11 June 2016
Late on Thursday night when I tried to proofread the blog post that was due to be published the next day I couldn’t get onto the blog. There was a just a weird message I didn’t understand. Straight away I checked the LCN site to make sure it wasn’t an issue with their servers or whatnot. It wasn’t. Then I tired to view the blog throug an old Facebook link. The same message came up. Going through Google brought the same results. A shard of ice stabbed at my heart and one word screamed in my head, HACKERS!
Back in October 2014 I discovered my blog had been hacked, not this blog but the one that came before it. It was a devastating blow, two years of my work, my photographs and words, were gone forever. Hacking was never something I’d envisaged, after all my blog was not a business, it was just my ramblings about losing weight, walking, life the universe and everything, there was no money involved, nothing to steal. It didn’t seem the sort of thing hackers would be interested in and, to this day, I have no idea why my little blog was targeted.
There were days of worry and lots of sleepless nights. With the help of the wonderful people at LCN I was able to salvage most of the photographs and words but not the blog itself. The hackers had randomly chosen my site and hijacked it to send thousands, maybe millions, of scam emails. The data LCN had been able to recover was too corrupted by their malicious code to salvage. They’d killed Fatgirlslimblog, my old blog, but, eventually, from the ashes, this blog was born.
Of course all this was on my mind as I went to bed on Thursday night and I didn’t get a great deal of sleep. What if this blog had been hacked? There were backups of course, that much had been learned, but would I start again for a third time or would it be the final nail in the coffin of blogging for me?
The first thing I did on Friday morning was phone LCN, who host my domain. As usual the lovely lady there was calm and helpful, unlike me.
“It looks like a plugin hasn’t updated properly,” she said. “I can fix that right now from here if you like?”
Within minutes order was restored and the shard of ice in my heart slowly began to thaw. Even so it left me feeling shaky and uneasy. Life can change in a moment.
When Panda called for a chat that evening I told her all about my hacking scare.
“My Cousin Aleks has just started a business called Interwebdefence to protect and repair WordPress websites. I was only telling him about the time your blog was hacked the other day.”
With my paranoia levels set at Defcon three, or maybe two, it all sounded like a good idea. Panda put me in touch with Aleks and, after chatting to him on line, I signed up. It was reassuring to know his Internet experience went back to the days of APRnet, before the World Wide Web we know, love and shop on today, had even been unleashed on the general public. Here was a techy person who knew exactly what he was doing and could back up my blog on a secure server, keep spammers and hackers at bay and fix anything that somehow got broken. He sounded like a burglar alarm, guard dog and handyman all rolled into one.
A little later he’d used special industry standard checks and tools to confirm my site was free of bugs and nasties at the moment. That was reassuring, in fact the whole thing was reassuring. Now I could relax and stop worrying, maybe even get a proper night’s sleep.
This time the problem wasn’t hackers, but it could easily have been. The moral of this tale is, if you have a blog, especially if it’s part of a business and your livelihood is at stake, don’t just trust that everything will be alright. The hackers are out there, lurking in the darkness waiting. If you become their victim all your hard work could disappear in a puff of smoke. This is not a scare story, it’s real life, it happens every single day to ordinary people like me. Check out the link for more information about Interwebdefence and get protected!
If you want a taste of what it was like to be hacked, read the full story, with all the horror and uncertainty in the first few posts on this blog. They make scary reading. Post one, Crash and Burn. Post two, Boulevard of Broken Dreams. Post three, Phoenix Rising From the Ashes. Whatever you do, don’t let it happen to you!
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