Saturday, March 15, 2014

Hacked! Keeping Calm and Seeing Opportunity

There are no nice words to describe the emotions when a website is hacked. It's similar to when someone illegally uses my credit card. At first I'm very angry and wish I could see Karma kick that individual in the butt immediately. (That wish is yet to be granted.) Then I get on the phone and start the clean up, hoping I can add more security so that it doesn't happen again.

I had been away for five days at a needed writing retreat. This is when I go away from my home to a place without Internet access and do nothing but write day and night.  Okay, I do eat and take a walk too, but you get the picture. It is pure heaven to be able to focus so intensely for a period of time.

The next morning, after my return, my first email is from a friend saying: "Did you know your website has gibberish all over it? Is it Polish, Russian? Did you learn a new language?" I was hacked! Someone had not only changed the front page, but had managed to get admin access and added lots of not-so-wonderful posts and links to all kinds of places that I would never send my readers to.

After getting over those initial desires for pain to be visited upon the individual(s) who were going to impact the rest of the week for me, I decided to look at it as an opportunity to learn more about security protection and to do something I'd been putting off--rebranding.

My website host, Startlogic, has been amazing throughout this ordeal. They helped me salvage what I could from the database and purge it, and they pointed me to some security options I hadn't considered previously. I've been with them for 10 years and have always been impressed with their customer support. Only once in the past decade have they not fixed my problem during the phone call. Truly amazing.

So, my website is back up and working. It has new branding and I decided to take advantage of a couple more fun plugins to provide more information to readers.  If you have time to take a look I'd really appreciate your feedback. For those who know me and my books well, I'd love to know if you think the new branding fits.


Collette Cameron said...

It never occurred to me that a website could be hacked, Maggie. I'm glad you got things up and running again. Makes me want to contact my webmistress and double check mine.

Terri Patrick said...

Ouch! I clicked to your website and the navigation bar seems stuck and blanks out text when scrolling.

Jessa Slade said...

You are such an inspiration, turning hacking into an opportunity. My inner Eeyore feels mildly optimistic :)

Maggie Jaimeson said...

Thanks everyone for your sympathies. Collette, you definitely do want to see what type of security you have. The hackers really love sites that are database driven (joomla, wordpress, expression engine, etc.) because once they get in they can embed all kinds of little links and references to their not-so-wonderful sites.

I switched from Joomla to WordPress because WordPress has some nice security elements already that are free or low cost. I also paid for SiteLock on all my files in both my Author pages and Windtree. This is a $60 per year, per domain payment but it is worth it to get alerts, restores, tracking, etc.

Terri, I don't have that experience on the page. Please let me know what browser you are using and the device you visit the site on so I can do some testing.

LOL, Jessa. In church yesterday, our minister talked about the Irish being an optimistic people in spite of all the heartache they experienced during the great migration in the late 1800's.

I believe that the optimistic path will open your eyes to learning opportunities, whereas the pessimistic path closes all doors and creates isolation. I'm much happier as an optimist. That's not to say I'm a saint. I still get angry. I still think bad thoughts about what should happen to people who do bad things. I know I work out those bad thoughts in my fiction by killing people off or hurting them in some horrible way. But as a whole, my daily life is pretty optimistic.