Is Your Blog At Risk? (12 Geek Tips To Safeguard The Non-Geek)

Protect Your Blog, Protect Your Brand, Protect Your Identity

Bloggers beware when it comes to risks Many bloggers, especially non-geeks, just jump in and start blogging. While that shows your enthusiasm and desire to share your content with others, it can leave your blog, your brand and your identity at risk from bots, spammers, hackers and others with malicious intentions causing havoc for your blog and business.

Don’t believe this can happen to you? Think again! One of my webmaster’s blogging clients lost her business domain name when her registrar didn’t notify her of its expiration due to a “glitch” in their notification system. As a result, another party scooped up the domain name leaving her without access to her business.

To help shelter your blog from harm, here are twelve actionable blog tips you don’t need to be a techie to install and use. (Of course, there may be other reasons your blog is challenged and not achieving its goals).

  1. Update your blog’s user list. In plain English, this translates to checking who has privileged access to your blog; who can create, edit and change content. In WordPress, there are five privileges levels. From least to most authority they’re: Subscribers who can see private posts and, depending on settings, comment without moderation; Contributors who can submit an article for publication; Authors who can create new articles, upload media to library, and publish their articles; Editors who can edit and publish other authors articles; and Administrators who can create static pages, change the theme, menus, layout, everything. (Note: Each level of permissions includes those of the lower levels.) Take time to review the level of authority people have, especially if there’s been turnover.
  2. Create secure passwords. Ideally, use a combination of letters, numbers and symbols. Avoid obvious words like your spouse or kids’ names. On the other hand, don’t make the passwords so difficult you can’t remember them or leave them on post-its near your computer.
  3. Employ hard-to-guess names for users with administrative privileges. You want to thwart bots and others that intend to do harm to your blog from getting in and changing your administrative permissions. Therefore, don’t use admin or your real name.
  4. Make sure that FTP access to the web files on your hosting account doesn’t use obvious names or passwords. Since easy-to-guess names and passwords can make your blog vulnerable to a hacker who could create an admin account and compromise your site.
  5. Schedule automatic backups. Ensure that your backups are synced with your publishing schedule. If you’re publishing everyday, then you should have a backup everyday. Have the backup emailed to a separate destination from your own server so you can recreate your blog if something happens.
  6. Post your terms of use and copyright on your blog. This means define when and under what terms other people can use your blog’s content. Creative commons is a good starting point for understanding the options, picking a license and crafting terms of use that matter to you and your business. Understand many people assume they can use other’s blog content freely without permission (which isn’t true.)
  7. Use approved popular themes and plug-ins. This is particularly important if you’re not a techie. Choosing a well known blog theme and plug-ins provides a level of confidence that you’ll have support when there’s a problem you didn’t anticipate. Before you use or buy a theme or plug-in read the reviews, particularly check the most recent to see if there are any issues. (Here are the 20 plug-ins I recommend. For additional help, here’s the WordPress introduction to plugins .)
  8. Test major changes to your blog on an alternate host. Don’t make major changes to a live blog if you can help it. Setup a separate development environment on a subdomain, for example, http://dev.example.com, to test changes and addition, especially when you’re changing theme options and template files.
  9. Set independent reminders for your domain name and hosting renewals (since they may not be the same date). Don’t rely on your registrar or hosting company to send out timely reminders. (Alternatively, put these services on auto-renew.) Registrars are supposed to wait 30 days before putting a domain up for sale. But don’t wait since you could wind up with someone else controlling your identity.
  10. Understand the difference between private and ordinary domain registrations. A private domain registry works through a proxy company that cloaks who the true owner is. It’s like having a secret bank account in the Bahamas or Switzerland. By contrast, an ordinary domain is one where the name and address of the owner are public.
  11. Use a third party service if you accept credit cards. This way you’re not responsible for holding customer payment tokens and data. This is something that’s best left to the professionals such as PayPal.
  12. Protect yourself by checking your liability if you sell goods and services. Ask a lawyer to review your terms, etc. The idea is to ensure you’re protected in case something goes wrong.

While I appreciate your desire to jump in and start blogging without considering these technical issues, understanding these twelve points can help safeguard and protect the intellectual property you’re building on your blog.

What other issues can put a blog at risk? Do you have any examples you can share with readers?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Hat tip to my webmaster, Larry Aronson, who helped me compile this list.

Here are some related articles you many be interested in.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/explorethebruce/6244391718/

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