With the outbreak of the WannaCry virus - that is, the malware currently holding your medical records to ransom - sharp focus has once again been brought upon IT security.

Several years ago, I hosted a "lifestyle" blog (I don't really know what that means). Me and some friends together starting writing posts about anything and everything we could think about.

Now whilst it wasn't particularly successful is was slowly gathering followers and we all felt pretty good about ourselves; which made it all the more painful when it was hacked by "the Kurdish Hackers Collective" or some such bullshit organisation.

As the tech-oriented of our group, it fell to me get the blog up and running. I didn't have any backups. That day I learnt a very valuable lesson.

If you'll put up with me a little bit longer, I'll like to tell you a little bit on how you can keep your blog's content safe.

Your first consideration should be protecting your local machine; your home (or office if you're a fancy blogger) computer.

Depending what operating system you use, you should use different tactics as far as keeping your blog content safe.

Mac

The Apple logo

Anti-Virus

I'll take the easy option first. There's no two ways about it. Macs are far less prone to viruses and malware. This isn't Apple fan-boying. But before you get carried away... it is possible for a Mac to malware. It's just not common. That's why you're probably better of saving your anti-virus money and putting all of yours eggs in the backups basket.

Backups

All Apple products ship with a nice, easy to use backup solution; iCloud. Instead of paying for anti-virus put your money into upgrading your iCloud package. But don't forget to put some aside for hardware - but we'll come to that.

Windows

The Windows logo

Anti-Virus

Windows enjoys a much larger market share and a development team that insists on doing everything themselves. They often rewrite things that Mac and Linux users have tried and tested for years in a Microsofty and somtimes less good way. Because of this (and the aforementioned market-share), they're the largest target for virus/malware writers.

Here's the thing though... anti-virus companies have been conning you for years. Five to ten years ago, Microsoft released Microsoft Security Essentials for Windows 7. This was the go-to solution for anti-virus. It was free (as in beer), unintrusive and effective. It was built by Microsoft and functioned perfectly.

Don't get me wrong, it didn't catch 100% of viruses but it was better than any other antivirus at the time. Then, when Windows 8 was released in 2012, Microsoft built Security Essentials straight into the operating system. The best antivirus became part of Windows. All you have to do if you're running Windows 8, 8.1 or 10 is just make sure Windows Defender is enabled. If you're using Windows 7 (good for you), you can still download Microsoft Security Essentials here.

The fact is, you don't really need anti-virus on Windows (8+) anymore unless you're a complete fool. The golden rule is this.

Don't download anything that you don't recognise.

Urgh... fine. If my words haven't swayed you, you can download Malware Bytes. It's the next best thing and it does occasionally catch the odd adware/toolbar.

Backups

Like Mac, Windows 8+ ships with it's own cloud backup solution. You can use it. It's okay. The main thing with backups is that they're not stored in the same place as your PC. Physically in a different place. If you have an external drive and your house burns down or floods, your backups are gone too.

Hardware (Whatever your OS)

If you're using your computer for work or blogging, you really ought to insure it. If you don't want to insure it, make sure you're putting some money aside so you can afford to replace it when it gives up the ghost.

Apart from backups, your next biggest hurdle to getting back up and running is the cost of the physical machine. Let's say you own a £1000 MacBook and you drop it off something high or put it under something heavy. That's a huge amount to fork out.

If I had to guess, you want to put away about £25 a month. Macs tend to be a lot more expensive but also tend to last longer (so as long as you're not working on the cutting edge, run them until they die) so the amount evens out.

Blogger

The Blogger logo

Although Blogger is run by Google and should be pretty immune to hackers, it's not bullet proof. Just to be on the safe side, you should regularly export your blog content and save it. Do this once a week at least, but if you think you have a post your can't afford to loose, run a backup. Here's a page on how to backup blogger.

Wordpress

The Wordpress logo

Speaking as a programmer, Wordpress is fucking horrendous software. If you feel so inclined, you can have a look at Wordpress's code (they had to disable the bug reporting area). Although it provides a helpful back-end and a much better selection of themes and libraries, it's rife with bugs and security flaws.

If you're going to use it, make sure you update Wordpress itself and it's themes and plugins often. Seriously. Each plugin is a door for a potential hacker to use.

Backing up Wordpress is a bit more difficult. There're plugins and stuff but what you want is access to the server and professional. If you're using hosted wordpress, they might do backups for you.

Final thoughts

If you have questions, tweet at me or email me or something. But there's one final consideration. Remember that 99% of hacking isn't some kid in a mask with a special tool. 99% of hacking is social engineering. That means most of the work is done convincing the user to give up their password themself. So, use strong passwords and don't use the same passwords across platforms otherwise a hack in your blog opens up your other accounts.

Sam Littler