The much-dreaded writer’s block isn’t the only threat that can thwart your progress. Are you doing enough to keep your blog (and your livelihood) safe from online harm?
Like it or hate it, writers and bloggers are part of the community. And while we may write on completely different topics and espouse opposing views, we all know that the life of a writer is not easy.
That’s not only because creating fresh and engaging content requires tireless dedication and a range of skills that involve much more than writing; especially in the online world, some ideas or topics presented by the author may not be taken seriously or suitable for certain groups or individuals.
In other words, you may be left to your own devices and need to take care of yourself in more than one way – including digital security. Indeed, the safety and security of our communities and workplaces, and that of our families and ourselves, should not be taken lightly. And because news and opinion circulates and is distributed mainly online now and quickly, there is a level of internet security acumen that every news blogger or writer should turn to.
Average, 30,000 websites are hacked every daywith hacking going on every 39 seconds. 2021 alone already exists 22 billion broke the recordAnd 95% of successful breaches caused by human error or someone underestimating their cybersecurity needs.
And while you might be forgiven for thinking the bad guys would only go after reputable blogs (cue Google official blog hack years ago) and nothing like that could happen to a humble blogger or freelance writer, the the reality is very different.
So what can you do? Well, from blogger to blogger, there are certain ways to stay safe and secure. Here’s how.
1. Use secure login credentials
Surprisingly, today’s password security is still lax, as people today tend to use the same weak passwords that can be hacked in mere seconds; therefore, a healthy attitude towards passwords is a must. Consider using a longer password or varying passwords that are fourteen characters long, at the very least. Better yet, use a password manager that can generate and store all your passwords safely.
2. Turn on two-factor authentication
The best bet for increasing the security of your page or login is to add a second layer of authentication to your account. Ideally, switch away from SMS auth codes (ie increasingly threatened) and use verified apps like Microsoft Authenticator, Google Authenticator or Authy, custom CMS plugins or platforms to generate codes for better account security.
3. Set up a virtual private network (VPN)
Most bloggers work from home or other external locations (yes, cafes with good coffee are creative), and connecting to public Wi-Fi networks can pose a considerable security risk. Rarely is there anything to stop hackers from sitting back and using “handkerchief” a program to monitor all data sent and received on an open network. Anything you work on, even your blog login information, can appear on a hacker’s screen, which can lead to account and identity theft.
With a virtual private network (VPN), your device connects to a secure offsite server, and your data packets travel through an encrypted tunnel. Encryption will protect your blog information on any network. Because you are using a different server, your IP address will be masked, and you will be more difficult to trace.
Perhaps you may even find yourself facing government censorship or surveillance, in which case you can create a blog using the Tor anonymity network. (We saw the difference between VPN and Tor recently.)
4. Keep your CMS and plugins up to date
When Ghost, Drupal, WordPress, Joomla, or another CMS alerts you to the availability of a new version, act on it. CMS and plugin developers work day and night to patch security holes and other problems that arise. Hence, updating ASAP will ensure you are using the latest security measures to ward off bad actors from your blog or website. Similarly, you should download plug-ins from verified sources only, as plug-ins from unsafe websites or hosts may contain malware.
5. Use security certificates (HTTPS)
Another good tip is to use a TSL (Transport Layer Security) or SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate, as these protect the movement of data between your site and its visitors through the use of encryption. Such data may include the email for your newsletter, credit card numbers for purchases (or subscriptions, Patreon, etc.), and passwords. Having such a certificate on your website protects that traffic and offers you more visibility on Google, making it not only more secure but can also increase your traffic.
To get a certificate, contact your hosting provider. Usually, certificates come as part of the hosting package, but some may not. To see if your website has a TLS/SSL certificate installed, navigate to your web browser’s address bar and look for the small padlock next to the URL.
But wait, there’s more!
Of course, there are a few more steps you need to take to ensure stronger security for your blog and personal computer. They start by using recognized industry security software which will be helpful for protecting you from various online threats, as well as learning some other basic personal cybersecurity practices.
Just as importantly, keep your work backed up, either on a separate drive (USB/HDD/SSD) or online, using a reputable cloud provider. This way, you probably won’t be out of work for years if something happens, and it will allow you to continue to access your portfolio.
Hopefully, our tips will keep you working on your blog like never before, but with the added benefit of a safety net protecting you and your work.