Your blog should be a place on the internet where readers feel complete safety. Otherwise, they will focus on how to get away from your site instead of your great content.
You need to know that your readers are going to be safe, and while it may be viewed as a chore to review your blog. You should try to look at it as an opportunity to know your blog better.
Consider it a duty to your readers to keep their information and devices safe.
Risks and priorities
Hackers and cyber criminals looking to attack your blog have different priorities and thus will try different methods of attack.
While they can specialize in any form of attack, you need to be forewarned and ensure your blog specializes in every form of defense.
Here are a few of the top things to look out for when keeping your readers in mind:
1. Reader and subscriber information theft
Most blogs will have a mailing list or a spreadsheet containing reader data that allows a blog owner to get a clear picture as to how their website is doing.
They may also have the contact or personal information of some of their readers who were kind enough to subscribe, comment on, or contact the blog.
Reader information is one of the main things you need to protect when trying to put up defenses on your blog. If hackers or other cyber criminals gain access to this information, readers will unsubscribe as soon as they get spam from your blog’s email.
If you have an established blog that sells a product of any kind to your readers, data theft could be even more disastrous as the financial information of your readers (those who follow you enough to spend money on your products) will be at risk.
Even if you have to take measures that sound extreme, this information must be kept safe. If not, you can consider your reputation completely ruined.
2. Blog takeover
You need to maintain control of your blog at all times. No one except an equal partner should ever have any control over your blog.
If this happens, data could be stolen, your blog could be wiped or something objectionable could be posted to your blog without your permission.
Different hackers want to control your blog for different reasons. Some want to incorporate it into their botnet to perform a variety of attacks on other users. Others simply want any data they can glean from them.
Others still will want to post spam-filled articles to your blog, hoping to scam readers with your good name or boost traffic for a different site. You need to defend your blog against all of these intentions.
3. Hidden dangers
In addition to the more noticeable and blatant attacks on your blog listed above, hackers have other ways of making your readers unsafe.
There are other pieces of malware or exploits that allow hackers to collect whatever they want from the websites they are exploiting, including reader information.
Cyber criminals will look for these holes in the corners of your website or place them there themselves using rogue plugins or malicious comments. Just because you don’t know about a danger doesn’t mean it is not there.
You need to be the defense and line in the sand, so discovering those hidden dangers and checking every nook and cranny in your site is vital to close the breaches and have airtight security for your readers.
Remember that it is the readers criminals are after, not you.
Is your computer protected?
Your first line of defense is the device or devices you blog from, and it likely contains a lot of data or upcoming work related to your blog that you want no one to get a hold of.
Hackers cannot be allowed to compromise it, and if that happens, then you can consider your readers compromised on some level as well.
Here are some things to consider to prevent just that from happening:
➣ The basics of computer and internet security
If your password is “password123,” you are not going to keep your blog for very long.
The basics of the internet and computer security have not changed too much over time, only the complexity of the tools used by both sides in the ongoing struggle.
While you should most certainly be on the lookout for new threats on the internet, the old threats are still present.
Here are some of the measures you should take if you want to keep your readers safe in the long run:
- Use good passwords with more than 10 characters and different types of characters.
- Have a security suite installed on your
- Only use trusted websites.
- Don’t share anything about yourself or other people you know unless you have to.
- Update your computer as soon as updates are available.
- Use common sense online to avoid scams.
- Stay up to date with the latest security
Take all of these steps, and you can help yourself (and thus your readers) avoid the most common types of problems for the average computer.
➣ Are you using a VPN?
Unfortunately, there are types of security problems other than the ones associated with basic security.
This is why you need a Virtual Private Network, which is a service that allows your computer or smartphone to connect to an offsite server via an encrypted, tunnel-like connection.
These are the types of threats that the VPN will protect you and your reader’s information from as well as additional benefits that it confers on you:
- The encrypted connection will protect your computer whenever you use a risky public or unencrypted network, which are prime spots for hackers trying to intercept any data that travels over the network.
- A VPN masks your IP address, giving you privacy from anyone tracking you down for a controversial post you made and anyone trying to launch an attack on you via your IP address.
- The connection to a server in a location of your choosing means that you can avoid regional restrictions and many forms of government surveillance. This is vital for travel bloggers who worry about their ability to research and protect themselves when they are in a foreign country.
As a general rule, you can consider sensitive information safer whenever you are using a VPN.
How do you protect your blog?
Once you have your computer locked down, then you can take a closer look at your blog and steps you can take to protect it. Let’s look at some of the tools available to keep you and your readers safe and how to use them.
#1 Plugins: good and bad
Plugins are a great tool to help you shore up the defenses of your blog and find exploits and security holes you wouldn’t otherwise notice. Here are a few of them that are noteworthy:
- Acunetix WP Security Scan is a plugin that will scan through your entire blog and then notify you about any potential security breaches that could occur. It will then suggest changes to be made, allowing you both to learn about and protect your blog. It also offers some other ongoing protective measures that you should read about.
- WordFence is the most popular WordPress security plugin out there, and with good reason. It is a plugin that gives you blocking of attacks as they happen, monitoring features you won’t find elsewhere, and stronger login security so force attacks are a thing of the past. There is a premium version but the free version will still protect your blog quite well.
- Sucuri Security is a free plugin available to any WordPress user that will also work to protect your blog. Some of its features include extensive blacklist monitoring, great security notifications, and one of the best firewalls available to consumers. To get a full listing of benefits, you’ll want to check out the app page.
There are also many apps that you should be wary of that have backdoors or other exploits hackers can use to attack your blog. Whether these exploits exist on purpose or not, you can’t use these plugins on your blog.
If you see something hasn’t been updated in a while or is starting to get bad press, remove it from your blog. If you are unsure, then at the very least disable it until you can more accurately investigate the offending plugin.
#2 HTTPS certification
One of the most overlooked tools of the internet is HTTPS protection, which is a protocol that grants an extra layer of security on top of the normal HTTP.
While it is not impenetrable, it is certainly better than having no protection at all. It also gives peace of mind to any readers who come your way, showing your readers that you care.
It might also be very well possible that your readers are checking to see if you have that certification before they interact more with your blog.
So it will be in your best interest to get one early before it becomes a major obstacle later. It might be a bit of time and money, but investments must be made to make a good blog.
If you are curious about HTTPS certification, then you can read more on the extensive subject here.
#3 Preparing and protecting your readers
While you cannot personally protect every reader who comes onto your blog, you can foster a community and environment that makes security a priority.
That sort of community, with just a little bit of attention, will ward off some types of attack all on its own or let you know if anything is up.
There is nothing else quite like it to make your readers feel safe.
#4 Comment moderation and community building
You want your readers to have a quality experience wherever they are on your website, and that includes comments sections on your blog.
You should take advantage of the fact that you can be notified whenever someone makes a comment on one of your posts.
While you should not stifle differentiating opinions, you cannot allow anything offensive or toxic onto your blog.
On a related note, you should know that there are certain types of attacks that are instigated by pasting some code inside of a comment that is posted onto your site.
If done right, the comment can cause the page to have problems or give the hackers more access than they have any right to.
If anyone else visiting your site sees it, then it may appear to them that you are not trying hard enough to protect your website.
Power Tip: Say Goodbye to WordPress Comment Spam
#5 Encourage good online security practices
As a blogger, you have a voice that you can use to connect and influence your readers. You should use this voice to encourage them to make good computer security choices.
While protecting your blog is ultimately your responsibility, it would be a kindness to your readers to share what you know so they can help themselves.
Look online for some basic security and privacy tips. Depending on the type of blog you have, you will want to try to share as many of them with your readers as you possibly can.
It will make you look better to your readers, and it will give off the impression that your blog is secure.
Hopefully this should never be an issue, but if for any reason you suspect that there could be a potential breach of security, you need to try to reach out to your readers, even making a blog post if you have to.
You might drive some readers away, but others will find you more respectable for it and stick with you if you can convince them that the situation is under control. It is not ideal, but it is better than losing everything.
Transparency is the best form of damage control.
How safe are your readers when they visit your blog? That is something that you will have to assess yourself based on the parameters above.
If you are looking at everything above and feel overwhelmed, try not to worry too much. You can take this one step at a time and review just how safe your readers are at a pace you feel comfortable with, just so long as you are making it a primary concern of yours.
What are other ways you ensure reader safety on your blog or have seen other bloggers demonstrate reader safety? Please share your comments below.
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