Category Archives: Web Safety Tips For Writers

5 Social Media Security Tips And Best Practices You Can Do Right Now | Web Design Relief

Writers: With online trackers, spambots, data leaks, viruses, and hackers hiding in every nook and cranny, protecting your online identity, information, and social media accounts has never been more important. The Internet experts here at Web Design Relief have a few tips and best practices you can use to protect yourself and your online presence.

Smart Tips And Best Practices To Keep You Safe Online

Use Two-Factor Authentication

This is something you should set up on all of your social media platforms and devices. Most of the major social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, etc. have some sort of two-factor authentication protection available to create a second barrier to entry into your accounts. By integrating with your smartphone, tablet, or personal email address, these social media sites can authenticate that you are the user—rather than someone posing as you. Here’s how to set up two-factor authentication on Apple and Android devices.

Create Complex Passwords

This might seem obvious, but many people don’t do it, preferring to use passwords that are simple and easy to remember. After all, no one will hack YOU, right? Wrong. While it might be easier to remember something like Password1234, it doesn’t do much to protect you, your privacy, or your personal information. To more effectively keep your author website and social media safe, create passwords that have complex (sometimes nonsensical) combinations of letters, characters, and integers. A password like AA2714jolp!!$% may be harder to remember when you’re in a hurry to check out cute kitten videos and the latest tweets on your social media accounts, but it’s an important line of defense in the ongoing battle to protect your information.

Review Your Security Settings

Every smart device and social media platform has fairly comprehensive security settings to help protect you and your information. Checking and reviewing the settings on each site you use can help you guard against hackers accessing information you don’t want them to have. Since the big Cambridge Analytica leak, Facebook has upgraded its privacy settings tenfold, giving you more comprehensive control over who—and what—can see your data. You can even set limits on what posts and details the individuals on your friends list can see. As a result of the Facebook leak, many other social media platforms implemented large privacy overhauls as well. A best practice is to always check your security settings and stay updated about new changes and additions.

Change Your Password Often

The average social media user rarely updates his or her passwords or tends to use variations of the same password over and over. This has the potential to create a huge breach in your online security. No two passwords should ever be the same, and as mentioned earlier, every password should be a complex combination of letters, symbols, and numbers. Using the same or similar passwords for all your accounts leaves you wide open to spam, data loss, and hacking. To be extra secure with your social media platforms and online privacy, you should change your passwords at least every two or three months.

Check Before Logging In With Or Linking To Social Media Accounts

Many times you’ll come across apps or websites that ask you to log in with or link to one of your social media accounts. While Social Login may seem like a convenient way to log in and out of apps, it could also provide access to your personal information via those platforms. Before allowing an app or website to use your social media account as a login, be sure to check what they will be accessing. Some will ask for an email address—others may ask for access to your friends, birthdays, and more.

 

Question: Do you think social media platforms provide enough security for their users?

Your Secret Identity: 7 Ways To Safeguard Your Author Pen Name Online | Web Design Relief

Perhaps you’re a science fiction writer who also enjoys penning lighthearted chick lit, or a serious academic striving for university tenure who happens to spend summers plotting thrilling potboilers. To keep your worlds from colliding, you’d probably use a pen name. But aside from donning a pair of Clark Kent eyeglasses, how can you ensure your true identity will remain a secret?

Web Design Relief Explains Seven Ways To Keep Your Secret Identity Safe

Get A New Email

It seems so simple, but many people slip up and use their personal email when signing up for websites, copyright registration, etc., inadvertently revealing their true identity. Make sure the email you use for all your writing business represents your pen name.

Set Up Separate Social Media Profiles

You may already have an Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter account in your own name, but if you post anything about your literary accomplishments, then the jig is up. Instead, set up separate social media accounts in your pen name that are completely independent of your personal ones. As a further safeguard, make sure not to “friend” yourself or otherwise link your pen name accounts with your personal ones.

Purge Personal Photos 

On your author website, bio, and social media accounts, avoid using any photo that shows your face. A simple Google image search or a face recognition app could connect your author persona to your real identity. Many writers who use pseudonyms opt for a distant or obscured photo or their book cover as an option.

Soft-Focus Your Bio 

It goes without saying that you can’t list the date you graduated from your alma mater or your current workplace in your pen name bio. You’ll have to be vague about the details and tell your life story in soft-focus. But don’t get carried away and start making things up or claiming credentials you don’t have. If and when that information comes out, you’ll be discredited.

Consider Copyright Issues 

If you copyright your books using your legal name, then your true identity will be revealed within the first few pages of your book, right in the copyright clause. So much for anonymity!

However, if you copyright using your nom de plume (leaving your legal name off the copyright form), the length of copyright protection may be shorter. Also, without legal backup, it can become more difficult to prove you’re the owner should a claim arise in the future.

Check Out DBAs And FBNs

If you’re serious about separating your legal identity from your nom de plume, you may want to talk to a lawyer in your state or municipality about setting up a corporation or a limited liability company. You can then do business through that corporation, though you’ll still have to use your legal name for signing publishing contracts.

If you intend to receive payments, do any kind of banking, or get a credit card under your pen name, some states require that you fill out a “Doing Business As” or “Fictitious Business Name” form. With this in hand, you can register your domain name for your website, thus keeping the information about your identity masked from the publicly searchable domain name registry.

Limit Public Appearances

Keep in mind that even if you’re attending a conference far, far away from your hometown or office, it’s always possible you’ll bump into a colleague or old friend. You’ll also have to avoid being photographed, because there’s a risk those pictures will be posted on your fans’ social media pages. For every public appearance, weigh the risks and rewards carefully.

Though it’s not easy to hide your author persona in a world of rampant online interconnectivity, writers who are scrupulously careful about keeping their personal life separate from their writing life can continue publishing in happy anonymity.

 

QUESTION: Do you think pseudonyms are a good or bad idea for authors?

5 Biographical Elements NOT To Include On Your Author Website | Web Design Relief

Whether you’re a New York Times Best Seller or a new writer ready to self-publish your first book, the moment your author website goes live—you’re a public figure. Your readers will want to get to know you better, and you’ll be eager to tell them your life story. But along with true fans and interested literary editors and agents, Web Design Relief knows you’ll also get visits to your author website from scammers. So how do you share your personal journey while maintaining your privacy and not putting yourself at risk?

Five Biographical Elements NOT To Include On Your Author Website

Legal Name

Between social media and online databases, you’ve already shared a huge amount of personal information with the world. An online search of your name will quickly bring up social media pics, information about the trips you’ve taken, the houses you’ve bought, the cross-country moves you’ve made, and maybe even the funerals you’ve attended. So you might want to consider using a pen name to protect your privacy and identity.

But if your legal name is already established as your author name, you can still protect yourself and your identity from those who want to do you harm.

One way is to obtain domain privacy protection for your website. When you registered for your URL, you were required to input your real name, address, and phone number. That information is publicly available in a database run by WHOIS, the overarching organization that manages domain registration. Domain privacy protection allows you to mask your personal information from the public, adding an additional level of privacy.

Home Address

If Google Analytics states you have only a dozen visitors a day, you might think that it’s okay to include your hometown or your home address in your biography. But if your next book takes off like a rocket, the number of visitors to your website will also increase—and most will be strangers.

If you feel you must include an address on your website, don’t use your home address. Instead, get a locked post office box in another municipality. Better to make a few quick trips a week than risk finding a stalker at your door.

Email Info

It would seem to be a no-brainer to include an email on your website so fans, editors, or agents can contact you, but scammers troll websites in order to deluge them with spam. Some of those spam emails may be infected with viruses and other malware that can steal your personal info and do real damage to your computer.

Instead of offering up your email address, use a contact form page on your author website which masks your email. Then, to ensure you’re dealing with humans, use CAPTCHA codes to ward off dangerous bots.

Identifying Information

While you’re telling stories about your wild and colorful family in your author bio, make sure you’re not spilling more information than you should. These days, many banks and credit cards require that you answer personal questions if you forget your log-in information. If you’re giving away some of that information publicly, you’re setting yourself up as an easy target.

Common identifying information can include:

  • birthplace
  • birth date
  • mother’s maiden name
  • high school where you graduated
  • name of your first pet
  • name of your first car
  • name of the street you grew up on
  • place where you met your spouse

Combined with your legal name, this information can be used to steal your money and your identity.

Personal Social Media Pages

For safety and privacy purposes, it’s always smarter to keep your personal social media accounts separate from your writer social media accounts. Setting up a Facebook author page and a separate author Twitter handle allows you to continue posting personal communications on your personal profiles while you cultivate a following on your author platform. Make sure to link only to your author profiles on your website.

Be mindful of what you share on all your social media pages. Scrub them so that your high school, birth date, current address, etc., aren’t available publicly. And watch what you post: Don’t use geolocation services for pics taken in and around your hometown. Periodically check your privacy settings to make sure you know with whom you’re sharing your personal data.

 

Question: If you have a pen name, why did you decide to use one, and how did you choose it?

Strategies To Keep Your Author Website Safe (For Yourself And Your Visitors) | Web Design Relief

When building your author website, you’ll carefully select your theme, typeface, and color scheme. As a writer, you’ll agonize over every sentence. But, while the creative elements of a website may be well in hand, many writers are not as savvy about the technical security aspects of smart web design. If your author website isn’t… Continue Reading

How To Create Backups Of Your Author Website If Your Web Host Doesn’t

Like the savvy writer you are, you have your author platform running like clockwork. Then one day, you check your email and find that the host for your author website has contacted you—and it’s bad news. Your website has been taken down because it’s been hacked. Unfortunately, this is a problem that’s becoming more and… Continue Reading

Socially Acceptable Grandstanding: 7 Tips For Talking About Yourself On Social Media

These days, many traditional publishing contracts include clauses that require an author to have a social media presence for the purpose of marketing and promotion. An author hoping to use social media to sell books might think the best way to go about this is to incessantly blast Buy! Buy! Buy! on every social media platform. Yet… Continue Reading


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