Authors often have to contend with deadlines, book promotions and social media campaigns in order to draw attention to their latest novel. Whether you are traditionally or self-published the process is more or less the same. Websites are critical to an author, not only does it promote your back catalog of content, but it serves as a nexus point for your online identity. Some authors though have to be wary, the more popular you become, the more you have to start considering web security.
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver recently had his website hacked. Malicious code was installed on it and sought to exploit vulnerabilities in users’ systems and install malware. The script would direct unsuspecting users to a WordPress site that hosted yet more malicious code. That would then run an exploit kit that would seek to find vulnerabilities in any user’s system and install software called Dorkbot.
This particular code would replace a users default search engine on whatever browser they had installed on their computers. Whenever a search was engaged the hackers would earn affiliate fees, making it a very lucrative business.
A spokesman for Jamie Oliver confirmed that existing code on the site was modified by a hacker, but said the website team was still trying to work out when that had happened. In the meantime the problem has been remedied and the site is now safe to use.
The only reason the website security team managed to solve the problem in a few days is because at least ten users wrote and let them know about it. How many authors might have malicious code installed on their website or blog and not even know about it? New authors who have only self-published a few titles could quickly find themselves in a heap of trouble with their fledgling base of readers, if it came out their websites hacked the readers computers. Say Joe Author had a website that was compromised and a reader might assume the Author is a scam or a shill for a hacker group. It could be considered the kiss of death to the authors credibility.
Self-published authors often have to be a jack of all trades. Not only do they have to write the book, but have to play the part of promoter, social media ambassador, organizer of virtual blog tours and website designer. Do authors really have to add security specialist to their resume as well? It looks like there is a coordinated effort underway right now to target famous authors, but indie authors could be next and they are woefully unprepared to deal with this issue.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.