Data is the new currency and whatever we do online is gathered, bought, and analyzed for the benefit of those who can gain profit from it. Unfortunately, this also means that our data can be used to exploit and used as a weapon against us.
What’s more, blogging can render you more vulnerable compared to the average internet user when it comes to online safety risks. Sure, you may think that everyone who uses social media or those who shop online is at risk as well, but bloggers are more open to certain dangers, which you should definitely take note of.
One, your blog itself can attract hacktivism, especially if you blog about controversial topics such as politics and religion. You can also fall prey to extortion, in which attackers can hold your website hostage and ask for a steep fee in exchange for restoring it.
Risks That Bloggers Face in Terms of Privacy and Safety
The risks may be personal, in which someone might target you for reasons apart from the ones above. Here are some of them:
Personal information placed in your blog can be used in many ways and hackers can leverage the data to gain access to your private accounts, such as your banking.
Worse, they may have enough information to go on to build an identity and open up credit in your name, which they will max out and leave you to suffer the consequences.
You will be stuck with debt you didn’t make and take a hit on your credit report.
You may be blogging anonymously for various reasons. Maybe you’re dealing with controversial topics and you don’t want your real-life identity compromised because of your views. Or maybe you’re just not that comfortable sharing your private persona in public.
But whatever your reason is, you are at the risk of being exposed if someone with malicious intent can piece your identity together and use it to threaten you.
If you’ve been talking smack about your employer, you may end up getting fired if your anonymity is compromised. You could even be charged for it. The severity will depend on privacy laws that govern your industry and country.
Your Privacy and Safety
Unscrupulous marketers can use your name and contact information to send you spam, junk mail, and telemarketing calls. But that’s just the surface—you can also become a victim of cyberbullying and the harassment can have an emotional and psychological effect on you.
This will not only ruin your blogging experience but also put your safety at risk, even physically.
Your Data Can Fall Into the Wrong Hands
There are several ways that this can happen. When you register your own domain for your blog, everyone can see your name, address, email, and phone number as they are listed in the registry and can be found via a quick search.
Your email newsletter is another source of personal information. U.S. law requires you to list a working email address and this will get displayed in the footer of the email that your subscribers will receive.
Ways to Secure Your Personal Data
As a blogger, there are measures you can do to keep your information secure.
Use a P.O. Box – It’s smart to use a mailing address that’s different from where you actually live for your email marketing efforts. This way, you don’t have to broadcast your home address to your subscribers.
You just need to visit your local post office and open a P.O. Box. You can also use an email scanning service to check your mail for you.
Use a Google Voice number – You don’t have to use your home or mobile number for services, apps, or actual clients that want to get your contact number.
Get a Google Voice number and give this instead. Check if this service is available in your area if you’re outside the U.S.
Use domain privacy – It’s worth paying an additional annual fee of around $10 for domain privacy protection service when registering a domain.
This will eliminate the need to list your personal address and contact information in the public database.
Create unique passwords for each site – A lot of people are guilty of using just one password for all their accounts, which is bad practice. A hacker will be able to open them all easily.
Even if it’s hard to remember all your passwords especially if you’re using so many accounts, it’s worth the trouble if it means more security.
Restrict access to your logins – Ideally, you shouldn’t let other people access your logins, but if you really must share, give your information to those who you absolutely trust.
You can also create a separate login for other people who have to access your site.
Be careful about what you write about – It’s best to leave out certain details that can compromise your safety.
Avoid sharing your routine, your schedule, your location, the names and details of family and friends. You can try tweaking the details even just a little bit to avoid disclosing too many details.
Check your plugins – Plugins can be a potential security weakness for your blog so be careful installing them and only choose reputable ones. Make sure that they are regularly updated as well.
Security holes may appear which hackers can use and take advantage of so it’s a must to update regularly.
Have your site scanned regularly – For a very small amount of money, you can have your blog scanned for security threats and prevent hacking.
Scanning for malware will show breaches as soon as possible so you can work on fixing the problem and ensure your security.
If the problem gets too complex, you can also ask a web security expert to have a look at your accounts.
Executive protection agencies provide experts that are well-versed in high levels of security, so if you feel you need this kind of help, don’t hesitate to contact an agency you can trust.