When you start a blog, the last thing you think about is security. You want to make it pretty, install a cool theme, start publishing your ideas, and grow an audience. You might dedicate a lot of time to finding the correct images, compressing them, and adhering to every SEO trend to ensure your blog pops up on the first page on Google.
Security is on the list of things that need to be done. But it’s down there at the bottom.
The security issue becomes more prominent with every new visitor, ad revenue dollar, or sponsorship.
Your blog is in constant danger from cybercriminals and bots. If you don’t protect it, your time, dedication, and hard work can go down the drain.
Sure, getting hacked might be a cool story for your blog. But it’s better to talk about your main niche than go through a week’s worth of trouble to get your website back. Make security your priority, and share what you learn with your audience. Here are the 9 best ways to secure and protect your blog.
Choose a reputable host
Security starts from the bottom and builds from the ground up. Like a house, you set the foundation before working on the roof.
Your blog and hundreds of other sites are hosted on a server. If the host doesn’t pay any attention to security, all it takes is one website to get breached, and the rest fall like dominoes.
There have been plenty of scenarios where hosts accidentally delete or shut down blogs without telling the owners. If you’re choosing a cheap service instead of a reputable one to save money, you’re in trouble.
Successful bloggers should opt for a dedicated server. But be prepared. It will cost you a large chunk of money. Shared servers are better for people who are starting out.
Check your host’s security measures, and opt for a change if necessary.
Use a security plugin
After laying the foundations, it’s time to build the basement. A basement is a place where you keep extra stuff that you don’t want people to see. And that’s exactly what security plugins do.
They’re essential for adjusting the level of security and control you want to have over your website. They explain every setting in detail so you know what to touch. Here are some of the best options for protecting your site with a security plugin.
Hide your login page
Most bloggers use WordPress because it’s easy. Hackers know about that too. All they need is to write ‘wp-login.php’ at the end of your domain, and they’ll get to the login page. The next step is to use the most common username for a website, ‘admin,’ and enter ‘password’ as the password.
It’s funny when you read about it, but this is how hundreds of blogs get hacked.
A security plugin allows you to change the login URL to a page of your choosing. It’s important to switch your default login page because hackers can use a brute force attack to break your username and password.
Cybercriminals have strong computers that can guess thousands of username and password combinations to break into your site. Think of them as locksmiths with an unlimited number of keys. Eventually, they’re going to guess the correct one. By making your login page invisible, they won’t be able to do anything.
Secure your database
The database stores everything about your site. Again, if you leave it with the default settings and prefix, hackers will abuse it and steal important data. To be on the safe side, hide your login page and the database.
Implement a firewall
Blogging sites don’t come with firewall functionality. You have to install a plugin for that. Especially if you’re using WordPress. Hackers can launch DDoS and brute force attacks if you don’t block them.
Firewalls automatically block bad connections. Of course, they do way more, but that’s the most important feature you need in terms of security.
Limit login times
Sometimes, hackers set their minds on your blog, and they don’t stop until they find your login page.
And when they do, they want to brute force their way in. Their mode of thinking is that since you’ve protected your login page, you won’t add an extra layer of security.
That’s true. Most people will stop at the login page. But you can go an extra step and limit login times.
Again, this is an excellent feature in your security plugin. When a cybercriminal starts a hacking program to hijack your site, the website will lock them out after a few attempts.
Use strong passwords
Your usernames and passwords need to be strong. The general rules to follow for a strong password are these:
Using the same password for your email, social media, and blog puts you at a lot of risk. All a hacker needs to do is breach one account, and they’ll have access to everything else.
If you don’t want to remember too many passwords, use a password manager. That way, you’ll remember only one master passphrase, and you’ll copy and paste everything else.
Use security software
Doing research for a new blog means you’ll have 50 tabs open at the same time. Your social media algorithms won’t know how to target you because you’re googling so many different things. You’re probably subscribed to a few writer newsletters too.
All it takes is one moment of inattention to download a malicious file, click on an unsafe link, or connect to public Wi-Fi without protection. And that’s how they get you.
We’re all human. We make mistakes. But there’s software as a safety net to protect your device when you slip up.
Antivirus is the holy grail of security tools. It scans every device for malware, and it protects you from the most common threats. However, it has a weak spot. Antivirus can’t protect you from the things you’re doing online. That’s where the second tool comes in.
VPN stands for virtual private network. This security tool protects you from online threats. Firstly, it masks your IP and lets you connect to free Wi-Fi without a problem. Next, it protects you from snooping eyes that want to know what you’re browsing. Some VPN providers offer additional tools, such as an ad blocker. Cybercriminals are stepping their game up, and an ad blocker is a necessity to protect you from pop-ups, malicious ads, and trackers.
Be careful when sharing login details
Full-time blogging is tough, and you often need extra help. After finding a freelancer that will help you with website and graphic design or a virtual assistant, don’t give them your account with full access. They can exploit it and ruin your website.
Instead, create a new role with limited access. For example, if you hire somebody to do search engine optimization, give them a role to manage and publish new posts. That way, you can see them do the work before giving access to the rest of the blogs.
After they finish the task, or you end the contract for a job well done, make sure to change the password for the account or delete it. Also, change the URL of the login page by using a security plugin so they don’t know how to access it. You never know what that person could do in the future.
Don’t install any new plugins that you find. Instead, do some research and only install reputable and well-known additions to your site. Hackers post fake plugins that allow them to gain control over your site. Ensure the ones you install have regular updates and have loads of reviews.
Install an SSL certificate
The difference between an ‘http’ and an ‘https’ website isn’t a single letter. Instead, it’s a security certificate that protects the information of your visitors. If you have a store section on your blog and don’t have an SSL certificate, hackers will abuse it. They will steal addresses, credit card numbers, and emails from your customers. Check your host and see if they offer a free SSL certificate, and set it up with a few clicks. If not, pay for the upgrade. It’s mandatory.
Scan your site
When you get hacked, there isn’t a big red alarm that sounds off and screams danger. Cybercriminals are silent, hidden, and deadly. They can make subtle changes that you won’t notice for months. One example is redirecting your page views to their own website. They can peek at your sensitive information without you noticing.
That’s why it’s essential to scan your site from time to time. You’ll see if there are any breaches or possible problems before they get exploited.
A backup service won’t stop your blog from getting hacked. But it will be there to help you save all your progress and continue.
A backup saves your data twice a day, and if anything goes wrong, you can just go back to one of the previous versions. In most cases, the host service will do a backup for free. It’s good to add another layer of protection with an offsite backup. The only thing better than a backup is having two backups.
Blog security isn’t hard. It only takes a day to implement all of these changes. Then, they work on autopilot. Ensure your blog is safe and protected, so you don’t wake up one morning wondering why your site isn’t working and how all of that hard work could go to waste. Don’t let a sneaky cybercriminal get the better of you.