When I tried to open this blog and my two other websites this past weekend, I was horrified to discover that a hacker had invaded and taken over all three. Instead of seeing my home page, a giant phoenix-like character with folded wings on a black background appeared, complete with music and a blinking message in all caps: ACCESS DENIED. Whoever the culprit was, he/she was displaying obvious pride and glee over this computer coup.
Talk about feeling like a vulnerable victim. It was as if someone had changed the locks on my home and I had no idea if the contents of my house still existed. I couldn’t imagine trying to recreate all of the data and images on my sites.
Since my mind too often searches for cause-and-effect connections, I wondered if this was a retaliation for my criticism of a recent youth-activist film. Ironically, a computer consultant had just installed Spybot Search and Destroy software (I love that name) and beefed up my online security.
I immediately notified the woman who set up my sites, who then informed my web server. She responded with “Holy cow!! I’ve never seen such a blatant attack before!” It turns out that this cyber-hoodlum had hacked in at the server level, and affected a number of other sites using the same server. At least I don’t depend on my sites for mail-order businesses and the like.
Thankfully, the web server remedied the situation the next morning and all of my site content was restored. No blog posts were missing and nothing in my writing had been tampered with. What a relief.
Beware of online menaces. Make sure that your web server has filled any potential gaps at the server level. Keep as much protective security on your site as possible. Such incidents are unwanted reminders of how dependent we are on technology and how every communication medium has its great benefits — and malevolence.