-rated plugins.

Do you have your favourite WordPress security plugins? Share them in the comments below and stay tuned for our next article and most importantly – stay safe!

Dec 11

Hotmail custom domains or how to ensure a 100% successful delivery for your emails

Hello everybody!

It is once again Simon Davis from TMDHosting Genius Support Team  with another great article following up our tradition - #TechWednesday. In today’s article I would like not only to address a known issue of your emails being recognized as spam but also to extend a little bit more an article my colleague  wrote few weeks ago.

That moment when your message is flagged as spam!

Everyone has experienced that moment when a message is sent from you personal email account, which you have just created with your brand new domain name and that message is received in the spam folder of your recipient’s mailbox. This could be very frustrating especially when you have done nothing wrong for this to happen.

Assuming that your message is valid (there is no reason for the same to be flagged as spam when it comes to the subject and the body of the message) the only possible reason for such issue is if the IP address of the outgoing mail service you are using for sending the message is with low reputation in the Blacklist organizations used by your recipients MTA for filtering the incoming messages.

The solution to the puzzle!

Here in TMDHosting we are doing our best to provide our customers with spam free Hosting service with our 0 tolerance to spam senders, our own custom spam filters and also our own blacklists for spam senders. However despite all our efforts there is always the probability of spam messages to be sent intentionally from one of the accounts hosted on our servers  or for a legit message to be flagged as spam from one of its recipients. In that case the reputation of the outgoing mail IP address your domain name is using on our servers is either dropped or the IP address get blacklisted by the thousands of active blacklists currently.

There are few solutions to the puzzle you may consider in such situation but I would like to address the ultimate one which will provide you with a safe and straight exit from the labyrinth of frustration and inconvenience – Hotmail Custom Domains !

What exactly is Hotmail Custom Domains and why should you use that service?

Hotmail Custom Domains is a service provided by Hotmail which will basically route your incoming and outgoing mail service via their own mail servers. How cool is that? Your domain name and your web-site will remain hosted with us and in the same time all of your email accounts will be managed by Hotmail.

As a major email service provider Hotmail has proven over the years that they have the most advanced and reliable mail service from probably all of the free email providers around the world. Their outgoing IP addresses cannot be blacklisted by any known blacklist due to the many filters they have for ensuring spam free mail service.

Hotmail Custom Domains..3..2..1.. Lift of!

Requirements 

In order to setup the service for your domain name you will need to ensure the following pre-requirements:

  1. You need to have an active Hotmail account – If you do not have such you can simply create one at Hotmail.
  2. You need to have an active domain name of your possession. 
  3. You will need an access to the DNS management of your domain name as you will need to change the MX record for your domain name. For all our clients this setting can be found in the cPanel service > MX records.

Now, lets set this up!

The setup of the service starts at http://www.domains.live.com/ . Assuming the fact that you are logged in with your Hotmail account the only thing you should do at that page is to simply click on the “Get Started” link:

Get StartedOn the next screen you will need to input your domain name, choose a mail service for it and click on the “Continue” button:

Hotmail Custom Domains

Once you submit this form you will be presented with a summary page where you should verify the submitted information like Domain, Mail service and the email address of the administrator which is your actual Hotmail account and lastly input the code from the security image.

After the submitted data is verified you will be redirected to the Domain Settings page of your brand new service. The first thing you will notice on that page will be the Warning message at the top:

Domain verification
This message is prompted due to the fact that your domain name is still not verified . In order to verify the domain name ownership you will need to follow the provided information on the same page related to Mail setup .

MX EntryThe Hotmail team took care for the verification process and the process of pointing your MX records to be combined into a single MX record added to the DNS zone of your domain. In order to add this record all clients of TMDHosting can simply go to their cPanel service and access the MX Entry feature.

MX Records Edit

As suggested from the image above you will need to either edit the record with 0 priority or if yo u do not have such at all you should simply create it via the Add New Record Interface also shown above.

MX records

The Destination of the record need to be set as suggested from the Mail setup part of the Hotmail Domain Settings page. Keep in mind that changing/adding a DNS record such as the MX record will require for 24 hours period of time to be allowed in order for the propagation period to pass. During that period your emails might be still received on their old location and not on your new service.

Once you setup the MX record properly and hit the Refresh button of the above mentioned Warning message you will be directly presented with the Member accounts page. On that page by simply pressing the Add button you will be able to add all of your email accounts.
Adding email accounts

 You will notice a message after you add each and every account from the interface that the created account is ready for activation. Well, as strange as it might look every new account you create there need to be manually activated. This fortunately is quite an easy job – by simply logging into each email account and filling the required fields you will easily handle the activation process.

As I mentioned “logging” this process will no longer require for you to go to your cPanel Webmail service and login with the email account which is the action you normally do for your email accounts with us. Instead Hotmail provides you with fully functional mail interface the same as those they provide to all their users with email accounts @hotmail.com. So if you would like to login into your newly added accounts and verify them you will have to do it via the Hotmail home page .

Setting up your email client with the new settings for your Hotmail Custom Domains service!

Last but not least what is a mail account without the option for you to manage it from your local computer. Well, Hotmail took care for this also. You can configure you favorite desktop email client for a normal connection to the Hotmail mail servers and the only thing you need to pay attention to is properly adding your username and password:

IMAP
Hotmail Incoming server Hostname: imap-mail.outlook.com
Port: 993
Encrypted Connection Type: SSL

SMTP
Hotmail Outgoing server Hostname: smtp-mail.outlook.com
Port: 25 or 587
Server Require Authentication (Or just Authentication) : Yes
Encrypted Connection Type: SSL

The username and the password are the same as those you have used for the creation of the new account at the Member accounts page:

Userame: username@yourdomain.com
Password: **********

Well, there you have it an easy and fast way to setup and use the Hotmail Custom Domains service for all of your email accounts.

Of course all our users can benefit from the free installation service we are offering for all of the services we are offering. The only thing they need to do is to simply submit a support ticket to our Genius Support department and they will gladly do all the rest.

Dec 10

Hello, new TMDHosting.com design!

Hello everybody! It has been a very busy and exciting quarter at our offices. As you might have already noticed, we have released a brand new website last week. This introductory post was intentionally delayed so that we can fix all these little things that might have been bugging, still if you find something you think is not appropriate, do not hesitate to report it to our team.

After months of work, coordinated between every single department in our company, we have finally finished our first rebranding milestone – to release a new company website. We wanted to create sleek, clean and business oriented design which is easy to follow, find information within and make yourself feel convenient while browsing it.

First of all, you will notice that we have changed completely our color scheme. We picked up warm and comforting colors, which do not irritate the visitor and makes the information we need to provide easy to read.

Another very important aspect of our new design is our new logo, which is also designed in a minimal style, so it stands out and in the same time does not blink or flash too much.

We are on the market since 2007 and for the years behind, we have proved that we love what we do. This is the main reason for everything we start – from the smallest to the biggest project – to be performed in the most precise way. We are simply dedicated to providing our Customers with outstanding services. Thus we have decided to tie this company philosophy in our new slogan and you can officially refer to us as The Most Dedicated hosting company.

A very important change you will immediately notice is our new mascot. By the moment of launching our new website, we are still calling it Freddie – this was his name during the project.

We believe, however, you will find it a new name, one that fits better, and we have planned an exciting game for this purpose. It is planned to take place in January 2014, so keep an eye further.

Changes are not only visual, though! We have added a bunch of new dedicated servers - you can now benefit from the latest Intel E3 series versions. Our VPS plans were seriously revamped, so that you can scale them easier.

Last but not least we have finally launched Europe hosting location to meet the growing needs of our overseas Customers. The European hosting infrastructure we are using is located in facilities that meet the very high standards we have for our US based locations. It is located in Amsterdam, The Netherlands and is an ideal hosting location for every website that has an audience in Europe.

Soon it will be followed by an Asia-Pacific option (expected by the end of Q1 2014).

Our technical support has also evolved a lot in the past years. With all the experience gained, all the tasks handled and all the troubles solved, we have decided to give them an appropriate branding too. The men and the women in our technical support team are so good in what they do, they are so devoted and they solve such complicated issues on a daily basis. They truly deserve to be distinguished by every other technical support out there (no offense, they are simply the best)!

They just do Genius work and they are dubbed Genius Support from now on. This name they have truly earned through the years.

The Genius Team have gotten even better and Geniuses continue to develop on a daily basis. Still, their assistance is included for completely free of charge in every managed package of ours – from the smallest to the biggest one.

So far – so good! We have prepared an exciting new additions to our website that we are working to launch. We will giving them a few detailed posts, still here is a list of newly designed areas that we are expecting to launch soon:

- A brand new Client Area and Support Center
- Redesigned and very lightweight Knowledge Base
- New blog design with more interaction options

We sincerely believe that you have liked our new website design. We have worked very hard on it, making sure that every single detail is drawn and arranged with great precision! Still, if you think that there is room for improvement or you just want to congratulate us – you can do this either in the Facebook post comments or email.

Dec 04

Do you have the best looking website design?

It has been a long and busy year for us at TMDHosting and now that the holidays are approaching, we are organizing an exciting contest for you! We are looking to find out the best looking website that is hosted on our servers and award it with a brand new iPad Air!

Participating in the contest is quite easy and it does not take a lot of time, at all :) All you need to do is to go at our contest page and follow the steps.

The contest is being held at the TMDHosting Facebook page and due to some specifics of the Facebook platform, you participate with a screenshot of your website. We have created a very easy tool for creating screenshots if you do not know how to make one on your own. It can be found at the contest page on our website.

Once you have the screenshot handy, you simply go to the TMDHosting Facebook page, click the Photo Contest button (should be below the cover photo) and submit your website’s screenshot.

As soon as you enroll in the contest, you will be given an unique link that you can use to share your participation among social networks, blogs, instant messengers. Use this link to invite your friends and relatives, so that they can get to help you win the prize – a brand new iPad Air!

Speaking of the prize, I can assure with first-hand information – you really, really, really want to win it. I first thought it is just a marketing trick or something like this, but this device really is thin 7.5mm and weights 1 single pound. It is unbelievably fast and the display is so crisp that everything looks better on it.

On behalf of the entire TMDHosting Team, I would like to wish you good luck in the upcoming contest! May the website with most votes win!