It was a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon here in Southern Arizona, when I went to check on my blog and your comments, when all of a sudden I got an error message that the page might've been moved.
I couldn't see my blog, I couldn't log in – I was in panic, to say the least.
As of late, I heard many a story from fellow bloggers of their blogs being hacked, stolen, high-jacked, gone with the wind…
Take a look at what Steve Scott of SteveScottSite.com had to say about his unfortunate recent experience with hackers:
“In February 2011, I had my blog hacked by an unknown person. This was a particularly nasty virus since it installed malware on the computers of any site visitor. So it basically attacked my regular blog readers.
Overall, this attack made me extremely angry. It was a not-so-great reminder that the blogging world isn't a utopia. There ARE people who feel no guilt about trying to destroy the hard work you put into a blog.
Fortunately Steve (from SteveYoungs.com) was able to fix this issue. So I guess it also showed me that there are also amazing people who are willing to take time out of their day to help you out.
This experience has taught me to be a lot more careful online – Especially when it comes to the security of my site.”
That's why my immediate reaction was my blog was hacked and all my hard work just slipped through my fingers!
My first call was to HostGator, my blog host.
(By the way, this instance doesn't relate to my recent trouble with Hostgator – many of you noticed that my blog was down almost all day on Saturday. After a couple of hours on the phone with Hostgator, they restored my site without giving me a good explanation as to why it was down to begin with.)
Thankfully, after about 10-15 minutes of “looking into it“, they realized that my server was simply down and they were working on restoring it.
But in those 10 minutes, my blogging life as I knew it seemed a very distant past – I feared the worst.
Prevention IS Your Best Defence
In order to ensure hackers don't stand a chance with your blog, follow these simple steps.
1. Stay on top of your updates!
This is one of the simplest defense mechanism there is.
Each time you update your program versions, you stay current with the newest security codes within your site.
Most hackers, once they see that you are staying on top of your updating, will simply move on to the next victim – the ones with older versions are much easier preys.
2. Create a strong password
Please stay away from passwords like “12345” – really.
Also, using the same password for all your logins can prove to be a costly mistake: once the hackers crack that nut, you are in big trouble. Game over.
3. Monitor your site
In our day and age of roughly 15,000 plugins out there, you can be sure that there is a plugin for that.
Just below, you'll find out what plugins are keeping my blog secure – I think I have a great mix of both backing up and monitoring plugins that are automatically keeping tabs on my blog by constantly searching for suspicious activity and any unauthorized changes to it.
That way, if something fishy were to ever happen, I will be immediately notified and can take a quick action to minimize any possible damage.
Security Plugins I Use at TGC
So, what was the very first thing I did when my blog was back and running?
I was resolved not to take any chances with such an integral part of my business, my blood, sweat, and tears – my blog, and rushed to purchase BackUpBuddy – the only plugin that I know of and trust to back up EVERYTHING: your posts, images, plugins, themes, settings – everything.
So here's a rundown on what plugins I am currently using to make sure my blog is secure – I highly recommend you look into them as well.
After doing some due diligence on the matter and studying the options, plus from recommendations of several bloggers I trust and respect, I decided to install BackUpBuddy to bring me the peace of mind I was seeking once and for all.
What it does:
1. Backups to your server, Amazon S3, Rackspace Cloud, FTP, or e-mail.
2. Quickly and easily restores your site on the same server
3. Or migrates to a new server with a different domain and database.
The process is easy, fast, and reliable – I can attest to that.
And did you see me mention that “migrate” function?
If you are thinking of switching your host or going from any other blogging platform to WordPress, BackupBuddy will make that change a breeze.
$75 for 2 sites.
Peace of mind it buys:
Login LockDown records the IP address and timestamp of every failed WordPress login attempt. If more than a certain number of attempts are detected within a short period of time from the same IP range, then the login function is disabled for all requests from that range.
This helps to prevent brute force password discovery.
Secure WordPress beefs up the security of your WordPress installation by removing error information on login pages, adds index.html to plugin directories, hides the WordPress version and much more.
WP Security Scan
WP Security Scan checks your WordPress website/blog for security vulnerabilities and suggests corrective actions such as: passwords, file permissions, and database security, among many other features.
Plugins I No Longer Use
What it does:
Allows you to optimize database, repair database, backup database, restore database, delete backup database.
What it doesn't do:
Back up your entire site; only your database.
WordPress Easy Backup
This is the plugin that I used prior to BackUpBuddy.
What it does:
Created backup archives of your entire site, not just database.
What it doesn't do (well):
This issue has been brought to my attention by Andrew Rondeau, the mastermind behind my favorite blogging course, Income Blogging Guide.
He simply asked me if I ever tried to restore my backed up files back to the blog. As I was doing some research, I heard more and more complaints that bloggers had problems with this part.
But isn't the point of backing up your blog to be able to restore it, if there's ever a need for it? My point precisely.
It took that scary moment in my blogging career to realize that my blog security is not something to be taken lightly.
Up until that moment, I used NOTHING to keep my blog safe and keep myself sleeping at night.
I don't feel like a possible victim any longer.
I now have confidence that no matter what happens, I will take my blog with me anywhere I go.
I am sure you'd love that peace of mind as well.
Check out BackupBuddy and other plugins for yourself and see if that's the right solution for you.
I made my choice.
Have a better plugin suggestion? Comment to show me that you're alive!
Image credit: http://humor-in-photos-and-pictures.blogspot.com/