Category Archives: Web Safety Tips For Writers

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 protected and secure, it can be dangerous—not just for you, but for anyone who visits your website. Web Design Relief presents the 411 on website security issues.

How Your Author Website Gets Hacked

An author website is basically made of files stored somewhere in the world on a computer. That computer then publishes those files for everyone to see in the form of a website. But, for any computer connected to the Internet, skilled hackers can gain access and control over the files inside your website. They can then upload their own nasty files and redirect your website to scam other websites—damaging your website’s credibility.

At this point, your website’s host company will take action. Many hosting companies do not claim responsibility for the files you host. So when they realize your site’s been compromised because the files are deemed inappropriate or potentially dangerous, the hosting company can—and will—end your service contract. You’ll lose access to your website and possibly all of your files stored on their servers.

Until the security breach is fixed, your website will be deemed unsafe. Your host company will freeze your account and unpublish your website.

Ways To Keep Your Author Website Secure

Strong password protection. Make sure your website has strong password protection. This includes the login information with your webhost.

Quality web hosting. Confirm your webhost is providing a firewall for your server that will help mitigate the typical hacker attacks.

At Web Design Relief we recommend running your website on WordPress, which has an amazing Content Management System.

Smart security plugins. Having the right plugins in place will help fight hacker attacks. At the very least, a good plugin will notify you about attacks on your website. Using plugins such as Wordfence Security and Anti-Malware will safeguard both you and your visitors.

Up-to-date software. Check that your website is always running the latest software releases. Keeping your author website current is one of the services offered in our Web Design Relief Hosting Care Package.

Secure contact form. You want to have a way for your website visitors to contact you. Rather than listing your personal email on your website, use a contact form. This will protect you from spam and dangerous phishing attempts on your personal information.

One way to weed out spam is to use CAPTCHA on your website’s contact form. This tool will protect you against thousands of spam attacks, which could debilitate your email inbox in minutes.

A New Day…A New Spam Attack—And What To Do About It

Unfortunately, new and unpredictable ways of breaking your website security are constantly being developed by hackers. No website is 100% immune to attack.

But if you remain vigilant and informed, you have a better chance of staying a step ahead of hackers who want to hijack your author website.

If you want to put your website security into the hands of caring tech experts who understand the unique needs of writers, Web Design Relief can help. We host the websites we create for our clients and take full responsibility for the safety and protection for the sites under our care.

We take your website’s safety seriously and are up to date with the most recent security techniques. Schedule a free consultation with our experts today!

 

Question: What are some of the ways you protect your website?

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 more prevalent in today’s cyber world. Maybe your security wasn’t strong enough—your password was easy to crack, or key files were left unprotected. As a result, hackers were able to get into your site’s back end and upload all sorts of nasty files. When this happens, your web host—the company that provides a home for your website—has no choice but to shut your website down until you delete the files. Aside from being extremely inconvenient, this breach may also result in the loss of some of your blog posts or any pages you may have created around the time of the hack. And while your website is down, you become virtually invisible to your fans, potential new readers, editors, and literary agents.

Here’s another website worst-case scenario: Your web host experiences a data loss due to technical error or natural disaster. If they backup your website automatically (which is something you should check when signing up for web hosting), then no harm done—but what if they perform backups only once a month? Your entries from a few days before the data loss could be missing.

How To Protect Your Author Website From Cyber Attacks

Ask your web host if a backup service is provided. Find out if the backup service is already in the terms of your hosting agreement or if it’s an add-on service. Also: Do they charge you to access the backups if they do them for you?

Learn to make your own backups. Making a backup of a WordPress website is not too difficult, even if you’re not an expert at navigating the back end of your server. Because, like so many other online processes—there’s an app for that! There are plugins/apps available that you can use to automate and simplify the backup process:

Free Backup Plugins/Apps

Paid Backup Plugins/Apps

The most popular plugin on this list is BackupBuddy. One of the major benefits of this plugin is that it allows you to schedule daily, weekly, or monthly backups yourself. It can then automatically save the backups to a cloud hard drive like Dropbox, or you can even email them to yourself. If you’re on a budget, you might want to try the free plugin UpdraftPlus, which offers similar features to BackupBuddy.

Put your author website in expert hands. If you’re not the least bit tech-savvy, or you simply don’t have the time to regularly back up your author website, Web Design Relief offers a Website Hosting Care Package that can help you protect all the work you’ve put into creating your author website. This comprehensive Care Package is affordably priced and includes regular site backups for restore points in case of emergencies, regular installation of updates (for WordPress, theme, and/or plugins), follow-up maintenance should updates cause problems on the site, and more.

 

QUESTION: How are you prepared when your website needs a backup to the rescue?

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