Website Hacked and Who Is Responsible?

Hacked ComputerThe words “My website got hacked!” send shivers down many people’s spines, even more so web developers. Why? Because the question often comes down to who is responsible. Simply put, the hacker is responsible. No one asked for this.

The real question is this: Who is responsible for cleaning things up? It is a good question. Much of the answer depends upon how your website is built. If it is an all HTML site, this is going to place a greater burden upon the developer. If this a CMS, content managed system site, such as WordPress, Drupal or Joomla, then the answer is: It depends.

WordPress is a free, open source software, and its terms of service states that the software is licensed under the GNU General Public License. The GNU General Public License (GNU GPL or simply GPL) is a widely used, free software license which guarantees end users the freedom to run, study, share and modify the software. There is no guarantee to performance or anything else. Unfortunately, it is also the system hackers like to target because the software is free for them to view as well.

Over 74,000,000 or 25% of the web is powered by WordPress. This makes WordPress a popular target for hackers to look at as well, because a single virus has many places to check out. Good website developers do their best to have a website built properly to make it more difficult to have hackers break in.

However, that still does not answer the question of who’s responsible for fixing the website once it’s hacked. Here are a few items to consider.

• How did the hack occur?
– Was it password compromised? If so, through whose password?
– Was the virus or hack accidentally uploaded and by whom?
– Was it a vulnerability that snuck in between updates? (If you ever wonder why there are so many updates, it is usually because of added features or fixed bugs including those that hackers have exploited.)

• Is there a security agreement in place?
– Security is different than hosting, different than maintenance and different than management
– Are there disclaimers or limits within the security agreement?

Essentially, without some type of security agreement in place, the burden of fixing the website will land on the owner of the website, unless the owner can show negligence by the hosting service or developer.

A hacked website is similar to a flat tire on a car. Without some type of roadside warranty on your tire, you need to show negligence in order to prove someone else is at fault. Otherwise, the owner of the car is stuck taking care of a flat tire, even if it is a brand new set of tires.

We certainly would not want to leave this on such a dismal note, so here are some suggestions to consider.

• Have a regular maintenance schedule
– Although this is no guarantee against hacking, it offers a huge layer of protection. Many updates are put in place AFTER hacks and vulnerabilities are discovered.
– Auto updates are a tool to consider as well

• Secure passwords
– This is one of your No. 1 defenses and helps to ensure your site is protected.

• Limited access to users
– Editor hacks would be less severe than an admin hack

• Good hosting, which allows for regular backups
– If the hack is discovered early enough, sometimes it can be fixed simply by rolling the site back to some point in the last thirty days. Note, a review of all systems, plugins, software and theme updates should be done as part of the rollback process.

• Monitor plugins

• Site-wide backup of source files

• SSL Certificate, which are files that allow secure connections between a web server and browser

• Consider third party solutions when collecting sensitive information like credit card data or personal information.

• Site Lock Plans
– Daily malware scanning and removal (manual removal may cost extra)

• Have a security agreement in place
– This does not guarantee your website won’t be hacked. It is more like insurance. If your site is hacked, you have insurance to help take care of the problem.

Even with all the above efforts, hackers are still trying to get in. If Target and Home Depot websites can get hacked with the security these corporations have in place, there is no 100% guarantee you can prevent it from happening to you. Unfortunately, there is not one perfect cure-all.

How does a security agreement work?
Essentially, the person supplying the plan is most likely taking many if not all the suggestions above and putting them into use. On top of that, they are factoring in time to take care of the hacks that still get through, because they know that a percentage of websites, even with protections, still have the possibility of issues.

Unless the hackers themselves are nabbed, the question is not so much who is responsible, but what allowed the hack to occur and how is it going to be fixed? Hopefully, if you do not have a security agreement, you were fortunate to choose a web developer willing to work with you to remedy the problem.

SEO Reality

SEO Reality

SEO RealitySEO reality sometimes gets lost when it is coming from telemarketers and fast talking salespeople. Add on top the lack of knowledge and confusion and finding a good SEO person feels like a gamble.

With people not really knowing what they are buying many people can set their own price. Some places charge up to $300 just to tell you what is broke. I like to use actions instead of words. I rather go into a meeting with a written analysis of on-site SEO as well as off-site SEO and why I believe the strategy will have an impact.

Real SEO efforts are like grains of sand on a scale adding weight. Because search engines guard exactly how they rank it can be difficult knowing exactly how much effort or time it will take. The moment someone guarantees page 1 rankings without paid advertising, a red flag should immediately jump out. Just ask Google.

Confusion is sometimes created with acronyms used by Internet techys, especially when terms are similar.  For example; SEO, search engine optimization means to rank organically (laymen’s terms for natural or unpaid ranking obtained through strategy). SEM, search engine marketing means buying adds to advertise on Internet pages.

Although I do both, the long term SEO strategy and goal is to make it easier for someone to find you versus you searching and paying for them (as in one click at a time).

Not everyone may find this stuff as super cool and interesting as maybe I do. It is like a gaming strategy creating the most opportune chance to be successful along with the reward of watching a site rise higher in standings which will result in greater success.

At the end of an SEO meeting, there are a number of options:

• Do nothing (yes deciding to do nothing is still a decision)
• Do it yourself
• Use someone else
• Hire me

It is really that simple. What does it cost you to look?

Spam Season is Here

spamSummer is wrapping up and spammers are at it with messages like:

I’m experiencing issues loading your site on my mobile device. This is a fairly common issue, especially since this April, when Google started heavily rewarding sites with a speedy mobile user experience, and punishing those with bulky, lagging designs that aren’t suited to small, vertical screens. With over 50 percent of people browsing the internet with their phones, that’s a fair share of the market to consider.

My team has over ten years of experience developing elastic designs that can be viewed on any device. We’re also Google Partners and have received accolades from Inc. Magazine and the LA Business Journal. We would be happy to jump on a call with you to review these problems and more to help your brand get the best online visibility possible. What day this week works best for a call?
Your website is not being seen by major search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.

Your domain name expires now.

I am death and hearing impaired and……

Things to look for:
• Did they list a website of theirs?
•Did they give a phone number in which a real person answers (if you want to risk calling it?)
•Is the return email addresses Gmail or other generic mail service.
•Are there misspellings.
•Does it just smell wrong?

If in doubt, check with your web developer. There is a good chance they are starting to put together a form note since it is now happening so much. Some like me may be tired of it and actually make a blog post.

These are scammers and spammers, so be careful.

To Like or Not to Like, That is the Facebook Question

10472388_sMy hand hovered over the Like button with confusion this week when someone posted an obituary. This is known as a Facebook vocabulary challenge.

How do you like something that you do not like or is sad or unsure of the situation, but want to connect with the person?

The reality is that it is OK to click like as it is a “button” and although the text says “like” what it truly indicates is that you are connected to the person and acknowledge the reading of it and the connection to your friend.

In an ideal world perhaps Facebook would give us buttons such as Like, Not Like, Are You Freaking Kidding Me and a Right On button.

Until then, connect with your friends even if it is sharing on happy news and let them know you are there in both the good and challenging times.

Social Media & E-Marketing at NWTC

Social Media ClassBill Koehne of Packerland Websites will be teaching Social Media & E-Marketing at NWTC in Oconto Falls.

He will provide an overview of social media tools including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Other medium and online tools will be presented as well as enhance your business using social media tools and develop effective social media strategies.

Classes are fun and informative. Real life examples of your group or business will be used as part of the presentation. Bill is a website designer, SEO specialist and provides social media services. Come learn what he has to share for your project.

Capacity is limited to 16 students who will be using the computer lab where most set up work is done right in class.

Cost: $61.13
Time: Tuesdays (6) 4:30-7:30 PM
Dates: Starting March 31, 2015 & Ending May 5, 2015
Location: NWTC Oconto Falls.

Click Here to sign up or call

Multilingual WordPress Site

9434384_sThinking of a multilingual blog or WordPress site? The good news is there is an easy, stable way to create one.

After researching a number of options (which will hopefully save you some time now), I found one that was the best solution. I have worked with Google translator and a couple other options, but found this to be the best solution when working with a WordPress website. The price is reasonable, and the control is wonderful.

My initial purchase, installation and setup were all relatively smooth on the first website I tested it on. With a bit of patience, things were set up quite nicely. As always, you should be updated to the most current version of WordPress.

If you are looking for a plug-in that converts the language for you, this is not it. What this plug-in does is virtually creates complimentary pages for your pages and posts which you can then switch between. In other words, it makes the user responsible for providing an accurate translation for the visitors.

You can do SEO, Search Engine Optimization for each language separately. You can set SEO attributes for the homepage, internal pages and categories for each language. Translations appear in their unique URL and you can even put different languages in completely different domains. The plugin follows Google Webmaster’s specifications for multilingual sites to the letter, letting your sites rank high on local search results.

You can also edit your URL string, categories and menu items. I did not because my complete blog is not multilingual, just a few posts to test it out. For those clients looking for a bilingual or multilingual website, we are ready to go and happy to provide one for you.

Website Directions

confusedAs I do more web and technology work, I sometimes see myself becoming the techno geek guy that takes things literally. It makes more sense now why. Sometimes a single missing semi colon can mess with an entire page. But, it is not just the technical stuff, but how we communicate.

A good reason to be specific with your website directions and requests can be seen in this short story.
The programmers wife tells him, “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.” The programmer returns later with 12 loaves of bread.

When I ask for a color preference, I sometimes get answers like; warm, rich, hot, high-end and attention getting. These are not colors. One could translate them as orange, gold, red, diamonds and flashing lights. I won’t even get started on the feelings being colors.

I was once asked to place a gold border around a web page. I did so and people thought it was to orange. Gold in a developers eye is and RGB or hexadecimal color as defined as what truly represents the color gold. Do you know how many greens there are? Many more then light, dark, forest and Kermit the frog. Oh, and technically, there is still a green.

Another area is editing text. When asking to have a word change, it would be courteious to reference the page and paragraph instead of saying there is a word that was spelled wrong (despite that it is generally copied and pasted from text supplied) to remove this reference from the website. It is what helps to keep minor maintenance minor.

When we ask for text we are asking for actual text. This is not photo copies, photos, pdfs, faxes or hand written notes. Text is something that can be copied and pasted into a word format. This is important as it helps to assure it is written and spell checked before receiving as well as timely for placing in the website.

Plus, Google reads text. Human beings can read letters printed on paper or shown on photos, but not Google. Search engines are our friends, so let’s keep them happy.

We really want to avoid the statement, “What I really meant…” Try and be concise and you will actually get a better product. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. And please, do not be offended if it sounds like you are being asked the same question twice because it probably means the first answer did not computer or register in a techno brained person’s mind.

Because, good enough is not good enough.

MapQuest Local Business Center (LBC) is shutting down

MapquestlogonewWe wanted to inform you that the basic version of the MapQuest Local Business Center (LBC) is shutting down. As of January 31, 2014, you will no longer be able to access your listings account within the basic version of the LBC.

What does this mean for businesses? Well, life may have gotten a bit more complicated. On the other hand, it may have you reviewing how you appear on the Internet. Packerland Websites provides services to see that you are listed properly along with valuable and legitimate incoming links to your business.

There are fifty key directories you want to be listed on and listed accurately. Many do give listings for free and often times they may or may not be accurate. They also give you a NAP. This is not sleepy time. It is you name, address and phone number only.

Good SEO had many of us going in and claiming business listing to give more information by hand. This is time consuming, dull, loaded with future junk mail and it may be inputted the best it can be.

Would you like to know how your business appears? Great, I have the tool for you on my website at Packerland’s Online Business Scan Page in which you can use my online business scanner to check.

Making sure you are listed on directories and listed properly is good SEO. We not only help with this, but we can add in images, videos, categories, decryptions offers and much more. Plus, when we set it up, your listing is a power listing, which ranks and is found quicker than the free non powered NAP listings.

I expect other directory sites will be going this route as well. Things are Free for only so long. It is my business to help your business gets found. So, get it done by January 31 or contact me and see how I can help your presence out on the Internet.

Mobile Design

Mobile Design, often called responsive design is something new and so it does pull some hype. I think a lot of it is driven from people working with WordPress and since that is database, it is easy for a new person to work with it. However, it makes your creative design very limited. BUT, it does not mean that it is something new, cool and the direction future websites may go.

The question is if it is time to jump into one.

Every time I build a website, I try to create a vision statement and purpose the website is suppose to accomplish. Some websites like benefit with mobile response in the properties area because they can add QR codes to the for sale signs which are designed for mobile devices.

Other websites like a restaurant or storefront may benefit if people are looking for a number or address on their mobile device. Northwood Distillery puts a QR code on Heath Rum posters that take them to the mobile recipes page. But again these are QR driven and make more sense to have a website that is mobile friendly.

One solution is an automatic mobile redirect. It is more devices specific and still allows the user to go to the main site if they wish. Here is a couple that I did: (you can buy tickets via mobile also)

The bottom line comes down to, how many of your desired visitors are going to use a mobile device and why? I think I sell a lot of sites because I approach it as a marketing solution. I charge my client a one-time cost of $150 for this and since it is part of the main website, there is no additional hosting.

Responsive may be the best option for you and is something Packerland Websites offers. More importantly is determining what Internet marketing strategy will achieve the best return on investment and serve the purpose it is intended.

Packerland Donates $1 per like to support Project Adam

Packerland Websites is donating $1 for each page like it receives between Monday, November 18th and Sunday, November 24th, 2013 up to the first 200 likes for Project Adam. Project Adam has saved the life of a friend’s daughter and the money stays in our community.

Share the original Facebook post with this promotion after clicking the like button at and as a BONUS: Just for sharing the original post FROM your name will be entered into a drawing for prizes including a hydro-massage from Frain Family Chiropractic and thumbdrives from Packerland Websites.

Letter from Morgan Frain

My name is Morgan Frain, and I am 4 years old. On Jan. 7, 2012, my mom and dad took me to Lambeau Field in Green Bay for dinner and to play in the atrium. As we were getting ready to leave, my heart suddenly stopped and I fell to the ground. My dad turned me over and saw that my face was blue. He told my mom that they needed to do CPR, and told my 7-year-old sister, Hannah, to run and get help.

My mom started CPR right away, while a nice man from the Green Bay Packers security department brought my dad an automated external defibrillator (AED). My dad put stickers on my chest and the AED told him that my heart needed help. My dad pressed a button, and the AED reminded my heart what it needed to do. My mom and dad are very grateful for the AED, because the doctors at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin said it was the only thing that could have saved my life. Although I will have many more surgeries in the future, I now have my own AED inside my tummy to make sure my heart does what it’s supposed to do.

Project ADAM saves lives by helping Wisconsin schools form AED programs. In fact, Project ADAM just gave a grant to my sister’s school, Notre Dame of De Pere, to make sure their staff gets the training they need on how to use an AED.

My mom says I am very lucky because I already know that my mission in life is to help save the lives of other children just like me.

– Morgan Frain (with my mommy’s help), guest blogger


Our Annual Celebrate Life Event & Fundraiser raises money to support Project ADAM. Project ADAM helps fund AED programs in schools across the nation, and most recently provided paid CPR/AED training for the teachers and staff of Notre Dame Elementary and Middle Schools in De Pere. To date, Project ADAM has helped save over 50 lives! Please join us in celebrating life!

Sincerely, Patrick, Susan, Hannah & Morgan Frain