If you’ve been blogging for any amount of time, you probably already have security measures in place to protect your blog from those pesky hackers that have nothing better to do than scan servers for security holes.
Standard security measures – like keeping your software updated and maintaining difficult usernames and passwords – work well to protect against most hacking attempts. There’s just one more situation you might encounter that requires an extra layer of security: a stolen laptop.
The Ponemon Institute conducted a study called “The Billion Dollar Lost Laptop Problem” where they surveyed 329 companies about the rate at which laptops are stolen or missing, and how often they’re recovered. The findings were grim. In just one year, an average of 263 laptops went missing and only 12 were recovered. Forty-three percent of laptops went missing off-site (from being taken home or brought to hotel rooms), and 33% were lost while traveling. With account information saved in browsers, a stolen laptop is a quick way to get your blog hacked.
If you think your blog is too unknown for anyone to bother hacking, don’t be so sure. While a thief may not care about the content of your blog, they could take over your accounts and hold them for ransom. So before you pass off laptop security as something only popular bloggers need to concern themselves with, consider these tips to keep your blog safe:
1. Never store passwords in your browser
There are multiple ways to hack a blog that don’t require hacking the actual blog. Although WordPress is often criticized for its major security holes, exploiting them is not the only way to gain unauthorized access.
If you’re like most people, you’ve probably saved your blog’s username and password in your browser. If your laptop gets stolen, the thief will have direct access to your blog. You’ve probably saved your webhosting account information in your browser, too. That’s bad news for a stolen laptop.
If someone gains access to your webhosting account, they can change your blog’s admin username, password, and account email address directly from within the database, locking you out without any indication something’s been changed. If they change the email address associated with all accounts, you won’t get notifications of any changes.
Why browsers aren’t safe for password storage
In the early days, browsers began offering to store passwords out of convenience, but those passwords were only stored locally on the machine. Browsers aren’t stand-alone desktop applications anymore; they’re launched mostly in the cloud and the data on your machine is synced to the cloud.
Your passwords are being stored on someone else’s server and if they experience a security breach, your data will be compromised without your knowledge.
Cloud technology is sold to the consumer as a convenience, and it is for the most part. You just need to be aware of what the cloud actually is if you want to stay secure.
2. Make sure your home security system is effective
The convenience of a laptop allows you to bring it into any room in the house, and you can just leave it there when you need to tend to other duties. This is great for you, but what if someone breaks into your home while you’re gone, steals your laptop, and it isn’t caught on camera?
Remembering to put your laptop in view of your home security system before leaving the house isn’t the most practical solution. Upgrading your home security system to be as effective as possible is the better solution.
3. Use a program like 1Password (Mac & Windows)
One of the easiest ways to protect your laptop is to install a software called “1Password.” This program is launched from your local machine, and stores your passwords behind a master password inside of the program instead of your browser. Each time you begin your browsing session, you can log into 1Password and all of your accounts with saved passwords will be available to you. When you’re done and log out of 1Password, there is no access to your saved passwords.
4. Install the software called “Prey”
If you own a laptop, you need the free and open source software called Prey. When your laptop is stolen, you log into your Prey account and report it missing. Then the software will take photos at periodic intervals (about every 20 minutes) and send them to you so you can see who is using your laptop. Who can resist logging into Facebook? If they do, you’ll capture their name and enough details about them to take action and recover your laptop.