Back from the Brink

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If you are a regular reader of my little ol’ blog, you may have noticed that it has been quiet here for a few weeks. This silence came right in the middle of my California adventure recap, possibly making it more noticeable. The lack of activity is not without reason.

My blog was hacked  🙁  And after that drama, I needed a little break.

Here’s the abbreviated version of the story:

  • On August 19th, I received an email from my web hosting company telling me that my email services through them (that I don’t use, thankfully) had been shut down due to questionable activity, aka spam. When I contacted them about it, they indicated that a virus had probably attacked my website somewhere and that is how my website became a spamming machine.
  • On the evening of August 20th, I sat down to write the next post in my California vacation recap. As I went to grab the link to another one of my posts, I discovered that my posts were gone and each link was being directed to an unusual – but thankfully benign – website. I checked the links to several posts and to several pages – they all did the same thing. Not good  😐
  • Another call to my hosting company indicated that it was likely that the “theme” I was using for my site had a weakness (for those not in the know, the theme is the basic design of the site). While I always follow through with updates in my WordPress admin panel, I often fail to check for updates on the “backside” of my website (i.e. through the control panel of my hosting service). I had missed an update on that end, making my site that much more vulnerable.
  • I was able to save back-ups of my site from before the hack occurred. While I would lose three of my most recent posts, I wouldn’t lose all 220 others from the last couple of years. 3 is much better than 220.
  • I spent the next day schooling myself in website revival. Thanks to my buddy Kyle for getting me over one roadblock, I was able to get things back in (relative) order within 24 hours of the initial disaster.

The first tip I read from multiple sources for how to deal with a website hack was to remain calm. I’m not going to lie – I did not remain calm. I broke down, I cried, I got irrationally angry. Calm and me don’t often seem to mesh.

Bless my husband and my two dogs for putting up with me. I know it’s not easy.

The worst part of the whole situation was the feeling of total helplessness. I very quickly realized that I know jack about websites. It was a very humbling experience (even though I’m pretty humble to begin with).

In the midst of my meltdown, I hit the point of wanting to quit. This was when Jason, my voice of reason, stepped in. He pointed out that things could be fixed (somehow) and that my level of distress clearly indicated that I enjoyed my blog too much to let it go.

While it sucks that it happened the hard way, I did learn a couple of valuable lessons during this ordeal:

  • Back Up, Back Up, BACK UP!! I don’t care how insignificant you thing your website might be, BACK IT UP!
  • Make sure you have some form of tech support. I did not (other bloggers hit by the exact same virus did). I now know a few people who can help me should anything like this happen again.

If you are viewing this post on my website, you will notice a different look. The design of my blog will be a work-in-progress for awhile, but I had been wanting a change anyway. If you are reading this through a feed reader, you will notice several seemingly duplicate posts. Those are the posts that I “lost” in the process of getting my site cleaned up. (Luckily, I was able to copy the posts before I wiped my site clean, so re-posting was a painless cut and paste process.)

I just want to thank those of you who have been so supportive of my blogging. I have some amazing family and friends who love what I’m doing, and that means the world to me. And I also want to thank my loyal readers who I might not “personally” know. Your comments, emails, and simple presence have brought great joy to my life.

When I put everything into perspective, it’s not hard to see why this blog means so much to me. I’m eager to bounce back and take this little project of mine as far as I can…

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8 thoughts on “Back from the Brink

  1. Josh Turner

    That sucks!!!! We’ve had this happen before, where somehow our site got hacked and then any time somebody visited it, the site tried to install a virus. Not good at all. I feel your pain.

    Josh

    Reply
    1. Laura Post author

      Thank you, Nancy, for being such a great supporter! It means a lot to know that you enjoy my blog – Makes my day every time I hear it 🙂

      Reply
  2. iris

    The “Back up Back up Back up” policy also goes for your computer files. If you don’t already have an external harddrive to back up your Documents & Photos, you might be a very silly person.

    Reply
    1. Laura Post author

      I’m all good there 🙂 When we bought our new computer this winter, there was no way I was leaving without an external hard drive, too. I have Time Machine set up on my Mac, so my files are backed up daily. Great peace of mind.

      Reply

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