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Safegarding Your Website

5

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On this week's episode we take a 3 pronged approach to keeping your website safe. Having a secure website isn't just about keeping hackers and bots out (although that's true too) it also includes keeping your site safe from random disasters and from human error. That's why, this week, we cover security updates, backing up, and creating a 'sandbox'.

But, before all this, we share some listener suggestions by introducing you to Vidblaster, a cool streaming service, and Web Empowered Church, a free church CMS package!

broke link

Your webempoweredchurch link is broken. Didn't try the others.

Thought you would want to know.

Oops!

Oops, all fixed. Thanks for the heads up!

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.mustardseedmedia.com

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.mustardseedmedia.com

Security and websites....

I think one of the common misconceptions of computers is that everything is easy or should be easy. This makes users both in Churches and in the workplace consider security as the last thing. It's usually a afterthought. The one thing we need to do is take a page from our mainframe brethren many years ago. Institute good change management and always try to over estimate the time you need and always always always consider security when implementing your website.

Horror Stories and Backups

I mentioned one of my own horror stories in the chat window during recording. We once lost a static HTML site only to discover that our backup had been diligently storing zero byte files to tape. A big portion of that site had been created by our college registrar, and he went through the open labs and scraped all of his content out of browser cache to get it back.

I have the luxury of doing all of my Drupal sites on Linux boxen where I have shell access (well, root access, actually) so I can pretty easily set up rsync backups. I did manage to do it on one shared hosting setup using the file manager they provided. It was just a little trickier.

I told ConnectedGeek I'd try to get my scripts posted online. I did a blog post here that gives a rough description of how I do my backups.

This method worked well for me when the aforementioned shared hosting service got hacked, and I couldn't get them to understand that their box was rooted. The first thing I did was disable the backup script and kill the ssh public key on my backup target host. I also made a redundant copy from that last good backup elsewhere. We switched to DV hosting on mediatemple, and I was able to get the site going pretty quickly from that backup.

If you can't easily set up an extra server for a sandbox, consider virtualization. I have a couple of development servers running in VMware virtual machines. Actually, I have a couple of production Drupal sites running in VMs also.

I'll admit that I also do sometimes make changes on production sites. It's usually a matter of understanding the risks and knowing how recent my last backup is. Once or twice, I've pulled all-nighters fixing things, but usually because I've decided to press forward, not retreat to the last backup. Then again, I'm in a position where I can get away with that sort of thing.

Micah

Kudos

Great topic. Thanks for sharing your insight and experience!

Test Server

Ok, you guys have convinced me. I am finally going to set up a Linux test server at my house. I have an old PC that I installed Ubuntu on a while back that will make a perfect server. What Linux distro are you guys using on your test box? I am also going to install the Tomato Firmware on my router to monitor my bandwidth and allow more control over my network. Thanks for the great show.

Bob Kepford
http://twitter.com/kepford
http://bobsknob.com
http://bobkepford.com

Linux Distros

Bob,

I'm a Red Hat user from way back, myself, but have grown tired of the rapid release cycle of Fedora. I dabbled with Ubuntu server for a little while, but have moved on to Debian as my new distro of choice. I've even broken down and started installing the GUI on my servers, though I'm still pretty much a command-line guy. For remote GUI on Linux, check out www.nomachine.com for remote desktop over SSH.

Hope that helps.

Micah

Linux? What's that? ;)

I don't get my hands messy with that Linux stuff :) My sandbox is a Mac G5 running MAMP Pro. Overkill, but super easy for a non-server guy like myself to maintain.

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.mustardseedmedia.com

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.mustardseedmedia.com

Linux is great!

I was listening to your show and just wanted to comment that I put my server on the computer that I develop on. It's an Ubuntu box. The OS is ran off a external USB hard disk and it has a dual core AMD 3Ghz processor with 3Gb ram. This is faster than I need. I used to do it on a 500Mhz machine with 256Mb ram running Ubuntu also and that was fine. Ubuntu got a bit to big for it so I switched to the new one.

Linux? What's that? ;) - MAMP

I also use MAMP some, but have found that the databases do not always work the same in MAMP as the database does on some servers, so the php/db relationship may work local, but the php will error on the server or vice a versa.

Check your setup

Check you PHP/MySQL compatability. You might install it locally on PHP5 under Mysql 5 and then try to move it to a host with MySQL 4 and it breaks.

Another common issue is you setup a site using the mysqli driver locally and then your host doesn't support that so your site breaks.

Some of this really is a sign of an outdated or bad hosting setup.

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.innovatingtomorrow.net
www.mattfarina.com

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Former Co-Host
www.mattfarina.com

No downloads from iTunes?

iTunes is giving me an error for both this episode and all your previous episodes... "There was a problem downloading "Safegarding Your Website". An unknown error occurred (-4)."

It is quite happy downloading other podcasts, and until yesterday yours was working fine. Is it you, or me? :)

Haven't seen an issue

I haven't seen any errors on my end...anyone else?

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.mustardseedmedia.com

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.mustardseedmedia.com

Not just Geeks and God

This problem has now spread to a whole lot of other podcasts I subscribe to—it's either my computer, or something is broken at the New Zealand iTunes music store. I noticed it here first as Geeks and God is currently top of my playlist so I am turning over episodes faster! Sorry for the bother... :)

No problems....now

Would not bring down the show earlier in the week, but it is working fine today, Wednesday.

ZicherD
Linux 25%/Windows 50%/Mac 25%
100% Geek

Another software video switcher is Wirecast

Hey,

Thanks for the VidBlaster link. Another option is Wirecast from Varasoft. This software is also not cheap.

Audio comment links...

Hey guys - I left an audio comment earlier today with a few thoughts/recommendations I had after listening to this episode. Below are links to the backup tools I recommended:

Thanks!

--
Erik Anderson
http://andersonfam.org

--
Erik Anderson
http://andersonfam.org

Eclipse setup

Matt,

You mentioned during the show that you use Eclipse. I installed Eclipse PDT last week and like it a lot. I know there is a lot of capability that I haven't found yet so I am curious about your setup.

It sounded like you work on your hosted sites using Eclipse. How do you do that through Eclipse?

Thank you for sharing.

esftp

I use the esftp plugin to interact directly with servers. I tend not to use ftp since it transfers everything as clear (packet sniffable) text.

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.innovatingtomorrow.net
www.mattfarina.com

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Former Co-Host
www.mattfarina.com

Wakeup Call

Thanks for the wake up call on the development section. I am one of those people that used to add new features on a live server. I've always backed up ever since I had a similiar incident where I lost all of my data because a host "upgraded" their backend software without backing up my files. Just goes to show that you can't take anything for granted, you have to be proactive.

I just thought of this. If

I just thought of this. If your site crashes and burns and you made no backups. Your might see if archive.org has it in the way back machine. I tried this today, but I don't think the page I needed was ever published period.

WEC

Just a quick note - we've been using the Web Empowered Church package for about 2 years now and it's been going really well. I've been very impressed with how easy it is to just get a church site up and running. Customizing it takes about the same amount of work as any other CMS, but it is a well thought out package that just took a lot of pain out of getting started. I tried starting from scratch with Joomla and looked at Drupal, but I just didn't have the time to really lay everything out and get it working. I'd put off WEC because I'd heard that TYPO3 was pretty hard to use. While that may still be the case, I find that the WEC community is really helpful and I don't really need to mess with much code.

Anyway, just wanted to put in an extra plug for anyone interested in this package. It's worth giving it a shot.

MySQL Backups

6.15

The MySQL website has some great tools for free one of which will automate downloads of your MySQL databases. I have mine set to run every night while my system back-up is happening.

http://dev.mysql.com/downloads/gui-tools/5.0.html

Thanks for the show. New listener and newbish Drupal user. Love them both.

MySQL Backups

The software that SecondMile is referring to is called MySQL Administrator. This software works great. I have a copy loaded on my local power mac, and on our churches Xserve File server. It works great and is very easy to setup.