Is Your Blog Under Attack?

Every day our blogs come under attack from various elements which are invisible to the eye. Just like protecting our families, pets, and anything else we value, we should also do all we can to protect our blogs from these threats.

Threats come in all sorts of forms, but there are a few simple steps you can put in place to keep your blog is safe.

Listed below are some measures I’ve put in place on my blog to help stop some of these threats from threatening me or my blog.

Comments

What do you do if some of the comments on your blog posts are not friendly or do not agree with what you have to say?

I’ve blogged for over six years and, in that time, I have received a handful of comments that were not only very personal but were also rude, racist or homophobic.  

Because I moderate all comments before they are published on my blog, I was able to stop these comments in their tracks. They were of the nature that did not call for a reply, and I simply marked them as spam, sent them to my spam folder and then deleted them. 

I’ve often see rude, unfriendly comments and spam appear on blogs that I follow. Not only can they be shocking in their nature, but in many cases, the very name of the commenter can also be very offensive. 

Unfortunately, Akismet, the WordPress software that blocks unwanted spam, doesn’t always catch all of it. So it’s worth considering monitoring all comments first before they are published on your blog posts. 

Follow these steps to set up monitoring comments.

Open your WordPress Blog Dashboard

Click on Manage to open up a dropdown menu and then click on Settings.

Click on Manage to open up a dropdown menu

In the settings menu, click on Discussion.

Click on Discussion

Look for the ‘Before a comment appears’ box and slide open the button next to ‘Comment must be manually approved.’

Slide the button open to activate the setting

Click on the ‘Save settings’ button. 

Don’t forget to save the changes you’ve made

You may also have noticed an option to allow comments to be posted straight away from people who have previously had comments approved by you. 

Has somebody left comments before? You may like to consider this option

For bloggers who are dealing with hundreds of comments daily, this is a great time-saving option as you don’t need to manually approve them. 

However, be wary. Somebody who may have left a perfectly friendly comment on an earlier post could well leave an unfriendly comment on a future post.

How to deal with people who don’t agree with you

Sometimes I receive comments from people who may not agree with what I have to say, but that’s a part of the whole blogging experience. 

However, providing their comments have been written in a friendly and professional manner, I will approve their comments and respond to them. 

Nobody should tolerate rudeness or bad manners, so don’t allow any of these kinds of comments to appear on your blog. 

If comments are unfriendly, rude or make you feel threatened, mark them as spam.

Look after your fellow bloggers

If you see a rude comment or one that is obviously spam on a blog that you follow then make the blog’s owner aware of the problem. They’ll probably thank you for looking out for them.

How to block certain bloggers or readers from leaving comments

Further down the same page on your dashboard, you will also see a box entitled ‘Comment Blacklist‘.

Don’t want to receive comments from certain bloggers or readers? Add them to your comment blacklist.

This is where you can add certain words, the web address of a blog, email address or the internet protocol of a user who you want to block. 

Any comments left from these users will automatically be sent to your blog’s trash bin.

Internet trolls

If you are unlucky enough to find that an internet troll has decided to try and make your blog their new home, then just ignore it. 

#night #photography #SundayStills
Trolls can come in all shapes and sizes

Whatever you do, don’t engage in any conversations with the internet troll. Whether it be through comments or if they try and contact you through your ‘contact me‘ page, ignore them. 

Internet trolls will do all they can to get you to react to what they have said. They may even try and get some of your readers to engage with them by responding to comments they have left. 

Don’t give internet trolls the satisfaction of acknowledging them in any shape or form. 

Consider removing all their comments and don’t allow them to upset you in any way. They’ll soon get the message and move on.

Back-Up

How would you feel if you wake up one morning and find that all the content on your blog had disappeared? 

It’s the stuff of nightmares, so be kind to your blog and make sure you back up its content regularly. 

I wrote a post on how to perform a backup of the content of your WordPress blog. Click here to read it.

Anti Virus Software

Make sure you protect your blog by ensuring you have updated anti-virus software on your computer. 

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

If hackers can get access to well-known websites, then they may be able to get access to your computer.

Malware could allow cybercriminals to take control of your computer, log your keystrokes, or access your personal information and financial data, which could lead to identity theft. So, not only could your blog be at risk from hackers, but so could your bank details and other personal information.  

Click here for more details. My thanks to Debby Kaye for including a link to the information in one of her recent blog posts.

Remember to also keep all other software on your computer up to date and to use the latest versions of software of any website you visit regularly. 

This all may sound nightmarish, and you may ask yourself who would want to attack your blog, but it’s something every blogger should take seriously. Don’t become a victim. 

However, whatever you do, keep enjoying your blogging experience. 

Although attacks on our blogs are happening all the time, your anti-virus software (and the software used by WordPress), deals with the majority of threats without you knowing about it.

What about you?

  • Is there anything you’d like to share with us on how you protect your blog from unwanted attention and attacks?

Join the discussion by leaving me a comment that I can respond to with more than just a ‘thank you.’

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Author: Hugh W. Roberts

My name is Hugh. I live in the city of Swansea, South Wales, in the United Kingdom. My blog covers a wide range of subjects, the most popular of which are my blogging tips posts. If you have any questions about blogging or anything else, please contact me by clicking on the 'Contact Hugh' button on the menu bar. Click on the 'Meet Hugh' button on the menu bar to learn more about me and my blog.

83 thoughts

  1. Hi Hugh, another interesting post. To date, I haven’t had a problem such as you describe above. I do have to approve the first comment by a new blogger and I don’t tolerate posts with links unless it is a blogger I know who is linked to a related post on the same topic. Those I appreciate and enjoy. Like all good things in life, there are the odd bumps in the road. I accept them with the same fortitude I deal with arrogant people [usually men, but not always] in work meetings.

    1. I don’t mind people leaving links in comments if they’re related to the post they’ve been left on, but I don’t tolerate any links being left that have nothing to do with the subject of the post. I often get the latter from bloggers who seem desperate to get noticed and who do the same thing on other blogs (some of whom don’t seem to have a problem in allowing the comment to show). I always mark those kinds of comments as spam.

      Thanks for joining the discussion, Robbie.

  2. Thankyou again for such great advice. So far I have been lucky with comments but I think I will do this. This is why comments on other blogs have to be moderated before it goes onto the blog? I do have a question. How do i disable cookies, I have had to do this when I want to post my link onto Senior Salon but how do I do it so i dont have to go in each time? Plus for some reason I am unable to like posts. Frustrating I know. #SenSal

    1. Yes, if you leave a comment and then see a message saying that it’s waiting to be moderated, then the blogger has either chosen to moderate all comments or those from first-time commenters.

      With regards to your question, I’ve heard of other bloggers experiencing the same problems with not being able to ‘like’ some blog posts. From what I know, it’s something to do with the particular web browser you use to search and use on the web. Years ago, I had a similar problem when using Safari, and was told to try using Chrome. When I switched over, all of the issues I had with using WordPress went away. I’m still using Chrome today. However, I recommend you contact the WordPress Happiness Engineers and report the problems to them. I’m sure they’ll have the answers and be able to help.

  3. Thanks, Hugh, for the sound advice. I choose the route of if one comment has been left and it’s approved, then I will let them through without moderating. I moderate comments with links. So far so good. #senisal

    1. I think it’s a good idea to always moderate comments that include links, Natalie. One never knows what somebody may try and attach to a comment should they have had a comment approved before. Better to be safe than sorry.

    1. Good to hear about the lack of trolls on your blog. Sometimes, it can be a keyword you mention in the title of a blog post that attracts them over. Anyway, at least you now know how to deal with any that do visit. And I hope that none do come to visit.

  4. Thank you for the helpful information. I’ve been fortunate over the years to have had very few rude comments even though I don’t moderate them. I try to do all the other things you suggest and haven’t had a problem. I know a fellow blogger who discovered that someone had managed to edit many of her blog posts and add links. That was a new one to me.

    1. You’re welcome, Debbie.

      I’ve never heard of anyone being able to edit the blog posts and add links to somebody else’s blog posts (unless they’ve been added as a contributor and been given full access by the blogger concerned). I can only imagine that they must have hacked the blog in some way. It must have been a very frightening experience and is why keeping our anti-virus software up to date is so important.

  5. Sound advice as always Hugh. Does the anti virus tip apply if you have a WordPress hosted site? I thought they would take care of that for me – am I wrong??
    I’ve not had too much of a problem with spam on this site but on a different blog I have, I can get 300 in a day which are clearly coming from bots. They all seem to originate in Russia…

    1. It would be worth checking with your hosting company. When you go self-hosted, there are lots of plugins you can install. Some may be free, some will be at a cost. It probably varies from hosting company to hosting company and what kind of plans they offer. A basic plan won’t contain everything that the next plan up offers, so I’d check with them.

      Spam can be a significant problem, but don’t allow it to stress you out. I check my spam folder at least twice a day and empty it out with a simple one-click button. That way, I don’t need to have to go through lots of it to check if any genuine comments have ended up in there by mistake.

  6. Always good to read your expert advice Hugh! I have now gone down the route of if one comment has been left and it’s approved, then I will let them through without moderating. I do keep a close eye on comments and have no problem with moving anything I don’t like to spam. I haven’t had any arguments or trolls so far – fingers crossed! But spam is another matter entirely. I have recently deleted a very old post that attracted so many spam comments that it wasn’t worth keeping it on my blog, I’m talking hundreds a day, and since then the spam count has been much more manageable! Thanks for sharing these important tips.

    1. I think the spam problem gets worse as a blog becomes more established, Debbie. I’ve never had to delete a post because of too much spam, but if the information in the post is out-of-date or no longer valid, then I would have done what you did. Of course, you can also turn the comments off posts to stop spam coming through, and although I’ve always discouraged bloggers closing comments (because it’s like closing the door on your readers), I think it’s worth adding something to the post explaining why you’ve had to close comments on it. I think it’s better than simply closing comments off without any explanation as to why they’ve been closed.

      1. That’s a good suggestion Hugh which I did briefly consider. It seems that the image attached to the post was attracting a lot of attention so it was best to delete the whole post. I’ve never closed comments off either for the reasons you mention. The spam numbers are very pleasant at the moment!!!

        1. My spam numbers fluctuate a lot, too. One particular post has had thousands of attempts at getting spam messages onto the post. I’m not sure why, as it’s a post about ‘windows’ (when I stepped in for SundayStills a few years ago). The odd one still comes through for that post, but nowhere near as many as I used to get. For me, what attracts spam to a post is an interesting subject, but I’m not sure it would interest many others, Debbie. I’m glad you got your spam under control. I know it can overwhelm some bloggers and make their blogging experience a bit of a misery.

  7. Totally awesome post Hugh. It will definitely be in my next edition of Writer’s Tips. Also, I’m surprised to see quite a few blogs that don’t have their comment approval on. 🙂 xx

    1. Thanks Debby.

      I think it can be down to saving some time when bloggers don’t have their comment approval on. When I first started to blog, I allowed comments from those you had left a comment before to automatically show. Then, after a particularly experience when a nasty comment aimed at another blogger was left on one of my posts, I switched to moderating all comments so that it could never happen again. I was horrified that the comment was left while I slept, and I was not able to delete it until the following morning. By that time, it had been read by lots of people (including the person it was aimed at). It’s an experience I never wanted to have the chance of happening again, hence I switched to moderating all comments regardless of who they were from.

      I appreciate you sharing this post on your upcoming Writer’s Tips post. Thank you so much.

      1. Oh, I would cringe. The last thing we want is for any of our readers to be offended. And you make a good point about allowing ‘regular’ visitors to comment. One never knows what may slide by. You and me from the school of ‘better safe than sorry’, lol. I have no problem spending a few moments moderating comments. And my readers enjoy your bloggin posts so I imagine some are now becoming your readers. All is right in blogland 🙂 xx

        1. Same here, Debby. I’d rather use up some time moderating all comments that allowing that slim chance of a horrible comment getting left on any of my blog posts.

          And thanks again for sending over some of your readers. Some of them are now also following my blog.

    1. Controversial topics are often the breeding places of many trolls. It’s why I never get involved in any kind of politics on my blog. And I’ve seen firsthand at how internet trolls flock towards those kinds of posts.

      I’m glad this post has been helpful.

      Thank you and best wishes.

  8. I have been blogging since 2011 and have never moderated comments. Deleting them takes a few seconds, but I’ve only done that about three times. In the rare occasion when someone has made a disparaging remark, I’ve left it up so others could see that the reader was being a tool. LOL! I never engage unless I don’t understand what they are saying. I don’t want to take any more time than I have to with my blog. 🙂 It’s in the waaay back of my priorities these days. It wasn’t always like that. 🙂

    If a reader points out a spelling error, then I might delete the comment after correcting it. I always appreciate that! There’s nothing worse than looking back at an old post and seeing ridiculous errors. Using Grammarly has really helped.

    1. After a particularly experience when a nasty comment aimed at another blogger was left on one of my posts, I switched to moderating all comments so that it could never happen again. I was horrified that the comment was left while I slept, and I was not able to delete it until the following morning. By that time, it had been read by lots of people (including the person it was aimed at) and people had contacted me to warn me what had happened. It’s an experience I never wanted to have the chance of happening again

      I wouldn’t encourage anyone to allow any nasty or threatening comments appear on their blog, as it often gives the green light to the troll that they can probably leave more, and encourages them to leave their vile comments elsewhere too. I’ve always recommend that nobody should ever encourage the job of a internet troll. However, as I said to somebody else in the comments, do what works best for you. If you’re happy with the process you have in place, then that’s great.

        1. Yes, only once, but I’ve had a few more rather nasty comments aimed at both other bloggers and me being left. Fortunately, they went into my moderation queue, so none of them made it onto any of the posts. They were sent to spam and then I blocked the people leaving them from being able to leave any further comments. I don’t have any time for people who suddenly decide to change from a friendly reader into a rather sad internet troll. They have no place on my blog.

  9. I remember when you started moderating and discussing the pros and cons. I decided not to but have had to delete some down the years. Like you i don’t engage. I must back up though
    Thanks for the reminder!

  10. I have been always glad for having the first comments under moderation. Thank God, there were not a lot of comments which I had to “spam” subsequently. But I did make use of the blacklist!

  11. Always great reminders and advice on the care and feeding of our blogs, Hugh. I have security software that works across all my devices, which is important since many of us use our phones and tablets to access our WordPress accounts. WP dot com does an excellent job of reducing spam, but as you say, some do get by. A few years back, someone followed my blog but their gravatar or blog’s image was a man’s part, and quite vulgar. I couldn’t stop them from following me, but the image thumbnail sat on my sidebar widget as “recently followed blog.” Luckily it eventually disappeared from the queue!

    1. I believe there is now a way of unsubscribing someone from following your blog, Terri. I’ll have to check it out. Did that person ever leave any comments on any of your posts?

      I’d have probably removed the widget from the widget bar until it disappeared, or reduced the number of blogs on the widget or changed to the widget displaying as a list (the blog name showing as text) rather than showing an image. However, that last option may not be available with all themes. I have that widget too and checked, and it does have the option of showing blogs as a list, although I must admit that I don’t like the way that they display when in the ‘list’ setting.
      It beggars belief why somebody would choose an image like that, but I’ve seen the same thing in the land of social media too.

  12. This is very informative! I’ve fortunately never had to deal with these problems, but I willl keep these in mind for sure! 🙃 Thank you!! And stay safe! 💕💕

    1. I’m glad it’s helped, and I hope you never have to use any of the tips from the post, but now you know where to come if you do encounter any problems.

      Best wishes and stay safe.

    1. I’m glad the title grabbed your attention. It’s so important to have the titles of our blogs posts catchy so that they attract attention and tempt readers to click ‘read more.’ It’s something I learned early on and firmly believe works.

    1. You’re welcome and thank you for reading the post and joining the discussion. I’m glad it’s all helped. I enjoy sharing what I have learned over the last six years since I’ve been blogging.

  13. Well received tips, Hugh. I have all measures in place and it’s working really well. It’s unfortunate that spammers and trolls exist. As a blogger, due diligence is necessary. Thanks for another awesome share. Wishing you a fabulous week ahead. Stay well. 🙂

    1. I had a feeling you’d already have all these steps in place, Natalie. I agree that due diligence is necessary, yet I see so many blogs that have comments on them which are obviously spam. I know that some spam is hard to identify, so that’s why I thought this post would come in useful for readers.

      Have a great week.

  14. 🙂 Hugh, in regards to comments, a blogger can create a “Commenting Policy” page (That has worked out well for me and may have the potential of also working out well for others).

    Do enjoy the rest of your day, sir.

    1. But do your readers read that page before leaving a comment, Renard? Given that I hear so many bloggers say they don’t even have the time to leave a comment, let alone read a blog post in its entirety, I wonder if it would be more noticeable in a reusable block at the end of every blog post? What do you think? I’d be interested in knowing how many would follow a policy on leaving comments. You’re the first blogger I know who has mentioned they have one. However, there may be other bloggers who also have a similar policy which perhaps I’ve not seen or noticed before.

      Glad it’s worked out well for you, though. That’s excellent news. I wonder if an internet troll would take any notice of one? Knowing the kind of creatures they are, probably not.

      1. 🙂 In all honesty, there would be those who would read someone’s “Commenting Policy” before commenting and there would be those people who would ignore it entirely.

        Hugh, the idea of using a reusable block with the intention of receiving quality comments — the type of comments that adds value to the topic that was discussed via a blog post is a wonderful idea.

        Trolls, on the other hand, have one specific job; which is to make the lives of bloggers miserable (Those types of people will ignore the “Comments Policy” page).

        1. Something to think about with regards the reusable block then, Renard? I’m always trying to get readers to leave comments which I can reply to with more than just a ‘thank you.’ I may try out something next week. Watch this space.

  15. Thanks for the link, Hugh. Straightforward spammers are easily deleted. Inappropriate comments also… it is, after all, your blog and you decide what should appear on it. While I have no objection to a rational argument in the comments, I will not permit personal attacks or insults of any kind.
    The troll, however, is an insidious beast and I have known excellent writers close their blogs because of their sheer persistence and nastiness. I have had only one truly nasty encounter in over nine years of blogging. I broke the rules and responded… but not in the way the creature expected 😉 https://wp.me/s1wss8-reaction

    1. You’re welcome, Sue.

      Thanks for the link to the response you sent a troll. Did the troll contact you via a comment, via your contact me page, or was it by email? I’m curious as to what methods they use, although I expect they will use whatever method they can.

      It’s a shame that some writers choose to close their blog because they’ve either got involved in an argument with an internet troll or because they could not cope with the comments the troll was sending. I’ve seen the same thing happen on social media too. In fact, I believe social media is the epicentre of where most internet trolls set up home.

      1. The troll emailed me directly, which gave me their email address. A quick search found the person, and I use the term loosely, was adept at leaving comments from scathing to utterly nasty on a number of blogs. My only response was the anonymous, blanket response that I published. Having spammed their email, I never heard from them again.

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