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Communication Design

What To Do If You Think Your Client’s WordPress Site’s Been Hacked

Posted by Guest on November 21, 2017

By Bud Kraus

The frantic email, text, or call always comes at a bad time. Your client thinks their site's been hacked. What are you going to do?

Step 1:

Take a deep breath — even if you've done this before — and then head straight to the Sucuri Site Scanner, put your web address into the box, and hit the “Scan Website” button. Let the smart Sucuri people analyze your site. They'll let you know if there is a problem and if so, its likely cause.  

Sucuri warning screen

If you get a result like this, then it's "Houston, we have a problem."

In this case, the site is being blacklisted from search engines and other sites because, in all likelihood, it has been compromised. Further investigation may turn up any or all of these issues:

1. Brute Force Attack: An illegal entry into your WordPress Admin.
2. File Inclusion Exploits: A method to compromise your wp-config.php, a mission-critical file in every WordPress site
3.  MySQL Injection: Damage to or destruction of a database where data is maliciously added or removed.
4. Cross-site Scripting (XSS): Presents as a danger to your site's users.
5. Malware: Malicious code that is being used on your site.

How you resolve the problem(s) depends upon the nature of the problem, your skills and/or the co-operation you will get from the web hosting company. You may also need to hire an outside service, like Sucuri, to clean up the mess. They may recommend the use of a firewall for the site.

But wait — there's a step before Step 1.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is not just a trite expression. In the business of keeping WordPress sites safer, it's true. At minimum, keeping WordPress software up-to-date is a must. Understanding how versions work with any WordPress software is easy, so keep this in mind:

1. If any update has two digits, like 4.9, that means it's a major update. New features will be introduced, as well as bug fixes or security patches.

2. If any update has three digits, like 4.9.1, this means no new features will be introduced. Three digit updates include only bug fixes and security patches.

WordPress software comes in three types, all of which need to be kept current:

1. WordPress Core Updates: Major (two-digit) updates are usually available two or three times per year. Three-digit updates occur on a more regular basis. Most web hosts will automatically do three-digit updates for you. The two-digit update is something you usually need to do on your own.

2. Theme Updates: Theme developers occasionally update their software. This may occur when WordPress itself is updated, but not necessarily; the two- and three-digit system applies for these updates as well. If you change your theme's coding, always make sure to create a Child Theme. That way, your customizations will not be lost when your theme is updated.

3. Plugin Updates: These can occur on a very regular basis. Again, you'll know what kind of update it is by noting if it's two or three digits. Good plugin developers frequently update their plugins.

Keeping Track Of The Updates

If you regularly log into a WordPress site it's easy to tell what needs to be updated. If not, I recommend using the WP Updates Notifier plugin. You will get email that lets you know if WordPress, your theme, or any plugins need to be updated. Ignore that email at your own peril! (Note: If you manage many sites, consider using ManageWP, which lets you update software from one c-Panel.)

Security Is A Shared Responsibility

Keeping software up to date is just part of the precautions you need to take to keep a site safe and in good working order. The web host also has a role to play. Have they added SSL to your domain? (You can request this and it's free in most cases). Are they using current versions of software, such as PHP? (7.0). Is the web host using a shared hosting plan? If so, that’s not nearly as secure as a Virtual Private Server.  

In your contract with a client it should be clearly stipulated that you are to be held harmless and without liability if a site were to go down for any reason beyond your control. This includes sites you currently work on or maintain, as well as sites you no longer have responsibility for. In all cases, consult an attorney to help protect yourself from legal liability.


Bud Kraus has been teaching the fundamentals of web design for thousands of students at Pratt Institute, the Fashion Institute of Technology and for his private students for 20 years. 

Besides teaching Bud works with individuals and small businesses developing their WordPress sites.

His free WordPress A To Z Series is for beginners or if a re-fresher course is needed. Get access to all his videos at https://joyofwp.com/courses/free-tutorials-course-to-learn-wordpress/.

Questions? email Bud at: bud@joyofwp.com

Montreal Design Declaration: “All People Deserve to Live in a Well-Designed World”

Posted by Rebecca Blake on November 14, 2017

Montreal Design DeclarationOn October 24, representatives from 14 international associations of designers, architects, urban planners, and landscape architects signed the Montreal Design Declaration. The signing took place at the conclusion of the first ever international Design Summit Meeting, and in the presence of representatives from three UN agencies: UNESCO, UN-Habitat, and UN Environment. The 14 international associations, along with four other design organizations, collaborated on the call to action. Collectively, over 600 national entities – design organizations, educational institutions, and design promotional centers — from 89 different countries were represented by the Declaration signers. (The Guild, as a member of ico-D, is represented on the Design Declaration.)

The Declaration challenges designers, educators, governments, and the private sector to work collaboratively in creating a world that is “environmentally sustainable, economically viable, socially equitable, and culturally diverse.” To reach this goal, the Declaration proposed 20 projects, from developing metrics to evaluate the impact of design, to fostering support and funding for design research and education, to showing the role of design in enhancing and celebrating cultural diversity.

The final project proposed by the Declaration is “Generate support for a world design agenda through distribution and statements of support for the Montréal Design Declaration.” To that end, designers are encouraged to download the Declaration, read it, and share it with their colleagues and contacts. The Montréal Design Declaration can be downloaded from their website. You can also like and share their Facebook page.

Illustrator and Member Cindy Salans Rosenheim Joins ADAA Judging Panel

Posted by Rebecca Blake on July 14, 2017

Cindy Salans Rosenheim

Guild member Cindy Salans Rosenheim was asked to join the judging panel for the prestigious Adobe Design Achievements Awards, the international student awards co-produced with ico-D. As an illustrator working primarily in watercolor and pen-and-ink, Rosenheim brings unique traditional skills to the panel of judges. Her work encompasses illustration for fashion and food, loose journalistic on-site sketches, more tightly-rendered editorial and children’s book illustration, and even hand lettering, maps, and calligraphy. Rosenheim joined Guild member Theresa Whitehill of Colored Horse Studios, who is participating on the panel for a second year. (We covered Theresa’s experience on the panel last month.)

A native of San Francisco, Rosenheim has spent most of her career working and raising a family in the Bay Area. She attended college at Tufts University, earning a BA in Art History and French. Upon graduation, she moved to the Midwest, spending two years as a staff artist with Hallmark Cards before moving to Chicago to work in a number of illustration studios. Her side client list reflects her breadth of experience, and includes companies (McKesson, Bain & Co. Inc;), major brands (Charles Schwab, American Girls Brands, Hasbro, Warner Brothers), periodicals (New York Times, Wall Street JournalHarvard Magazine – Harvard University,  Natural Health Magazine), and publishing houses (Random House, Macmillan Publishing, Ten Speed Press), among others. You can view her work on her website.

Below: Viana’s Italian garden. © Cindy Salans Rosenheim. Used with permission.

Viana's Italian Garden by Cindy Salans Rosenheim  

Metro-NY Artists: Pro-Bono Legal Assistance for Copyright Disputes

Posted by Advocacy Liaison on June 27, 2017

Copyright Alliance logoThe Copyright Alliance has partnered with Cravath, Swain, and Moore LLP and  Columbia Law School to provide pro-bono trial services for individuals and small businesses involved in copyright disputes in New York City. Through the initiative, Columbia Law School students working under the supervision of lawyers from the firm provide legal counsel  and learn trial skills as related to copyright law.

Designers and illustrators operating in New York City with a copyright dispute are encouraged to apply for consideration in the program. Applicants will be considered based on criteria published on the Alliance’s website. If you’re interested in applying for the program, visit the website to download the forms. For more information, contact the Alliance”s Copyright Counsel, Terrica Carrington, at tcarrington@copyrightalliance.org. (Please note that applying for the program does not guarantee legal assistance.)

 

Copyright Alliance pro bono trial services

A Year with the ADAA, Part 1: Judging the Adobe Design Achievement Awards

Posted by Rebecca Blake on June 24, 2017

Over the past year, Guild member and designer Theresa Whitehill of Colored Horse Studio has had a unusual relationship with software giant Adobe: that of both judge and mentor in their 2016 student Adobe Design Achievement Awards. As judge, Whitehill had the opportunity to review work by design, illustration, and film production students from around the world, working last August in tandem with a team of peers.

Q: How did you decide to take on the judging gig?

I looked into the ADAA program, and was really flattered to be asked. The commitment didn’t seem to be too much— only one weekend. Also I’ve been immersed in Adobe products since Photoshop 2.5, but never had the opportunity to interact with the company on a personal level, so I was thrilled to do so and see Adobe campus.

But although the commitment is for one weekend at the Adobe campus, it’s a long schedule – 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with a couple breaks, lunch, and dinner. It meant traveling for two hours from my rural studio and overnighting with family. So it wasn’t a light commitment; I had to really want to do it.

Q: What was it like arriving for the first day of judging?

I had to leave my studio in St. Helena at 4:30 a.m. to get to the Adobe campus on time, and was greeted with coffee and pastry in the kitchen. I was overawed to meet the other judges. These were people like art directors with major companies, video producers who worked with MTV in its inception, people who worked in conceptual development. But I realized coming from a book design and book arts background that I brought a unique perspective. Additionally everyone was really generous—that healthy ego you find with creative, talented people. 


Once the judging got started, it was like jumping off a ski jump. But there was so much great discussion during the judging process... Anytime you’re put into an environment with like minded people, you get to bond and know each other’s mind.


Q: Was there good communication between the judges while reviewing the student work?

When you combine the breadth of experience of all the judges, the judging becomes very comprehensive. Judging makes you articulate things you may not have realized you know. But at the same time, having other judges with different experience helped me check my reactions. For example, sometimes I’d be blown away by a student’s work, and another judge would point out that it’s actually quite derivative.

Q: What was the judging process like?

On the first day, the 14 judges were split into groups to judge in our own areas of expertise. In my group, we evaluated submissions in photography, illustration, and graphic design (fine art and commercial) I initially picked my top three candidates for each area, and later in the day, met with the other judges in my group. At that point, we started comparing each others’ choices, and selecting the group’s top three choices. 

On the second day, we continued evaluating the submissions to select the winners and honorable mentions. We also had discretion to address submissions which didn’t seem to fit a particular category, and could make recommendations to Adobe to add categories of work. The award process is very much a living being; as technology and schools develop and abandon disciplines, the categories of work can change. The result is the ico-D and Adobe are learning as much from the judges as the judges are about the work. (Note: ico-D, the International Council of Design, co-produces the ADAA with Adobe.)

By Sunday afternoon, we had made our final choices, and the groups met to review the winners of each category. That meant groups which were still questioning a choice could ask the entire body of judges to weigh in on the selection. Ico-D was great to work with; they were present to ensure that the judging adhered to standards for best practices, followed guidelines, and was fair.


I said to another judge that sometimes I felt professional jealousy because the presentation quality was so high.  I was also amazed at the extraordinary illustration talent—it felt like a privilege to view it.


Q: Were you impressed by the student work? What surprised you the most?

Overall the work was really impressive. Some projects were clearly underdeveloped but others were so professional. In fact, I said to another judge that sometimes I felt professional jealousy because the presentation quality was so high.  I was also amazed at the extraordinary illustration talent—it felt like a privilege to view it.

I was struck by how about 85% of the projects seemed to assume a limitless budget for printing, etc. I ended up gravitating to the projects that assumed that a client (fictional or otherwise) might also have a budget, so that the project was developed with limits in mind.

Q: What do you think was the best takeaway for the student winners?

The students who put together almost seamless projects may not have the ability to show their work to someone who can help them. This awards process can give recognition to students who may not have the time, opportunity, connections, or resources to promote themselves. On top of that, there are the tangible benefits, such as the trip to the AdobeMax conference, or the mentoring opportunities.

Q: And what did you get out of the process?

Once the judging got started, it was like jumping off a ski jump. But there was so much great discussion during the judging process. Even judges who didn't talk much would speak up and pull us back to the core mission. Anytime you’re put into an environment with like minded people, you get to bond and know each other’s mind. I also learned a lot about myself. It gave me the opportunity to step outside of my environment and look back at my career. And I’m so grateful I got the opportunity to contribute.

Below: Teresa Whitehill in her studio.

photo © Adrienne Simpson. Used with permission.

Teresa Whitehill in her studio

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