Hacked Blog: What Would You Do If It Happened Today?
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Getting that new blog up and running and watching those first visitors come rushing through the doors is certainly exciting. You’re all caught up in getting that fresh, new content published and rounding up all your Facebook and Twitter followers. You’re watching your traffic grow and polishing up your graphics. The last thing any of us wants to think of is – What would you do if your blog was hacked today?
Well, I’m here to tell you, it’s inevitable. No matter how large or small, no matter your traffic numbers, and no matter your niche, someone, somewhere is eventually going to at least attempt to hack your blog. And more often than not, they’re going to be successful. Prepare for it. Now.
The first thing you should do is notify your friends and followers, for two reasons. One, they’re going to notice something’s wrong when they come to your blog and see an ad for Viagra or some shady loan company. And two, because if you’re like me, they’ll come to your rescue.
When my itty-bitty personal blog was hacked the first thing I did was sit down and cry. Then I jumped on my Twitter account to let everyone know what was going on and to ask if anyone could help. To my great surprise – and relief – I had three programming engineers jump right into my Twitter stream and they were able to get me back online in about 15 minutes. And two of these guys weren’t even my followers. They just heard my cry for help!
If you prepare for it, you may be able to head those hackers off at the pass:
Make sure you’re using a trustworthy, reliable hosting company. I use HostGator and they have technicians available for online chat 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The moment you call and tell them your site’s been hacked they jump in and start removing the errant code and putting your site back together. HostGator does not take hackers lightly.
HostGator also provides automatic site backups and they’ll re-install your site for free. While they’re at it, they’ll remove any malicious code those hackers managed to install. If you’re feeling particularly vulnerable or paranoid, you can also generate your own backups through your HostGator Control Panel.
I don’t use GoDaddy but I’m assuming they have some type of backup protection as well. If they don’t, you might want to consider moving your hosting.
Next, install a good firewall. If you’re using WordPress, just install the WordPress Firewall Plugin and you’ll be protected from hacks, attacks and injections. (Don’t ask. Just do it.)
Now, go change all your passwords – on everything. Change your password to your blog’s dashboard, the password to your email account, your HostGator account and any other accounts that you had linked to your blog – including Twitter, Facebook and any other assorted social networks or automated blogging programs. Everything.
In conclusion, if you’re out of your depth, which most bloggers are when they get hacked, don’t hesitate to ask for help. If you try to restore your site yourself you may do even more damage. Rest assured, in most cases the damage is reversible. The best thing to do when your blog get hacked is – don’t panic.