Fourth of July Fizzle

We all hear stories of people who get robbed while on vacation. Such tales drive us to buy and install home security systems. But what about our online property?

My site host took this site offline the morning of the Fourth of July. I came down to check email and found one from the hosting firm saying that scripts, small blocks of code that run a command, on my site were destabilizing the entire server they use to host people.

First, since I don’t do much with this site, I thought of an old PC sitting in a closet somewhere and wondered what exactly my host was using for hardware (Dell systems are on its Web site). Then, since my knowledge of scripts runs towards the stage, not the server, I pinged my Webmaster in California and said ‘help!’

He fixed the immediate problem, removing the script the host identified. Then he went off to have a holiday. My host refused to put the site back up online, telling me there was a good chance my passwords had been pilfered if my entire site had not been compromised, and they were not going to risk a repeat of whatever event was plaguing their server until I had gone through a security check list this morning. I emailed it to my Webmaster and went to have a holiday of my own.

The site spent the weekend on a holiday of its own. This morning, as I was sending emails to people I hoped to interview, I realized that my site was still on holiday, and if they wanted to check out my brilliant prose, they couldn’t. So I called my California-based webmaster at a reasonable hour (about 8:15). It took 40 minutes of billable time, but we went through the checklist and took care of everything we could.

The only thing we can’t control is WordPress, which for my site is handled through my host. Given other problems I’ve had, I suspect there is a flaw in what they’ve done with WordPress. Perhaps not, and we’ll have no more holidays.

If you’ve read this far, go change any important passwords you have. A mix of numbers, punctuation and upper- and lower-case letters works well.
I wonder if people will start to offer insurance and alarm systems for individual Web sites, like mine.

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