Hacked!

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!

Prevention

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.

Security

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.

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29 Responses to Hacked!

  1. Jamie November 5, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

    Wow, that’s terrible that you were hacked! I’m glad to see the site is back to normal, as I love your patterns!

  2. Ellie November 5, 2011 at 5:01 pm #

    Oh Tasia, sorry to hear about you getting hacked – what a-holes! Thanks goodness for Mr Sewaholic!! I would do the same as you – panic like crazy! I’m glad everything is back to normal now!! Thanks for the tips.

  3. Maureen November 5, 2011 at 5:05 pm #

    URGH!!!! I don’t even have a website and I was hacked. It was a major pain in the you-know-where. I understand the frustration and panic – and I didn’t have anything at stake! I’m so glad that everything is back to normal for you. Hugs, hugs and more hugs to you and your wonderful computer expert.

  4. Tanit-Isis November 5, 2011 at 5:13 pm #

    Ugh, how horrific! SO glad you were able to get everything back up so quickly. SO UNFUN! POOPY HACKERS!

    • Tasia November 5, 2011 at 5:14 pm #

      Ha, poopy hackers. that made me laugh, thank you!

  5. Tasia November 5, 2011 at 5:13 pm #

    Thank you guys! I was SO mad. So angry!! Seriously, why hack a nice sewing blog? I was panicked, just freaking out! Thank god we caught it right away!

    Yeah, back-ups are SO important. Maureen, I’m sorry it happened to you!

  6. Marie November 5, 2011 at 5:27 pm #

    What an awful way to start any day! I’m not surprised at all that you panicked, just the thought of all your hard work vanishing makes me shudder! I’m so glad your lovely site is back up and running and thank you for all the preventative tips and advice you’ve shared!

  7. Bri November 5, 2011 at 5:45 pm #

    Okay, I have no idea how to back up my blog but I’m definitely going to figure it out now, wow this has scared the crap out me!

    Thank you for sharing your experience and putting a positive spin on it, I’m thankful for the information!

  8. Stefanie November 5, 2011 at 5:50 pm #

    ohmygosh that is brutal!! i can’t imagine the panic you must have felt when you first saw your site…. glad that everything turned out!!!

  9. Seraphinalina November 5, 2011 at 5:55 pm #

    Angry is a perfectly understandable response, they just stomped over something very personal to you. I’m glad you have it all sorted out, thanks for the post. It is sad to have to learn from your experience, but it is empowering to share what you know.

  10. Dei November 5, 2011 at 7:51 pm #

    Ugh. I feel your pain. My site was just hacked a few ago and it was a pain to get it up again. Your list of tips is excellent. Glad you’re back online.

  11. Becky November 5, 2011 at 8:21 pm #

    I can definitely relate on some level– my Facebook account got hacked last year. Fortunately, I was able to find out pretty quickly, because a good friend of mine was a co-worker at the time, and another mutual friend called her to make sure I was ok, since the hacker was apparently telling everyone that I’d been mugged in London and needed cash. (I was standing about 20 feet away from her.) In the end, after FB put my account on lockdown, I ended up having to get an entirely new account. I wouldn’t have cared, except a couple years’ worth of pictures got lost–I still had all of the ones I’d posted myself, but all of the things I hadn’t that friends tagged me in never did get linked back to my new account. I still feel kind of violated when I think of it.

    One other recommendation I would give is to change the passwords to any accounts you have that might possibly be linked to the hacked one– PayPal, email, etc. Just to be on the safe side. I’m glad you were able to restore everything and get it up and running again quickly.

    • Holly November 5, 2011 at 11:10 pm #

      Oh the same exact facebook hack happened to me, I was supposedly mugged in London and needed money when I was actually at work. A friend of mine in Austria almost sent money and then thankfully realized it wasn’t me in time, I was mortified, it had asked so many of my friends for money. I was able to get back into my account and apologize to everyone but I was so angry. That was just a few months ago! I feel your pain Tasia, it sucked!! You are not alone.

  12. Lucy November 5, 2011 at 9:02 pm #

    Thank gods you spotted it before the damage was done – I’m about to make my first Pendrell under a massive time crunch (less than 48 hours) and those hackers would have something to worry about if I didn’t have access to the sewalong posts!

    Seriously, who gets their jollies from wrecking someone else’s hard work? They need a hobby, stat!

  13. alice November 5, 2011 at 10:02 pm #

    i’m glad everything is okay, and i thought the same thing. who hacks a *sewing blog*!?
    (not that, you know, having clothes on our backs isn’t important).
    p.s. i was at a thrift store downtown (wildlife thrift @ granville/drake) and saw a few nice looking vintage machines for ~$50 each. I’m particularly coveting an early 80s Kenmore as a spare, but my Mr. thinks it’s a bit wasteful since I’ve just bought a machine. One of them might be good for Jen to start on…

  14. Katy November 6, 2011 at 1:04 am #

    No problem Tasia. So glad you got my email straightaway. I thought it was my computer at first as I’ve never seen this sort of thing before! I was angry for you to see that horrible, intimidating image instead of the lovely site that you’ve worked so hard on. Is there a cyber crime police unit you can report this to? This sort of thing should be taken seriously by the police.

  15. Vicki Kate November 6, 2011 at 2:53 am #

    I’m glad you were able to sort everything and seriously – why hack a a sewing blog?! And more to the point a self-employed, independent pattern design blog! It’s hardly hitting back at the establishment which seems to be the common excuse. I hope the Karma comes back to whoever did it.
    And hurrah for Mr Sewaholic for managing to make you laugh in the middle of what I’m sure was a ‘through the ceiling’ moment for you.

  16. Linda L November 6, 2011 at 5:05 am #

    I hate that this happened to you. Very annoying situation and one that would make most anyone very angry. Glad you were able to remedy the situation and thank you for your helpful tips.

  17. Anna | Mormor hade stil November 6, 2011 at 6:05 am #

    So glad everything is back up and running!

  18. CGCouture November 6, 2011 at 6:55 am #

    Ugh! How crappy! Glad you got it all sorted out though, hopefully, it won’t happen again.

  19. Brandy Layton November 6, 2011 at 7:18 am #

    What a crappy way to begin the weekend. Thank you so much for this information, as it is a great reminder to all of us to be careful. I have friends in networking and that is the biggest thing they say…and to why because they can…I am glad you are back and try to enjoy the rest of your weekend!
    Bran

  20. Debi November 6, 2011 at 8:33 am #

    Wow! This is so scary!!! Thanks for sharing some tips with us!!

  21. wundermary November 6, 2011 at 8:59 am #

    So sorry to hear this happened; so glad you were able to recover quickly. Unfortunately, there are a lot of jerks out there and the distance the internet provides emboldens people who would never confront anyone, personally. It’s a special low level, anti-social jerk. Clearly, they need to quit hacking and take up a much healthier hobby, like sewing :)

  22. Corinne November 6, 2011 at 9:01 am #

    Never be too careful, I am fortunate to have IT people who live here and keep reminding me. Son just installed a professional 500 character encryption program for me.Overkill? probably, but Tasia is correct. The world is full of pathetic creatures, probably sitting in their Mother’s basement, in dirty underwear, un-bathed for a week, eating junk food and pretending to be a real person. Sad but true. Remember to update your browsers, the patches they provide close up those “holes” in the programming that let the little creeps in. OK, I’ll stop. So sorry this happened but it certainly serves as a timely reminder for the rest of us.

    • Maureen November 6, 2011 at 4:02 pm #

      Hi Corinne,
      Thank you for the belly laugh!!! the image brings to mind Golum in ‘The Lord of the Rings”.

  23. Lauren M November 6, 2011 at 6:00 pm #

    Hi Tasia,

    I nearly spit out my coffee Saturday morning when I came across the ugly hooded hacking/music on your site. I felt so bad for you but I didn’t realize your e-mail worked as I thought it was all channeled through the site. Now I know….I’ll e-mail next time! I was so relieved to see your lovely site back up a few hours later. Yeah for Mr. Sewaholic!

  24. Elena Cresci November 7, 2011 at 2:58 am #

    Oh my god, this is rubbish! I didn’t see your site when it was hacked, but I’m glad it’s all been resolved. Thanks for all the handy tips as well – why on earth would someone want to hack a sewing website though?

  25. Amelia November 7, 2011 at 8:55 am #

    Why do people do this? I mean really, do they not have anything better to do? Can they not find a more productive use of their time than ruining other peoples’ hard work? The sad thing is that whoever this hacker is, they are only hacking as an end in itself. It isn’t like he/she is going to get anything out of hacking a sewing website other than the pleasure of hacking and creating a mess for someone else to deal with, how pathetic. They’re just jealous of your awesomeness and all they can do is try and tear it down. But they didn’t, I’m glad your back up and running Tasia.

  26. ladykatza November 12, 2011 at 8:09 pm #

    Tasia, I am so sorry that you were targeted for the amusement of script kiddies. I know its real sh*tty to have it happen to you.

    However, your rant sort of made me upset. Largely because I have worked in the IT business for a very long time and there the real name for people that do stuff like they did to you is “script kiddies”.

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=script+kiddies

    REAL ‘hackers’ do things like crack the nuclear software Iran is using to thwart their nuclear program.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2011/01/16/israel-iran-nuclear.html

    REAL ‘hackers’ also are employed by all manners of gov’t and businesses to help keep our stuff safe. Or they facilitate in making sure the public knows truth about what our gov’ts are really doing (like WikiLeaks, though that is a very controversial topic. Many believe it led to the Arab Spring. Others think it was treasonous. Either way, people know things about governmental abuses they wouldn’t have otherwise).

    So, yeah. What happened sucked and there’s no excuse for it, but like any other group of people, please don’t make assumptions of all of them based on the sub-group. Script Kiddies need spankings.

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