How to Start a Secure Blog: Your Must-Do Checklist
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How to Start a Secure Blog: Your Must-Do Checklist

Are you a seasoned blogger or a beginner enthusiast? Whether or not you have already gathered a wide audience or are planning to start your blog, a secure place to host it is one of the most important factors for growth. Our in-depth article describes all the necessary steps to create a safe home for your content. Learn how to start a secure blog by reading our instructions below.


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Introduction: How Should I Start a Secure Blog?




Every successful, secure blog depends on a stable and secure hosting solution. Many users disregard this fact especially newbies and don’t realize how vulnerable their site is until they get hacked and all their efforts are wasted.. Computer criminals worldwide use automated tools to test blogs for exploits. This is one of the reasons why a trusted hosting solution should be used.

Today blogs are much more than personal diaries. They contain content of all types: text, images and videos. And depending on the used platform they can be setup to handle thousands of users at the same time. Allowing even a single vulnerability can cripple even the biggest blog. A successful hit on a blog can lead to any of the following actions:

  • Defacement ‒ This is usually the case when it comes to hacker activists of various criminal collectives. They erase the content of the blog and post their own text and images in place of the articles that the author(s) have posted.
  • Sabotage ‒ As web blogs are usually only one of the services hosted on a given server it may be used as the intrusion vector for more complex and devastating attacks.
  • Malware Distribution ‒ Hacked and hacker-controlled blogs can be used to deliver computer viruses of many types. They can be inserted in the articles themselves, as hyperlinks linked to executable files or hosted on other platforms.
  • Spam Links Distribution ‒ The hackers can generate profit by inserting various spam links that generate income for them based on user clicks and interactions.

The list showcases only some of the consequences of a hacker breach. To prevent the such incidents from happening continue reading our article to learn all about the different technologies and factors that are related to blog security.


The Importance of A Quality Hosting Solution

Probably one of the most important choices every blogger has to make is which hosting provider will provide the best home for his/her blog. The right hosting plan will make sure that all web content is being transmitted in a fast and efficient manner which is proven to be one of the main factors for attracting new audience and establishing a community around the blog.

Nowadays web blogs can require different technologies and depending on the average load the hosting companies will be able to provide or adjust a hosting plan suitable for every need. The quality hosting solutions all provide dedicated support lines that can be used in case of an issue. Customer support is an important factor to consider as many of the cheaper or smaller hosting operators do not have the available resources to always respond to queries in time. And when the problems are security related this can lead to serious consequences to both the victims and the hosting company in general.

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Web Hosting Solutions: Security Factors for a Secure Blog

It is important to consider that when choosing which hosting solution to buy the price is not the most important factor. To find the best solution, potential customers should look up the facilities and where the servers are stored and operated. In the majority of cases they are housed in highly-secured data centers. This guarantees that in the event of a power outage, fire, natural disasters there are backup generators and uninterpretable power supplies will keep the machines running. All network connections are handled through several high-profile tiers that are routed directly to the global Internet service providers.

Data centers are noteworthy for their security, implementing state of the art physical security and having on the spot personnel at all times. In addition the servers are configured in such a way that prevents some of the basic hacker attacks. The following technologies are common in all major hosting solutions:

  • Anti-Spam Monitoring ‒ The hosting operators update blacklists with spam and hacker-controlled emails to safeguard the customer inboxes from spam attacks. When this feature is activated (either automatically or manually) a large part of such messages are discarded automatically, thereby reducing the system load and protecting the customers from any malware payloads.
  • Site Monitoring Tools ‒ Advanced utilities that monitor the state of the servers hardware and software configuration are used to track the activity of the machines at any time. This is used to both optimize and secure them from failure or performance disruption.
  • Malware Detection ‒ Hosting companies can use different anti-virus engines to scan all uploaded files for traces of computer malware. The use of such technologies can prevent a virus outbreak even of the web blogs are hacked.

In addition, web hosting providers can provide another option for the safety of your web blog ‒ firewall rules. They seek to protect the servers (and all hosted content on them) from attacks such as DDOS campaigns. By using advanced stateful packet inspection (SPI) and other techniques a quality hosting provider can ensure that the web blogs are protected from a multitude of dangers.

We recommend that all prospective blog owners also research the availability of automatic web scripts updating. This may not be always possible technically but if you are using a popular CMS platform then custom solutions or patch management options are probably built-in.


A Secure Blog Can Depend on SSL Technology

When it comes to securing a web site of any kind, be it an online shop or a web blog, the use of a SSL certificate is highly recommended. Its very easy for readers to check if a site is legitimate, they only need to look for the lock icon or green bar in the browser. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, a web technology that creates a security connection using a strong cryptographic cipher.

This means that all site interactions are both private (eavesdropping and network sniffing is impossible) and trusted (data integrity is maintained). The technology is powered via special certificates that are issued by specialist Certificate authorities (CA’s) that are responsible for proving that the web site is operated by a registered and known account holder.

By utilizing SSL the blog owners will be able to guarantee that all interactions will remain secure. Such measures are required when it comes to providing certain functions such as selling services, accepting donations or engaging in other financial transactions. The technology is recommended when user registration or another form of identity is provided as well, just to prevent from personal data stealing attacks.

The Let’s Encrypt initiative is a certificate authority that launched last year and provides free security certificates to web sites via an easy to use automated process. This helps site administrators to alleviate some of the harder steps that they usually go through with their hosting providers. The service is being provided by a public benefit group organization called the Internet Security Research Group (ISRG).

By using it administrators can receive their own Let’s Encrypt security certificate by which enables secure encrypted communications. Having this feature enabled helps both search engines and computer users to distinguish legitimate from counterfeit sites.


Automated Backups Ensure Web Blog Safety

Web blog administrators should carefully consider the opportunity to enable automated and scheduled backups of the site’s content. Usually this function is available as a configurable option within the site’s administrative panel.

A backup can protect the content from some of the following case scenarios:

  • Content Corruption ‒ Problems with deleted posts, missing articles or other types of content corruption can easily be solved by restoring an earlier copy of the site. Usually the best option is to set daily backups at a set interval and post the articles in predefined times. Such tactics ensure that the web administrators will always have an up-to-date backup file that can be restored at any time if necessary.
  • Database Failure ‒ Almost all blog software depend on databases for storing important settings and the content. If for some reason a wrong command is issued to the application or the database frontend the web blog may become irresponsive. In such cases a backup can restore the previously running state.
  • Hacker Breach ‒ In cases where hacker attacks are suspected a backup can be applied to protect from possibly malicious script instances or dangerous content modification.

Web Blog Automatic Updates Are a Necessity

Setting up automated updates will depend very well on the exact content management system used for powering the blog. The site owners should differentiate between the different components that may all have the ability to be auto-updated such as themes and plugins apart from the core of the CMS platform on which the site is built.

All sites employ a template of some sort which in most cases contains code that links to outside sources. The template code can be changed over time by its designers and in many cases newer versions not only provide updated graphics, bug fixes,but also safeguard against detected or potential security issues.

Surprisingly a very large part of hacker attacks are carried out through out-dated plugins. A site may have a varied number of such add-ons depending on the needs of the site owners. Various plugins provide all kinds of extra functionalities to a blog, but as their numbers grow, so does the necessity of carefully monitoring their state. Note that not all content management systems have the ability to check the security status of the installed plugins. This is the reason why blog owners should be careful when selecting the extensions.

These are merely the base recommendations that every site owner should follow. Consider only those hosting solutions that can ensure the security of your blogs by always providing the state of the art hardware, technologies and first-class support. To help you select the best hosting solution
and based on our experience, further in this article we have listed the hosting providers we
recommend:

1. Siteground

Overview: SiteGround is a popular choice for both small page and larger sites. The hosting solution has expanded into offering both shared hosting and specialized WordPress blog and Joomla CMS sites. The home pages that SSD drives are used for all plans to increase the speed, as well as providing a secure platform. Siteground has a specialized team that has written over 800 firewall rules to protect against vulnerabilities.

Price: Shared Hosting (Starting At 3.95 €/mo), Cloud Hosting (Starting At 64.00 €/mo), Dedicated Hosting (Starting At 179.00 €/mo), WordPress Hosting (Starting At 3.95 €/mo) and Joomla Hosting (Starting At 3.95 €/mo). Prices are excluding VAT.

Plans: Plans are available for both small and starting out sites and large enterprise installations. The customers can choose shared hosting plans, dedicated WordPress or Joomla installations or cloud hosting solutions. The dedicated hosting solutions provide managed servers with active proprietary software for boosting performance.

Security: Siteground offer data centers on three continents help optimize the loading speed of the sites. Data is secured both physically in the centers that follow strict access controls and online by employing an array of network protection solutions.

Support: Available support options include telephone, live chat, knowledge base, tutorials and a ticket system.

What We Like:Siteground is one of the biggest providers and has gained a reputation for being a popular choice for both small sites and large corporations.

What’s Missing:By default the prices are listed without VAT. Customers need to calculate the tax by themselves or scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the “Show prices with VAT” button.


2. A2

Overview: A2 Hosting is a well-respected playe having started operation in August 2001. As one of the big players the company is trusted to host a variety of sites, both personal and of other companies and institutions.

Price: Shared Hosting (Starting At €3.29/mo), Managed VPS Hosting (Starting At €27.76/mo), Managed VPS Hosting With Root Access (Starting At €27.76/mo), Unmanaged VPS Hosting (Starting At €4.21/mo), Email Hosting (Starting At €3.29/mo), Reseller Hosting (Starting At €11.10/mo) and Cloud Hosting (Starting At €12.62 /mo).

Plans: A2 provides both starting out users with shared hosting solutions that offer both a Linux or a Windows environment. They provide special plans for optimized web appliances such as WordPress blog hosting.

Security: The security team offers free HackScan protection which is a system that effectively blocks intrusions before they can damage the site and the hosted content. In addition other measures are implemented: rebootles kernel updates, brute force defense and dual firewalls.

Support: The support team is available over the phone and via a ticketing system, as well as a live chat. A detailed knowledge base is updated frequently.

What We Like:We like the fact hat A2 provides an useful newsletter service that contains web development tips, marketing strategies and other related content.

What’s Missing:The site offers the option of comparing the available hosting plans, however the available options are limited to only five competitors at the moment.


3. HostGator

Overview: HostGator is among the popular providers that are mentioned in almost review and comparison test. They offer a variety of plans that cater to the needs of every individual and organization.

Price: Basic Hosting (Starting At $3.95/mo), Basic Cloud Hosting (Starting At $4.95/mo), WordPress Hosting (Starting At $5.95/mo), Reseller Hosting (Starting At $19.95/mo), VPS Hosting (Starting At $19.95/mo) and Dedicated Hosting (Starting At $119.00/mo).

Plans: A dedicated WordPress hosting plan is available. It offers HostGator customers a “super charged cloud architecture” which speeds the processing time of the service and the site’s speed. Auto backups and detailed configuration of the installation is available from a special cloud interface.

Security: HostGator servers provide the “CodeGuard” feature which creates convenient daily backups. Malware infections and hacker intrusions are countered using a daily cloud-based protection solution.

Support: Customers have the option of using video tutorials, company forums, live chat, a toll free phone line and a ticketing system to contact the support team.

What We Like:The company’s pages are laid out in an efficient way which makes it easy for customers to choose the best service. We like the fact that HostGator are aiming to create a community by maintaing a forums section and provide detailed information on setting up various appliances by creating video tutorials.

What’s Missing:Premium themes and add-ons are not available through the service.


4. InMotion Hosting

Overview: InMotion Hosting is an US-based company that strives to provide professional hosting solutions and meet every client’s needs. They are a top-rated CNET web hosting company and offer dedicated WordPress hosting plans.

Price: Shared Business Hosting (Starting At $5.99/mo), Managed SSD VPS Hosting (Starting At $29.99/mo), Dedicated SSD Hosting (Starting At $99.99/mo), Enterprise Dedicated Hosting (Starting At $319.99/mo), Reseller Hosting (Starting At $13.99/mo) and WordPress Hosting (Starting At $5.99/mo).

Plans: The dedicated WordPress plans offered by the company offer ready-made configuration sets that can be applied to quick start blogs in a matter of minutes. InMotion Hosting has a free Website builder, free themes and stock content to ease the site administrators .

Security: The secure servers operated by the company offer auto-updates for the appliances (including WordPress), free SSL certificates, hacking protection, custom firewall rules and DDOS protection.

Support: InMotion Hosting operates a support center with product guides, community support, live chat, emails, ticketing system and a phone line.

What We Like:A dedicated WordPress support team is available. Ecommerce plugin management is specifically mentioned among the features of the special hosting plan.

What’s Missing:Detailed information about the data centers is not available.


5. BlueHost

Overview: BlueHost is an American hosting company that powers more than 2 million websites and has a time of over 750 employees. The service partners actively with the WordPress team to provide a platform for the needs of every blog site owner.

Price: Shared Hosting (Starting At $2.95/mo), Optimized WordPress Hosting (Starting At $19.99/mo), VPS Hosting (Starting At $19.99/mo), Dedicated Hosting (Starting At $79.99/mo) and Reseller Hosting (Starting At $11.99/mo).

Plans: The WordPress plan has an enhanced cPanel that makes it easier for site administrators to configure their deployed instances. The company offers a 1-click installation and 24/7 specialized support.

Security: BlueHost has implemented several features that aim to protect the customers from hacking attacks. They frequently post helpful tips on improving security and have a dedicated team that responds to incoming threats.

Support: A help center is available with detailed information on how to perform routine actions. Support options include a ticket system, live chat and phone.

What We Like:We like the fact that BlueHost works directly with the WordPress team and their service is recommended by them.

What’s Missing:In comparison with other companies BlueHost does offer a lot of shared hosting plans.


6. Flywheel

Overview: FlyWheel offer specialized managed WordPress Hosting that cater to creative users, agencies and enterprise clients.

Price: Starting At $14/mo.

Plans: The service offers specialized managed WordPress plans that provide blog hosting services to creative agencies and bloggers that need an optimized solution. FlyWheel provides premier tools and ready-made packages to quickly build the intended site.

Security: An advantage of using managed hosting solutions like FlyWheel is the fact that all configuration options are made through the customer portal. This prevents a large part of potential security risks. Options such as staging and site cloning are provided for the administrators.

Support: Clients can reach the support team by creating a ticket, phone or live chat.

What We Like:FlyWheel has developed a reliable solution for both individuals and companies to create a fully-working blog for only a few minutes. We like the fact that a lot of creative agencies and individuals have reviewed the company with a positive remark.

What’s Missing:While FlyWheel does offer enterprise plans they do not offer unmanaged hosting.


7. Liquid Web

Overview: Liquid Web provides a rich list of solutions that can be used to setup a site of any size ‒ from a small blog to a large dynamic network for corporations.

Price: Dedicated Servers (Starting At $199/mo), Cloud VPS Hosting (Starting At $59.99/mo), Cloud Dedicated Hosting ($135/mo), Cloud Sites ($150/mo), Managed WordPress ($119/mo) and Advanced Hosting Solutions.

Plans: Liquid Web offers an array of plans that are suitable for blog hosting. They have a dedicated WordPress managed plan that is optimized for performance and security.

Security: Security is taken seriously as the hosting provider has invested in the availability of many technologies. Customers can take advantage of a performance-optimized content delivery network, DDOS protection and professional backups.

Support: Support options include a knowledge base, phone support and live chat.

What We Like: A detailed “Hosting Buyer’s Guide” is available for potential customers, as well as an in-depth overview of all available plans.

What’s Missing:The homepage’s web design can be confusing in some aspects.


8. DreamHost

Overview: DreamHost is a large hosting provider, one of the first choices of web administrators when it comes to finding a place to house their projects.

Price:Shared Hosting (Starting At $7.95/mo), DreamPress (Starting At $16.95/mo), Managed VPS Hosting (Starting At $15/mo), Dedicated Hosting ($149/mo).

Plans: The dedicated WordPress plans offer both a shared and a fully managed hosting solution. We like the fact that the “DreamPress” package is able to scale dynamically to the load and no bandwidth caps are instituted.

Security: The JetPack Premium upgrade is provided to each subscriber for free. It allows the administrators to set up automated daily backups, scan for malware protection, protect the content from spam and brute force attacks.

Support: DreamHost offers a rich knowledge base, community forums and tech support contactable through their portal.

What We Like: We like the fact that the WordPress plans are tuned for performance and the provider has preinstalled a SSL certificate. This makes the creation of an eCommerce instance very convenient.

What’s Missing:DreamHost do not offer phone support.


9. GreenGeeks

Overview: GreenGeeks is a hosting solution that is noteworthy for its commitment to using renewable energy to power their facilities. It offers a lot of plans suitable for sites of any size, including dedicated WordPress solutions.

Price: Managed WordPress Hosting (Starting At $3.95/mo), VPS Hosting (Starting At $39.95/mo), Reseller Hosting ($19.95/mo), Dedicated Server Hosting (Starting At $169/mo).

Plans: The specialized plans are hosted on SSD Raid drives and feature security and performance optimized servers for blogs of all types.

Security: The WordPress plans come with several security features that have been integrated by the hosting provider. Green Geeks provide automatic updates for the blog engine, account isolation from other customers, real-time security scanning and professional brute force and DDOS protection.

Support: The site offers a knowledge base, ready-made tutorials, email support, live chat and phone support.

What We Like: Green Geeks emphasize on server uptime and reliability. We like the fact that the servers are powered through renewable energy sources.

What’s Missing: No eCommerce options are advertised for the WordPress package.


10. iPage

Overview: iPage offers hosting solutions that are suitable both for companies, blogs and personal sites. They also provide marketing service and consulting.

Price: Shared Hosting(Starting At $1.99/mo) and WordPress Hosting (Starting At $3.75/mo).

Plans: The specialized WordPress package is offered in two versions ‒ WP starter and WP Essential. Prospective blog owners can choose for themselves which would fit them better.

Security: The WP Essential plan comes with enhanced security features such as malware scanning and a dedicated firewall.

Support: The support team can be reached through a live chat or telephone. Other sources of information include knowledge bas articles and user guides. In addition a support tickets system is also available.

What We Like: We like the fact that iPage can be combined with the marketing services provided by the company to create a blog that can excel both in performance and in terms SEO and content optimization.

What’s Missing: Only the more expensive WP Essential plan includes the added security features and performance optimizations.


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Martin Beltov

Martin graduated with a degree in Publishing from Sofia University. As a cyber security enthusiast he enjoys writing about the latest threats and mechanisms of intrusion.

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