At some point in the last couple of months this site got pretty thoroughly compromised by a group of jackasses peddling counterfeit handbags. I don’t know a huge amount about these things, but the basic scheme seems to have been to hijack this site’s Google search results, both by redirecting searchers to their sites and by setting up heaps of links between my site and theirs, thus piggybacking on my site’s reputation. I’ve been vaguely aware that something not quite kosher was going on for the last several weeks, but I kept thinking to deal with the problem by just swatting down the symptoms — deleting strange files that showed up in my site directories, removing a pile of links that appeared on one of my WordPress theme pages, etc. — rather than rolling up my sleeves and properly scrubbing everything clean. Very, very stupid, I know.
After my very sweet mother-in-law called for the second time this week to tell us that when she clicked my name in Google she got handbags, I decided enough was enough. During the last couple of days I’ve rebuilt the site from scratch, and hardened everything in the process. I also learned a lot about how the bad guys operate, enough to make me wonder if they wouldn’t do better applying all that ingenuity to actually, you know, building a legitimate site like this one that people don’t have to be tricked into visiting. But anyway, I very much believe everything should be fixed now. I still don’t know the original source of the infection, but I believe it must have originated with my hosting provider, who have, alas, been having a bit of a problem with security lately.
I want to emphasize that the database itself was never compromised; your email addresses are all secure. Nor did they install anything that could harm visitors’ computers. You may see some slight weirdness with RSS feeds and the like for a few days while everything settles down, and I expect my site will have an odd association with handbags in Google for another week or two, but then hopefully all will be back to normal. I look forward to spending my time making content instead of farting around with WordPress. I think I’m going to have nightmares for a while about that damn handbag site that seemed to pop up every time I clicked a link…
P.S. If you came here looking to buy a handbag, you’re in the wrong place. We’re just a bunch of un-fashion-conscious nerds around these parts. But I would strongly recommend that you avoid buying from “Purse Vally” or any of the myriad other sites with similarly slightly misspelled names.
June 20, 2012 at 6:11 pm
Man, just when I was looking for a handbag of holding, too!
June 22, 2012 at 3:15 am
Join the crowd. Our server got whacked too but we went so far as to remove everything, turn off the old server and build a new one by hand. It sucked and took a lot of time. Still arent really done but then it just sucks that so many people are just looking to be destructive.
Glad to see you back.
June 25, 2012 at 3:51 am
So is that why suddenly I can’t redownload King of Shreds and Patches from your site?
I was almost done, when my hard drive fried :(
June 25, 2012 at 11:27 am
Woops, sorry about that. It’s out there again now.
If you guys find any other problems like that, just let me know.
June 25, 2012 at 5:53 pm
I wanto to say something offtopic about this post. Just I love your site, and enjoy a lot what you are doing. I don’t reply more times, because I download the feed directly to my Kindle, so… thanks for all this interesting readings.