Regular visitors have probably noticed some major changes to the DGS site recently. Those of you who tried to access it in early June know that it wasn’t there at all for a week or so.
We were hacked.
What does it mean to be hacked? Simply put, it means that somebody launched some malicious software that looked for sites that had vulnerabilities that they could exploit. In our case (and in many other cases around the country) they were able to gain access to our files and delete them. They also installed some programs of their own that made restoration even more difficult.
The only fool-proof restoration method was to have our internet service provider completely delete absolutely everything in the affected storage area and start over. Normally, starting over would mean doing some preliminary things and then restoring everything from known good backups. Only in our case there were no backups.
Long awkward silence…
As the webmaster, the responsibility was entirely mine. I had been in this position for 4 months, and ‘Understand the Backup Scheme’ has been near the top of my to do list for quite awhile. Coming from a corporate environment, I assumed that our Internet Service Provider was performing backups and that in a worst case scenario like this I could rely on that.
Much to my dismay I discovered that the level of service provided for the $8 a month we are paying was not quite on par with what my Fortune 25 corporation provides. And so, the morning after returning from a two week vacation in Europe, I began re-building the site from the ground up.
In my case, rebuilding entailed trying to first understand how and why we were so vulnerable to begin with. I learned a lot, and sincerely hope that the additional security steps I have taken will make us less vulnerable to the next attack.
There has been a small silver lining to this very black cloud… I do now ‘Understand the Backup Scheme’. And starting over has provided me with the opportunity to make some changes to the ‘look and feel’ of the site. These changes were not made for the sake of change alone… I sincerely hope that you will agree that the new site is easier to navigate and use.
What do you think? Leave a reply… I’ll summarize the feedback in a future post.