What the hack is going on?

Yesterday I woke up to a surprise when I clicked over to my website.  Instead of my familiar home page (with my nice new book trailer; hope you enjoyed it), there was a strange black page with red type proclaiming proudly that my page/site/server had been hacked.

Actually, that was the only line I understood, as the rest of the page was in an unfamiliar language.  Based on some checking around, it was an Eastern European dialect (I later found out there was “sound” to the page, in a language I associated mostly with cold war spy pictures, but obviously I’m no linguist).  This led me to the frightening thought that I was somehow at fault for the break-in.

I’ve mentioned my endless amount of spam that hits my website; surprising for a website as small as mine.  Most of the servers, when traced back (yes, you can do that now) tend to originate in some Eastern European location.  Perhaps this is nothing more than specialization.  Germany for performance cars, China for inexpensive mass merchandise, Eastern Europe for spam.

Whatever the conditions, the situation seemed too coincidental to be accidental.  I immediately fired off an email to my web host and then placed a call.  It was Sunday morning, but they do claim 24/7 support.  I will say that it was well before I was finished with 23 consecutive busy signals that I guessed the problem was just a little larger than my one fledgling site.

Indeed, it turned out to be a mass security breach into core files on the server through an apparent hole in an application.  Throughout the course of the day, the company restored sites via their saved backups and, by bits and pieces, my site came back to life sometime late in the day.

The most peculiar and vexing part of the whole imbroglio was that there appeared to be no intent other than vandalism in the attack.  No information was attempted to be stolen or manipulated.  The sum total of the intrusion seemed to be nothing more than replacing websites with a page that said they were hacked; the electronic equivalent of someone saying “Nah Nah na-Nah Nah”.

That just boggles my mind.  Sure I felt angry and violated by the intrusion, but more than anything else I just felt perplexed.  What personal enrichment does someone get by doing that?

Fortunately, my web host was on the ball and extremely efficient.  By the end of the day I was only mildly annoyed (as much from a pitiful performance from my hometown football team as the security breach).

But I do have a new appreciation of the term “hacked off”.

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