Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Viruses and Malware Prevention Methods for Your Blog

by M. J. Joachim

The most obvious point of entry for a virus is through links, something we’ve all been warned about on numerous occasions. Never open a suspicious link, especially if you don’t know the sender, and even if you do, ask yourself how well you know him, because it could be a scammer trying to cause some serious trouble for you. Scammers make a point to act like friends, grooming you so they can win your trust, thereby making it easier for them to perform their misdeeds.

Viruses and malware insert themselves in unsuspecting ways, links being one of their easy ones. They can also infiltrate blog templates, widgets, gadgets and text boxes. Your goal is to minimize this effort by keeping your template clean and up to date. You should also update your widgets, gadgets and text boxes regularly. It’s a simple enough task to uninstall a widget or gadget, and then reinstall it with updated information. You may find your text boxes can be updated with more current information, and it’s always good to provide the most current, useful information for your visitors.

I was updating all the background stuff on my blog today, partly because I was truly bothered by something. My most popular posts on the front of my blog didn’t update, even though they had changed in my dashboard behind the scenes. In fact, all those post were stagnant for a few days, and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why. I uninstalled the gadget, and reinstalled a new one. All of my most popular posts changed accordingly and were finally accurate, showing the same information I was seeing behind the scenes.

As you can see, I also updated my template design, opting to go more simple and easy to read, plus finding a background that relates much better to the theme of this blog. Funny thing is, when I did that, everything started loading a few seconds faster, probably because our blogs are dynamic and need to be updated and changed, not just by adding new posts, but also by updating every aspect of them regularly, because leaving things stagnant on a blog tends to bog it down. It’s also an easy mark for virus infection to insert itself and spread.

Consider a little scratch or tiny cut on your finger. You think nothing of it and leave it alone, continuing to do everything you normally do. Our hands and digits get very busy and dirty during the day, and if we never wash them, that little scratch, and all the germs it gets exposed to, can create a lot of problems, especially if it gets infected. We all know how bad a fingernail trimmed too short can hurt. Imagine a scratch sending viruses into your blood stream.

This is what can happen when we fail to update and clean up our blogs regularly. They can have the tiniest vulnerability, which can then become infected, only to spread to every part of our blogs, leaving a nightmare and lots of pain in its wake. That’s why it’s so necessary to update all aspects of our blogs, changing things out, deleting old comments, removing broken links, changing out pictures, checking old links and updating posts with current information.

If you’re like me, reading html code and trying to find a problem after the fact, is one of the things that scares you most about blogging. In my research for this article, I read a lot of articles that displayed long lists of code, highlighting one specific line, stating, “This is the line you want to remove, the one that’s causing all the problems for your blog.” These same articles suggested checking templates, widgets, gadgets and everything I’ve mentioned here, clearly stating that we need to switch to html mode, search for specific code that may or may not go undetected in scans, and manually remove it.

In the interest of prevention, I’m not waiting for any problems to occur. I’d much rather update everything regularly, delete old gadgets and replace them with new ones, change out my template and give my blog a nice new and updated look. It sure beats waiting for a problem to happen, because from what I’ve read, fixing a problem like that isn’t easy, takes a lot of time, can put your blog in quarantine or even cause you to lose your blog altogether. It’s simply not worth the risk, when all you have to do if change things out now and then, keep things dynamic and take the time to make sure everything remains up to date on your blog. 

None of this is meant to give anyone a false sense of security. Hackers are out there, and their job is to infiltrate the Internet. Even the healthiest people get sick sometimes. This article is for information purposes only, and is intended to help you maintain the healthiest blog possible, without making any guarantees you won't get hacked or be infected by a virus or malware. As much as I'd like to give you a guarantee, it's simply beyond my capabilities.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Please feel free to share this article with anyone you think might be interested. Thanks so much for stopping by today. Until next time, I wish you well.

M. J.

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