The first step someone should take to improve their ‘cyber hygiene’ (to avoid the computer viruses, of course) is to educate and motivate themselves. Protecting your blog will take a little extra effort. Educate yourself in order to motivate yourself to make the extra effort. Plus, if you are a blogger that wants to project yourself as at least semi-tech savvy, then you should work hard to avoid having you account hacked.
There are now 2.7 billion people, almost 40% of the world’s population, online. That means a lot of people that could visit your site, and a lot of people who could try and hack into your site. I read in the comments of one site about one lady, who I believe had posted something that offended some Islamic extremists, whose blog was attacked specifically for what she posted. So, if you plan on posting something controversial you should be extra careful to protect yourself from any dangerous reprisals.
My Facebook and Yahoo accounts have both been hacked. My Yahoo account was hacked twice. It is very annoying. I was very embarrassed to have requests for money or a very offensive statement sent to all my family, friends, and colleagues that I had interacted with online. It might be tempting to think that it wasn’t my fault, but to the degree that I failed to use a strong password I was responsible for what happened. You have to take responsibility for your blog if you want to have good cybersecurity. Know what your settings are, and know about the options available to you.
Here are some basic tips to get you started.
1. Use Strong Passwords
Avoid using passwords that are in the dictionary. Changes in capitalization, different symbols, and numbers make for stronger passwords. Try using the same frame while incorporating the name of a site in order to have different passwords that you can remember. At the very least, avoid using basic information that someone else could easily find out about you to create your password. If you must, write down your passwords and store them away from your computer.
2. Don’t pick an obvious username
Don’t make anything easier for a hacker by avoiding common usernames such as administrator or the name of your blog. A hacker has to figure out your username as well.
3. Backup your Blog
If your blog is valuable to you, which I assume you wouldn’t create it if it didn’t have value to you, then back it up. Blogger makes it easy. If you’re using a different platform you can, at the very least, back up your content such as pictures and text.
4. Update Security Programs on All of Your Devices
If your mobile device can access the internet then it can get a virus that can be transferred to your laptop or computer. Most people do some kind of file transfer between their devices. Such interaction can transfer a computer virus. Basic security programs can be downloaded for free. If you use a public computer then make sure you logout and clear the browsers cache. Security on every computer and device you use to access your blog is important.
5. Be Suspicious of Comments With Spam and Links
Katie is all too familiar with this one. She has set up a filter for spam in our comments. It keeps out a lot of the riff-raff. Avoid vague comments that don’t indicate that a person actually read the blog.
For a few more technical tips you can check out this blog with ten tips. I am not a computer expert, and some of the lingo in this blog I am not familiar with.
Here is some more about the importance and scope of cybersecurity. This quote is from an article about cyber hygiene halting hackers. “The National Security Administration’s director general, Keith Alexander, states that economic espionage through cyber attacks is the “greatest transfer of wealth in [American] history.”
The following quote is from a New York Times article on the increasing destructive nature of cyberattacks:
The appeal of digital weapons is similar to that of nuclear capability: it is a way for an outgunned, outfinanced nation to even the playing field…These countries are pursuing cyberweapons the same way they are pursuing nuclear weapons. It’s primitive; it’s not top of the line, but it’s good enough and they are committed to getting it.
–James A. Lewis, a computer security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
A book that I read that is very interesting in describing how the Internet is evening the playing field in many aspects of the international economy is very interesting. It is called The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recently stated that the United States could experience a “cyber-Pearl Harbor.” He said, “An aggressor nation or extremist group could use these kinds of cyber tools to gain control of critical switches…They could derail passenger trains, or even more dangerous, derail passenger trains loaded with lethal chemicals. They could contaminate the water supply in major cities, or shut down the power grid across large parts of the country.”
It may seem like a hassle to take these additional steps, especially if you don’t feel like you are a target. However, you are. Hackers look for people who have an influence over others, so if they post something, it at least has a chance of convincing one person. Bloggers are influencers, and are prime targets for attacks.