Internet security and data breaches are in the news every day. You may think security concerns are something only big companies and websites need to worry about, but you’d be wrong. Small and medium businesses are often targeted by hackers, because they may not have the money to pay for the security that big companies have invested in. Coming back from a cyberattack may be tougher for smaller businesses for the same reason, lack of resources.
So even if you consider yourself a “small-time blogger,” security should be top of mind for you. Your readers expect that any information they give you is safe, and rightfully so. The quickest way to lose traffic & business is to lose the trust of your readers.
And if you are hacked, losing your reputation may just be the beginning of it. The information the bad guys get could lead to the identity theft of you or your readers. And then you’ve got a whole lot of other problems on your hands.
If you use WordPress to host your blog, you should take extra care. And that’s not because WordPress isn’t a secure site, it’s just the most popular blogging platform. And that makes it a very popular target for hackers.
So it makes sense to spend the time and money on the front end for security concerns, to keep these nightmares from occurring. Here are 4 things to help get you started.
1. Make sure you are using a Virtual Private Network.
You may have taken the steps to beef up your security at home or at the office. But many bloggers work on their blogs in other locations, coffee shops, libraries, etc. This usually means the use of public networks.
Cybercriminals feast on public wi-fi networks. One trick they use is to set up a hotspot, with a name that is similar to the public network. Then unsuspecting patrons log on to it by mistake, and everything they send is going right to the hacker.
With a Virtual Private Network, or VPN, you connect your device to an offsite secure server, using an encrypted connection. This way no one can track what you are doing online, and your information stays private.
There are lots of VPN options out there, and it will only cost you a few dollars a month. But it is an investment that could save you time, money, and headaches down the line.
2. Protect any device you use to access your blog.
Some of these are very basic, but important and sometimes overlooked.
Make sure that you have a strong password on any account or device that you use. Lots of people use the same passwords for all of their accounts, to make them simple to remember. The problem is that if a hacker gets into one account, they can then get into many other accounts, including your blog.
Double-check your security questions, and make sure they aren’t answers that someone could easily figure out. Any other verification measures should also be looked at and updated.
Be sure that any device you use to interact with your blog has a security program installed. And if they are already installed, make sure that you keep them updated. A security program from several years ago, with no current updates, likely does not give you the protection you need.
3. Use a good security plugin.
Plugins are very useful tools in making your site more attractive and user-friendly. But some plugins have security holes, some on purpose, some not. But there are lots of proven security plugins that you can use.
Wordfence is a popular security plugin on WordPress. It has scanning for your blog, malware protection, and more. There is even a premium option for additional security.
It’s also important to remember that plugins are no different than other programs, and will require updating from time to time. You should be notified when there is an update available. If you’re using plugins that don’t update very often, it may be time for a new plugin.
4. Pay attention to your comments section.
This is an important step for more reasons than just security concerns. Paying attention to your comments keeps you in touch with your readers, and lets you know what kinds of content they expect from your blog. Responding to readers also deepens the connection between you and them, which leads to better retention rates.
But readers may also notice attempts by hackers before you do, and let you know that there is a potential problem. The quicker these attacks are noticed and taken care of the better.
Cybercriminals also post links in comment sections, which can lead to troublesome websites. These links could have malware, ransomware, etc., that could cause problems for whoever clicks on them. It’s important to detect these posts early, delete them, and block the senders from posting in the future.
Protecting your website is an ongoing process. As one of your security concerns gets fixed, hackers are already working on the next one. But keep an eye on your site, and invest time and resources into your security. It will pay off for you in the long run.