Over the past few years, blogging really exploded onto the online scene, as one of the best and most in-depth ways of promoting one’s skills, advocating specific causes, raising awareness (and sometimes even money, via crowd-funding), and getting your views out there, to other opinion makers, movers, shifters, and leaders. It’s more professional than Facebook, and allows for greater depth than Twitter. However, when specifically looking for downsides and cons, blogging can also be seen as one of the least safe activities to engage in, when online. Whether voluntarily or inadvertently, bloggers expose themselves to certain risks, from which most other users are relatively safe. A blogger is highly likely to reveal personal information about themselves on the Internet; moreover, by using dedicated blogging software and by spending massive amounts of time online, researching information, writing blog posts and maintaining contact with their readership, bloggers expose themselves to data theft. Here are some tips for safely using your computer when blogging, either professionally or as a leisure activity.
1. Don’t store your blog password (or passwords, in case you regularly change them) on your PC. As a matter of fact, you shouldn’t be writing them down anywhere at all, since this obviously leaves you very vulnerable to hacking attempts. If you keep a word processor document with such sensitive data, make sure you delete it a.s.a.p. – and even that might not keep you entirely safe. Delete, right-click on the Recycle Bin, ‘Empty Recycle Bin’. That ought to be safe enough, right? Wrong. Microsoft Windows allows for deleted data to be restored, both by yourself, as well as by others. In order to make sure sensitive information has been properly shredded, check out an efficient software solution here.
2. Be very careful what email address you use for logging into your blogging platform. Email from your internet provider will very easily reveal your physical location to anyone clever enough to know where to look. Similarly, emails forwarded via POP3 accounts are still traceable, albeit with a bit more effort involved in the process. Your safest solutions are using throw-away email addresses, which you can easily sign up for online, or reply to emails via a webmail service, such as Gmail.
3. Keep close track of software and driver updates. When updated regularly, PC drivers and programs will ensure there are no security breaches on your machine. However, if you’ve disabled automatic updating for some reason, you might want to look into a safety and maintenance software suite, which will essentially do the job for you.
5. Think of the future. While this might sound somewhat fatalistic, when creating content that you plan on posting online, be it a blog entry, a vlog video, or even a comment reply, remember that Googlebot will crawl that content, archive it, and essentially make it impossible to delete. Since an increasing number of employers are in the habit of running online background checks of potential employees, remember that whatever you’re putting online is likely to come back and haunt you when you least expect it.