Category Archives: Web Safety Tips For Writers

7 Social Media Scams: Writers Beware! | Web Design Relief

Social media is a great way for writers to build their author platforms and connect with fans, readers, literary agents, and editors. But beware: It also puts your personal information and privacy at risk. A recent survey found that 22% of Internet users reported being hacked at least once.

At Web Design Relief, we understand the importance of following best practices and protecting yourself against common social media scams. Here’s how to stay safe and reduce your odds of becoming a victim.

Common Social Media Scams—Don’t Be Fooled

Profile Hijacking

Profile hijackers take over a victim’s account but keep the profile and images. Then they use the hijacked information to create other accounts. Once the hackers secure a connection with family and friends of the victim, they use scam tactics to try to get money. The hijacker, who is now posing as the hijacked victim, will reach out with fake emergencies that need fast cash. Don’t fall for the scam: I’m on vacation and lost my wallet. Can you wire money or send cash? Another version states: I’m out of town. Can you buy a gift card for my niece’s/nephew’s birthday gift for me? Be suspicious of anyone asking you for money on social media.

Lottery Schemes

Friends, if you receive a notice on social media that you have won a new car, or a diamond ring, or a bag of cash, please investigate before you start celebrating. If you have to pay, it’s not a prize. Lottery scams are becoming more and more cunning each day. What they all have in common is that you are asked to purchase something or send money in order to retrieve your big prize. Be alert. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Here are signs you should run the other way if you have been notified that you are the big winner:

  • You are asked to pay for something
  • You are required to wire money
  • You must first deposit a check that will be sent to you

Catfishing

Catfishing is less about fishing (unless you are fishing for compliments) and more about phony romancing. Catfish create fake online profiles and then seduce victims into fictitious relationships. Once they gain your trust, they work on gaining gifts and your money. Interesting fact: 64% of catfish are women. Don’t get caught by catfish no matter how many shiny lures they wave in front of you!

URL-Shortening Cons

URL shorteners are a convenient way to make a longer URL fit into a limited amount of space. However, they can also mask malicious sites that drop spyware into a user’s computer without the victim ever realizing. If you have concerns about clicking on a link, there are sites such as CheckShortURL that will allow you to see the original link before you click on it.

Chain Messages Hoaxes

Chain mail messages have been around forever—but they’ve never been more dangerous. Though they are no longer written on paper and sent via snail mail, chain mail scams are still prevalent on social media. Cybercriminals threaten that something will happen to users’ data if they don’t forward the message to friends. Or that an account has been cloned and certain steps need to be taken in order to secure it. One of the steps is informing all your friends of this, which ultimately hands over all your contacts to the hacker. Snapchat and Facebook both have been affected by chain-letter scams. Avoid this by immediately deleting any and all chain mail messages.

Online Quizzes

Who doesn’t love an online quiz—they’re harmless and fun, right? Wrong. The Better Business Bureau cautions that many quizzes are designed to mine your computer’s data. Everything from addresses to debit purchases and bank statements. Cybercriminals embed links in quizzes to gain access to personal information stored on your computer. Once these criminals have what they need, they employ other scams such as profile hacking and catfishing to steal your money and/or furtively subscribe you to monthly services billed to your credit card. If you can’t resist a quiz, make sure it comes from a reliable source.

Here’s a fill-in-the-blank quiz for you from Web Design Relief:

If it seems too good to be true, _____ _____.

Money Flipping

Money flipping is not new, but scammers are perfecting new ways to do it. Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are notorious for users advertising ways to turn a few hundred dollars into a few thousand. They show the happy faces of investors enjoying their profits while basking in the sun on their yachts. It’s simple: All you do is send a prepaid debit card number and pin to a certain email or number so the investor will have access to load money. But fraud experts warn that the only people making money off this deal are the scammers who collect the information and go shopping.

Especially For Writers: Avoid These Publishing Scams

There are new scams surfacing every day. Writers, in particular, are vulnerable to publishing scams, especially those involved with self-publishing. Some vanity publishers have earned a reputation for charging exorbitant fees. And there are hybrid printers who charge smaller fees but increase royalties to supposedly offset your cost. For book writers pursuing traditional publishing, there are literary agents who might make you think twice about entrusting them with your work. Find out how to spot a bad literary agent.

For more tips on how to stay safe while on social media, check out our guide: Safety Tips for Social-Networking Writers.

 

Question: What social media scams have you encountered?

Keep Your Website Visitors Safer With These Tools | Web Design Relief

You may have an author website with great design elements, informative content, and lucrative promotional material, but this means little if your website isn’t safe! When it comes to your author website, Web Design Relief feels the safety of those visiting your site should be your top priority. Without the proper precautions, you leave your visitors open to having their personal information stolen or their computers harmed by malware and viruses. No one will be able to focus on your writing if their security is at risk! Put an end to cyber threats and keep your author website visitors safer with these tips and tools:

Author Website Safety Tips and Tools 

Strong password protection: Step number one to protecting your website is making sure that no one with malicious intent can get in. Change your password often, every 90 days, in fact, and avoid using the same password for every account you have. The most secure passwords are over eight characters and include special symbols and numbers and at least one capital letter. If you need advice on creating a strong password, there are online resources that can help you.

Quality web hosting: Your website needs somewhere to live, just like you, so make sure it’s a safe place! A secure web host puts protection first, so your web visitors can worry about your next writing release instead of hackers. An excellent web host will make routine backups of your website, install software updates, and regularly monitor the site—just like Web Design Relief’s hosting service.

HTTPS: Unlike an HTTP web address, HTTPS, which uses an SSL certificate, keeps information on your website encrypted. If you’re not techy, you may have just said, Huh? But the concept is simple: an HTTPS address safeguards information like e-mail addresses or credit card numbers so fans can safely purchase a copy of your book directly from your site. An HTTPS secures your website visitors’ information and prevents it from leaking into the vastness of the World Wide Web!

Secure contact form: A contact form is a great way for editors, agents, and readers to send you an e-mail without your actual e-mail address being visible. But you want to protect theirs as well. If someone sends you a message, then suddenly starts receiving spam right afterward, they will likely not be stopping by your site again anytime soon. So make certain that your contact form keeps user data secure and uses CAPTCHA verification so only humans can input information onto your website, and not spam bots. 

Limit user logins: One of the simplest yet most effective tools for online protection is limiting the number of users who can log in to your site. The more users and login locations you have, the more points of entry a hacker has if they gain access to one or more user passwords. Keep user logins to a minimum, especially those who are administrators of your website. 

Account lockouts: Many hackers attempt to use brute force to access websites and steal information being exchanged on it. Brute force attacks use codes and bots to try thousands of username and password combinations to log into your site. How do you stop this? Simple: Adjust your settings so that after three incorrect login attempts, your account is locked!

Smart security plugins: When it comes to your author website, plugins are your friend! While many websites have built-in security, it doesn’t hurt to keep your web visitors fully protected with as many security measures as possible. Plugins like iThemes Security, Google Authenticator, and Jetpack (just to name a few) protect your website by regularly scanning for malware, setting up firewalls, and making it harder for hackers to gain access with modified login methods.

Your author website should be a hub of networking opportunities to not only boost your writing career but also attract literary agents and editors! This is why it’s important to maintain a safe website. You want visitors to return and not worry that their personal information, along with yours, is at risk. This means you should drop dangerous website habits like never changing your password. Discontinue hosting with a problematic or illegitimate provider, and keep just anyone from uploading content to your website. Instead invest in safety with secure servers, plugins, and more!

 

Question: How often do you use an author’s website to purchase books? Did you feel safe doing so?

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… Continue Reading

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… Continue Reading

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


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