One of the bi-products of running a successful blog or website (or a series of them) is that people often come to you for advice. Most of us are happy to help the newbies who are just now figuring out how to blog, even if it means answering the same questions over and over again. One thing I’ve noticed as I’ve helped my new proteges get up and running is that many of them aren’t asking the right questions. New bloggers all want to build beautiful and fun and popular sites. Very few of them, strangely enough, are worried about building sites that are secure.
In today’s internet age, security is more important than it ever was. Nefarious types don’t need expensive or extensive setups to hack your site anymore. All they need is a barely web-competent phone and before you know it, *poof*! All of that hard work is down the drain or, worse, suddenly attributed to someone else while a pile of terrible and worrisome stuff sits on your server instead.
What I want to do in this post is cover the three major things you need to know that will keep you safe while blogging and building your own sites. If you can do these three things then a great deal of stress will be off your shoulders–especially once your blog really starts to take off and you’re faced with the potential of significant loss.
- General Web Best Practices
The most important thing you need to understand is that anything you put online can potentially be accessed by other individuals if you are not careful. This means that you need to be just as diligent in the real world as you are in cyberspace with your online security.
There are endless articles on the topic of security but if you were to ask for a narrowed down list, the ones you’re most likely to fall for are:
- Phishing – Where an individual poses as an authoritative figure in an attempt to coerce you into giving up private information.
- Virus/Malware – Where you may accidentally download or click links that take you to bad “neighborhoods” which exploit code (and trust) to place damaging software on your device.
- Distraction – This is much like theft in the sense that you are distracted, physically, so an individual can gain access to your files.
The key to all of this is awareness of your surroundings.
Always keep a skeptical mind when others approach you about sensitive information. Be careful with the programs you download and the websites you visit. Never take your eyes away from your belongings in a public (even if it feels private or friendly) place.
- Password Management
It is amazing that in this day and age that people still have trouble creating secure passwords. People are so bad at this that the top 25 most used passwords are often the same year in and year out.
As a blogger you will, no doubt, have many passwords to remember from hosting accounts or CMS logins to social media accounts to eCommerce.
Over time these passwords add up and so many people fall for the following:
- They write them down as post-it notes
- They keep an excel spreadsheet on your computer
- They reused multiple passwords for multiple accounts
All it takes is one slip and an individual may be able to set in motion a series of attacks that allows them to gain access to many of your accounts.
A smarter method to handling your passwords is through an encrypted password management service. The services provide high-level security, which will store your passwords, provide best practices on keeping them updated and safe, and also allow you to one-click login so you’re not stuck digging through physical or digital copies that others may find.
- Regular Backups
Last but not least is one that all bloggers seem to neglect until only after everything has all gone downhill.
What we’re talking about here is a lack of doing regular backups of:
- Server files
- Project files
- Business assets
- Contact information
…and any other important file that relates to keeping the blog running.
What would happen if your hard drive was fried from a lightning strike? Got washed away in a flood? Stolen by a thief? Accidentally deleted and reformatted?
Regular backups need to be done! There are many different ways to go about doing this but even if you don’t have an afternoon to set up an elaborate system, at least copy those important files to a flash drive, upload to an online storage site, or burn the information to DVD’s and have a friend hold onto them.
Plenty of bloggers have had their entire sites wiped out because they weren’t paying attention. Hundreds of hours of work gone down the drain because they were too focused on the little things like designing a button or trying to make an animated .gif.
Just do it. Not later… now. You’ll thank yourself for it.