By Jennifer Blanchard
On October 22, 2010, the unthinkable happened—Procrastinating Writers was hacked.
At the time, all of my content was missing, including pictures, links and my Write Everyday tool. I was totally freaking out when I discovered the hacking had taken place.
And not only was I totally freaking out, but I was also totally freaking lost on what to do from there.
Thankfully, I have a great Web guy (who I’ll tell you more about next week) and he helped get my site back up and running.
My blog getting hacked brings up something pretty important: If it happened to me, it can happen to you.
Tips for Protecting Your Blog
This whole hacking situation has been a huge learning experience for me. The two most important lessons I learned, however, are: there is beauty in chaos and if I can get through this, I can get through anything.
Here are my tips for protecting your blog (and making it through a hacking if this unfortunate event does happen to you):
- Back Up Your Blog—Let me repeat this one again, back up your blog. If you’re not already doing this, start doing it immediately. Having backups of this blog is the only reason it’s online again (and online again so quickly after the hacking occurred). Here’s a great post from Problogger.net on How to Backup Your WordPress Blog in 3 Easy Steps. Read it, it will save you from losing everything.But just backing it up via WordPress isn’t enough. If it was, all my images and my awesome Write Everyday tool wouldn’t still be missing. There’s another way to backup your site that’s highly recommended. I will detail this process in next week’s post.
- Know A Good Web Guy/Gal—If your blog gets hacked, you’re going to need the assistance of a professional. And pronto. If you don’t already know someone you can call on, find someone as soon as you can. I highly recommend my Web guy, Peter Freeman of Web Services for Business. He’s fast, knows his stuff and is very affordable. I’ll tell you more about my experience with Peter next week.
- Keep All Your Files on Your Computer, Too—Even if you’re backing up your blog, it’s still a really good idea to keep a folder on your computer with all of your images and posts. That way you can easily restore things if your blog gets hacked. If nothing else, it’s just another way to feel confident that you won’t lose everything.
- Work With People You Can Trust—Over the last two-plus years, I’ve worked with many different people, from Web designers to graphic designers to editors to software engineers to interns, etc. I’ve learned two things from working with these people: 1) Find people you can 100 percent trust who will not lie to you, cheat you out of anything, steal from you or do anything else you disagree with; and 2) As soon as you get a bad feeling about someone, trust your gut. Get out before they fuck you over.
- Pick The Right Web Host—Before my blog got hacked, I was using a decent Web hosting service. But once the hack occurred, it showed me all the holes that my Web host had. Not only that, but they didn’t do much to help me out, other than notify me that I’d been hacked (well, duh!). Now I’m with a new hosting company. One with an excellent security team in place for just such occasions.
- Use A Complex Password–And Change It Often—You probably hear this all the time. I used to hear it and ignore it (I’m really bad at remembering easy passwords as it is). Until my blog got hacked. Now I make sure to use complex passwords for all of the sites that are important to me, including this blog, my Aweber account, my GoDaddy hosting account and my PayPal account. I recommend using StrongPasswordGenerator.com.
- Keep Your WordPress Version Updated—Wordpress is always coming out with updates to its software and security settings. Make sure you’re keeping up with when new versions come out (if you go to your WP Dashboard and click on “updates” you’ll be able to see when it’s time to upgrade your WordPress). Having the most updated version will keep hackers from using any vulnerabilities to gain access to your blog.
For more tips on keeping your WordPress blog safe, read How to Protect Your WordPress Blog from Getting Hacked.
If your blog does get hacked, I recommend you stay as calm as possible. Freaking out will do you no good.
I hope you never have to go through what I went through in October. But if you do, I hope these tips help you navigate your way through the hacking mess and make it through to the other side.
Has your blog ever been hacked? What do you do to protect your blog from having this happen?
About the Author: Jennifer Blanchard is the founder of Procrastinating Writers. For more great writing tips, articles and advice, follow her on Twitter or on Facebook.