Waking up one morning to find that your beloved blog or website has been hacked into must be the worst feeling out there. To have something you’ve worked so hard on be put at risk is never a good feeling – so ensuring you’ve protected yourself can put your mind at ease and mean you don’t need to worry about anything like that happening.
But how can you protect yourself from spam and hackers?
Keep updated: It can often seem like WordPress are sending new updates every few days, but by keeping your blog and software updating you are protecting your blog. Old software is easier both to spam and hack into – so keeping on top of your updates is really crucial.
Use strong passwords: It can be tempting to use the same password for all your online accounts and make it an easy to remember and simple phrase. This is wrong though! You should always protect something as valuable as your blog with a strong password. One easy method to increase password strength is to begin and end your old password with a blank space.
Always confirm and approve comments: Any blog writer knows that sometimes comments are just pure spam. The last thing you want is your readers having to read through spammy comments too though – so make sure you have your blog set to “approve comments”. This way you can make sure only valuable comments are being published.
Ask for an email address: When people want to submit a comment to your blog make sure you ask them for an email address. This will often put off spammers who crawl websites promoting pointless and spam services – as it take that bit extra effort. It won’t work every time (especially against automated spam) but it’s something else you can put in place to guard yourself against spammers.
Use a contact form: Instead of giving out your email address freely on the website, have a contact form instead. There are many tools out there that can crawl a website quickly and easily for an email address – so by using a contact form instead you are asking for that little extra effort – which will often put some people off.
There are also some great wordpress plug-ins you can install to help with all these aspects of running a blog and preventing spam. Below are some I would definitely recommend for anyone taking the first steps to preventing spam. If you have any to add, don’t forget to leave a comment below – we like to spread the word and share the knowledge! Just remember, of course, to keep your plug-ins and installations updated. Here are some that will help you stay on top:
Akismet: This is a tool that helps you control your comments, as earlier discussed. It’s not only stops the comment it deems to be spam (and the process is pretty accurate) but it also then keeps them in a moderation queue – just in case you want to double check. This can go some way to protecting you from your own ego – when you might approve those “Thanks sir really very excellent post I am find what I need here thanks very to you, you are truly king among men” type comments linking to their build your own boat affiliate page.
Math Comment Spam: This tool is pretty simple – it asks your readers to answer a quick and simple math problem before allowing them to post the comment. Although this method doesn’t completely guard against spam it can be a great help when teamed with other plug-ins.
Auto Close Comments: Sometimes if your blog has a wealth of blog posts and archives – the older posts can become a hive for unwanted spammy comments. This plug-in lets you close comments on older blog posts after a certain amount of time has passed. It can a long way to protecting you from hidden comments that otherwise may have gone unnoticed.