GPSOLO June 2009
Do bloggers need security measures different from other types of Internet users? Of course you’re circumspect about virus and spyware protection, and you always back up critical hardware and software. But what if your blog is hacked? Your blog content could be altered, you could be made to look bad, or you could be held responsible for communications you did not intend and of which you may not have known.
Besides, your blog’s archive will grow over time. It will gain value as it does because the size of your blog archive is directly proportional to the likelihood that your blog will appear in the results of people’s Internet searches. So the longer you blog, the more you’ll have to protect.
How, then, do you avoid being hoist on your own petard by a blog? (Learning that Shakespearian idiom derives from the French “pétard,” meaning “a loud discharge of intestinal gas,” made it a lot funnier to me.)
Like your anti-virus and anti-spyware programs, you’ve got to keep your blog software current. Lots of different software is used for blog platforms, and you may not have a choice as to which to use. But blog platforms periodically update their software for a variety of reasons, often just for security purposes. Your blog and its server are more easily hacked if you don’t keep your own blog platform up to date.
And like all digitally important things, keep your blog backed up. To paraphrase, hack happens. Blogs get taken over, have their passwords changed, and sometimes have their contents deleted. If something like that happens to the site hosting your blog, and you don’t have a backup of it, you will have to start from scratch whether or not the rest of the blog site gets up and running again.
Just as elemental as backing up your blog is the need to be judicious in selecting and protecting your passwords. The best passwords consist of random letters (mixed upper- and lowercase), numbers, and symbols; don’t use real words, and certainly not pet names or birthdays just because they’re easy for you to remember.
Also, choose a reputable blog host. It’s important that your blog host provides some protection from mischief makers. Consider what you’ll have to do to get customer service and whom you’ll have to speak with if something goes wrong with your blog. And what if the company goes out of business in this struggling economy?
Blogs can be a great way to raise your profile and enhance your reputation, but all that new attention can cut both ways. Don’t let some hacker destroy your law practice’s most important asset: your good name.
James Ellis Arden practices law in the Los Angeles, California, metropolitan area and specializes in litigation, attorney ethics, and client relations. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.