What to do when your website gets hacked: a cautionary tale.

what to do when hackers take down your site

I had a different post planned for today, then something happened yesterday that I HAD to share.

I launched the marketing campaign for my Love the Inbox email marketing strategy class RIGHT when a hacker from the group Anonymous took down my web host, GoDaddy.

Cue 5 minute freakout that may have included the sting of tears and a few un-Southern Belle-esque words.

Why the dramafest?

I’ll let you in on a little secret: I have an AMAZING group of email subscribers.

I mean these passion-driven business professionals rock my world and if I’m launching a new product, service or class I can count on 5-10% of them supporting it right away.

That’s how an email list works.

It’s a group of people who support what you have to offer, which is why it’s important to start building your own list.

So to have my site down – FOR SEVERAL HOURS – during a launch for a new class, hurt my launch process.

But I rallied and I learned a few valuable lessons from the experience that I wanted to share.

What to do when your website gets hacked (when you’re launching).

1. Find the latest copy of your website backup for reassurance. I manage my site via WordPress, so not only do I download manual backups of all my posts and pages every week, I have my complete website backed up automatically  every day using the WordPress Backup to Dropbox plugin.

If you don’t currently have your site being backed up, stop reading this now and go back it up, then come back.

2. Let your email list know immediately, especially if it’s been down for a while or you are in the middle of heavy marketing. My site was down for over an hour when I sent an email to my list. I wanted to let them know that I was aware of the problem and that I would be doing everything I could to still service them in the interim.

3. Put the information out on social media. It was social media, via my amazingly talented and hilarious friend Sonja Foust – The Pintester, that notified me of the hacking situation with GoDaddy. Her social media insight saved me a call to GoDaddy and a not-so-classy appearance by “Hood Tivi.” Facebook and Twitter allowed me to notify my audience AND set up information about my Love the Inbox class that people could access via social media, without even having to go to my site. If you aren’t aware of ShortStack’s amazing Facebook apps, check them out NOW. Contact me if you need help setting one up for your business.

4. Figure out how to correct the problem and better protect yourself in the future. What security trapdoors are on your site? Is your password too obvious? How can you prevent this from happening again? Did you contact your web host to see what they can do?

5. Take a step back and don’t stress until you can actually do something about it. Trust me — speaking from experience — hitting refresh back-to-back-to-back only makes things works. Step away, work on your next project, go to lunch with a co-working or watch an episode of 30 Rock. Whatever you do, don’t sit there and let the pesky refresh button drive you crazy. Hackers win every time you do that.

Has your website or web host ever been hacked? How did you deal with the situation?

{photo by altemark on flick}

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