Tuesday, 10 June 2014

HOW TO: 5 Ways to Protect Your Blog on Blogger

The possibility of four and a half years' worth of blog posts disappearing, never to be recovered, is a nightmare no blogger wants to become a reality. But that's what I was faced with a few days ago, when in just two minutes, I received 1,440 hits from Israel, and the stat counter was quickly increasing. My blog has been attacked before, but I don't think it's ever been that bad - if it has, I've blocked it from my memory.

It worried me because I suddenly realised how little security precautions Blogger has compared to other platforms such as Wordpress. I hate hate hate Wordpress, but at that moment I really wished I had the same control over my blog's security as Wordpress bloggers do. If my blog got hacked, I would be more than devastated. So I did what little I could to up the security on my blog. There wasn't much I could do because on Blogger we have limited access to files, but I did what I could and I thought I would share what I did in case any of you Blogger bloggers face the unfortunate possibility of being hacked. 

As a side-note: this won't prevent spam views like I was getting (you can read more on how to read Blogger stats here) and I'm pretty sure I wasn't being hacked, but it made me start thinking about how to protect my blog, just in case.

STEP ONE
I went to Settings > Mobile and Email and typed my email address in the boxes labelled 'Comment notifications' and 'Email posts.' I never used to get comment notifications via email because there didn't seem to be any point as I moderate them from my dashboard, but at least comments I get in the future will be in my inbox if I ever need to restore them. Enabling the 'Email posts' option means from now on, whenever a new post goes live on my blog, it will also appear in my email inbox, meaning I can put those straight back up if something bad ever happens to my blog. 

STEP TWO
Then I whizzed over to Settings > Other and clicked 'Export blog.' This downloaded an .xml file to my laptop which contains all blog posts (including scheduled posts and drafts) and all comments ever published to my blog. I quickly made a new blog and imported The Mile Long Bookshelf, and it worked perfectly! Phew. In the case of something bad happening to The Mile Long Bookshelf, I can import the file and everything should be back to normal. 

STEP THREE
Next I went to Template and clicked the Backup/Restore button which downloaded another .xml file containing just my template e.g background, header, title colours, link colours, and some of the sidebar widgets. Oh, and if you're wondering, I hated the look of the mobile version of my blog which is why I disabled it.

STEP FOUR
I read my blog code and kept my eyes peeled for any suspicious links. Just a tip for those who don't know, your template (if downloaded from a third party) and any widgets/code you got from other blogs and tutorials could contain harmful links, adverts, and pop-ups. It's good to check every now and then to see what's really on your blog. Luckily, there didn't seem to be anything suspicious in my code, so moving on...

STEP FIVE
I changed my blog and my Bluehost passwords even though they get changed regularly anyway. Better to be safe than sorry, right? 

When all of this was going on, I was frantically Googling at the same time for security tips tailored specifically to Blogger. I couldn't find anything up-to-date, so hopefully this post will be helpful to those worried about blog security. 

17 comments:

  1. Great tips Amber! I'm going to take these precautions and execute on my blog! Thanks! :D

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  2. Yes! Thank-you. I always delete my blog post email notifications, but I won't any longer. Maybe I will make an account just for that purpose. Both myself and my blogging buddy Brittersweet had our templates disappear, and went our blogs to find a plain black and white scheme. We have backed up our designs ever since. Thank-you for the other tips, I really appreciate it.

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    1. Making a new account just for blog posts is a good idea. :)

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  3. Thanks for sharing! I'll keep this post in mind should anything like this happen to The Book Nook.

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  4. Aww, sorry that you got attacked! Nothing like that has ever happened to me before so I've never been struck by the potential insecurity of my blog. This post was really helpful though! Hopefully with these measures, I can at least ensure some more security! Thanks Amber!

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  5. Great post! I'm certainly going to use some of these methods! Really useful :) xx

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  6. You are right, Blogger can be a little pain in the butt when it comes to security. Manual backups and the possibility to have my blog gone any day for no reason is basically what made me leave it for a self-hosted WordPress site. Plus I just love WordPress! :)

    Anyway, I used to search for semi-reliable methods to keep my blog contents more secure when I was using Blogger, and here's some services you might find interesting: https://ifttt.com/connect/dropbox/blogger. There are features to backup the blog regularly, just in case you want an additional backup copy if something goes wrong with manual backups. Hope it helps! :)

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  7. I've never though about my blog's security. Thanks for telling me how to back up my blog. I'm thankful that I change my password regularly but now I will make sure to start backing it up. I will make sure to get on it it tomorrow. I hate Wordpress to it must be because that the first Wordpress blogs I found were really nasty.

    Amelia @ YA Bookologists

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  8. I haven't been on blogger in a long while but the UI looks way better than it did 4 years ago. So sweet of you to put it together and share the info. I've been super paranoid lately about being hacked.

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  9. Great tips! I use Windows Live Writer to compose and publish posts, which also saves a copy on my hard drive.

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  10. My blog being hacked is definitely one of my biggest nightmares!! Thanks for reminding me to backup! I always forget to do that stuff!

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  11. Those spam views are so annoying! They get my hopes up only make them crash when I realize that it simply not likely that someone is visiting all the posts that the counter says.

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  12. Thank you so much for all of this! As someone who has basic IT skills this is great to think I now have backed it all up. Thanks so much x

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  13. Great tips Amber, I'll remember to change my settings

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Feel free to leave me a comment. I will get back to you as soon as I can! :)