If you were here earlier Saturday morning, you might have been surprised to see an ugly, evil hooded man on a black background where Sewaholic used to be. No blog, just a creepy looking guy. Not a great way to start the weekend! Wow, was I terrified. Years of work, all potentially gone! All my readers wondering what happened to the site, and no way to tell them!
I wanted to include an image in this post like always but I just felt so angry after google-image-searching ‘hacked.’ Do it, and you’ll get an idea of what my poor website looked like! The images are really upsetting. Imagine going to your own blog and seeing a creepy hooded dude? It’s such a frustrating, angry feeling.
So I won’t give them the satisfaction of having the hacked image up here. And I thought I’d answer some questions, give you some prevention tips and let you know what to do if this ever happens to you!
If you get hacked:
Call your hosting company immediately! One, they need to know there is a problem that could possibly affect their system. And two, they may be able to stop the creep from wrecking things, and put your site back to normal. They keep backups of your site (if they’re been doing them regularly) and can often restore the whole thing.
If you have a computer person in your life, call them! I freaked out and instantly enlisted Mr Sewaholic’s help. I was lucky he was home and not rushing off anywhere! He was awesome, the only time he laughed was when I was mad that they made my site play music. I hate sites that play music! And for some reason, that made him laugh. which made me laugh. And then it wasn’t so terrible, and I knew we’d find a way to put it all back together again.
Try to get into the admin side of your site and export a backup file. Try to copy and paste any posts that still work. As the site was disappearing (first it was just gone when I checked my phone but showed up for Mr Sewaholic, then page by page the links stopped working) we tried to copy and paste some of the blog material into emails so I wouldn’t have to remember what I wrote.
Try not to panic! Ok, I panicked. I totally panicked. This is terrible advice for me to try and give you. All I could think of was all of that work gone. All of those lovely comments gone and all of those hours spent replying, gone all gone! And I was mad. Who hacks a sewing blog? On a Saturday morning? Serious jerks, that’s who.
If you see a site that’s hacked, and you have a way of contacting the owner, do it! I am incredibly lucky to have readers in different time zones. I got an email literally two minutes after I was hacked, from a reader who couldn’t access the site! Thank you Katy and everyone else who emailed me. It’s better to get twenty emails than none at all! If you see an ugly hooded man where your favourite site used to be, try to let them know! Social media is great if you don’t have their email address. Try their Facebook or Twitter pages. It worked out well that I’d just sent out the pre-sale emails this week, so many of you had my contact information!
You’re never too busy to back up. Honestly. That wasn’t why I got hacked, but it’s why I was so panicked when it did! I knew my backups weren’t completely up-to-date. It’s been a crazy week here, but that’s no excuse, look what happened! I’m never too busy to back up now. This is my life up here. Back up, back up, back up!
Use strong passwords. Include letters, numbers, characters like !$&@ and a capital letter. The more of these you use, the stronger your password is! We’re no longer living in the days of normal one-word passwords. Mine were strong so this wasn’t the problem, but it’s a good reminder!
Keep your version of wordpress and all plugins up to date. If your hosting account includes more than one blog, make sure they are ALL up to date. My very basic understanding is that if your stuff isn’t up to date, this can create holes for hackers to get in. Like updating your antivirus keeps new viruses from coming in.
Make backing up easier with automatic backups. I used to have a WordPress plug-in that would back up my files every day and email them to me. So even if I was too busy, the backups were getting done. It’s a good idea to have multiple back-ups, just in case one of them fails! This is a good secondary backup system.
I’m by no means a computer expert, but these are all easy things you can do to help protect your site.
Another question that came up was the issue of security. If you’ve placed an order, or pre-ordered the Minoru Jacket, your information is safe. No credit card information is ever collected or stored on the site. All transactions occur in PayPal and are safe and secure. There’s no way that hackers would have access to credit cards from my site. You’re safe!
Hacking sucks, but it happens. There’s no reason as to why hackers pick certain sites. They’re just looking for something to wreck. The best thing you can do is keep your work backed-up frequently, use strong passwords, and keep your version of WordPress and all its plug-ins up-to-date.
I hope this never happens to any of you! Have a good weekend and I’ll be back on Monday.