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This Blog Got Hacked…And So Could Yours

by Jennifer on November 10, 2010

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.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Caroline November 10, 2010 at 4:17 pm

Jennifer,
Great advice too often we forget such things….and thanks for links! Much appreciated.
Caroline

2 Suzannah November 10, 2010 at 11:57 pm

So glad everything’s back up and running! That was pretty scary. Thanks for the tips, too.

3 Jennifer November 11, 2010 at 5:43 pm

@Suzannah Yea, it was really scary. But it made me a lot more aware of what I need to do to keep my blog protected. Thanks for recommending your awesome husband!

4 wearmanyhats November 12, 2010 at 7:03 am

Thank you so much for this advice. I appreciate it and will do that immediately. I will also pass along this to others.

5 Tristan November 16, 2010 at 3:47 am

Oh man, this is my biggest fear! I’m glad you had backups, though!

Would you care to mention what hosting service you were using and what you’re using now? I’d like to know!

6 Jennifer November 17, 2010 at 11:37 am

@Tristan Sure. I was hosting with IX Web Hosting, but now I’m with GoDaddy. I also hear the HostGator is a really good one.

7 K.M. Weiland November 17, 2010 at 12:37 pm

Yikes! Sorry to hear you had to go through all that. But thank you for sharing the wisdom of your experience with us. Every tip mentioned is great advice.

8 AJ Best November 22, 2010 at 8:22 pm

Jennifer – You can also use a GREAT software program online called Lastpass.com

This site generates pw for you, and stores them AND then also saves them and enters them if you ask it to. Check into it. Great thing!

AJ

9 jennifer blanchard November 23, 2010 at 10:50 am

@AJ Thanks for the link! I will definitely check it out. I am in serious need of new passwords for most of my online accounts. I just tried logging into my Facebook this morning and it told me someone in Northern California tried to login yesterday!! (I live in Houston.) So obviously my lack of complex passwords is starting to cause some issues. Nonetheless, I have changed all of my passwords to stronger ones, so I think I am good to go now. 🙂

10 Laura December 10, 2010 at 8:48 am

I had a Blogger blog hacked once. That was a surprise as it wasn’t a big blog or especially popular. Just a personal blog I kept going over the years. Nothing much was done by the hacker, an image file was changed to something else. I guess it was just left as a marker so I would know they had gotten in. I was not especially upset by it. But, I did realize it was time I took my passwords seriously. I hate them, really, really, loathe having them at all. But, they are a necessary evil.

11 Kathy December 10, 2010 at 9:55 am

One thing I installed after getting hacked was the “Login Lockdown” plugin for WordPress. This locks out people after three failed login attempts for 60 mins. Also configured my htaccess file to allow access to my dashboard from only two IP ranges (work and home computers).

12 andrew toynbee December 17, 2010 at 8:03 am

Kathy
Login Lockdown sounds useful, but I find myself unable to track it down in Wordpress. Can someone point me in the right direction please please?

13 Vincent February 3, 2011 at 11:35 pm

Hello Jennifer,

It’s been a while I visited your blog. Just one thing that really caught my attention: “Work With People You Can Trust”, seems that you had a pretty bad experience, I remember back in 2010 when I use to read your posts you never used the f** word. But, this time reading it – was fun!

You remember how I negatively commented on your Ebook before it was published you had distributed a copy to your blog readers. Anyway, past is past! let’s forget. My point is I enjoy your posts there’s always something new in them, a new story, whereas in the ebook it was about the same writing… writing… and writing…

Keep up the good work! I’m back in action :-), I hope I’m able to cope up 🙁

14 jennifer blanchard February 4, 2011 at 1:31 pm

@Vincent Welcome back! I hope you’ve pulled your writing dreams off the back burner and are now ready to do whatever it takes to make them reality. Good luck!

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