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Using Personal Websites or Blogs

By: Anna Hinds BA (hons) - Updated: 24 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
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Are you a keen blogger? Online diaries or ‘blogs’ are the latest craze to sweep the nation capturing the imagination of anyone with anything to say for themselves. Whether your site is personal or business, if you’re the owner and operator, you must take certain precautions to protect it from online security lapses. Read on and find out why your website could be the biggest security risk in your home.

What's the Risk?

By identifying certain security “holes”, it’s easy for hackers to get access to your blog or website – enabling them to get their hands on personal information, and replace your online diary or site with a completely different webpage. Responsibility is largely in the hands of the blog and site providers.

When a professional hacker decided to reveal the weaknesses in Blogger, he could have replaced any of millions of high-profile blogs with his own words. Because he was making a point to the company, and not to individual users, he picked an unused blog which had been set up by a US journalist. Blogger got the point. When Google took over in 2007 it announced that it had sealed up the security “holes” that hackers had used in the past.

Hackers could, claimed the investigator, create new blogs and publish them over existing blogs; they could register themselves as an official administrator of an existing site or blog; and they could use information to borrow your identity or – even worse – start cyberstalking you.

Are these problems unique to blogs and personal sites? Of course not. E-commerce sites are plagued by hacking attempts too, but blogs and personal websites are particularly vulnerable – because, if someone gets in and loses your data or hijacks the pages, you’re the one left tidying up the mess.

How can you Protect Your Personal Information?

Some of us need websites to promote ourselves, and in these cases personal information can be necessary. This information can easily be picked up by spam ‘spiders’, programmes that scour the web for identifiable information like email addresses. Make your contact details harder for them to access:

  • Don’t use a ‘mailto’ tag to allow automatic responses – this could be picked up and taken advantage of.

  • Put a space in the middle of your email address (your name @ your site.com) so it’s easy for people to type, but harder for spiders to recognise.

  • Pick an email address that is not obvious (like yourinitials@yoursite.com), and direct any variations (like sales@yoursite.com) to a junk folder.

What Actions Should You Take to Protect Your Online Privacy?

  • Does your blog contain too much personal information? Avoid using your name or your address on your blog or any sites connected to it.

  • Don’t receive or send any files whatsoever.

  • If anything odd appears on your blog or website, notify the provider straight away.

  • Report rude or spam comments to the provider.

  • Don’t post a photograph of yourself.

  • Make your personal profile unavailable to view.

  • Draft before you post. Potential employers and dates often research people on the internet so don’t allow the publication of any material you could later regret!

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