There I was. Just minding my own business. Blogging occasionally as I felt the need to get something off my chest or just attempt to be funny. Life was good. Life was carefree. And the Internet was my friend.
Then I got a Facebook message from a friend who alerted me to possible spam in my blogs. I went online and took a look. There was nothing on this page that looked out of the ordinary. I took a look under the hood to see if I could find anything suspicious.
(I was quite naive then…)
She sent me a screenshot of what she was seeing. It was obvious something was there. I explained that the problem might be a Chrome extension on her computer that was causing this to happen. She just sort of shrugged her shoulders, apologized for bothering me, and that was that.
A couple of weeks later I got the same message from another friend. She was seeing the same thing. Only this time she said it was showing up in Feedly. Feedly is an RSS feed reader I use daily. I went to my own blog in Feedly (who reads his own blog, right?). Sure enough, there was the problem. It was real.
To make a long, and painfully expensive, story short. I contacted my web hosting service and asked them to take a look. They assured me that, yes, there was malware installed on my site. I had 3 days to remove it or they would take my site down until it was cleaned.
I contacted SiteLock, the company that partners with my web hosting firm, Netfirms. I paid the money to have 100 pages looked at. Out of 100 pages, 97 of them had this malicious code installed. I had no choice. I paid more money to have my entire site cleaned and guarded.
I was paying about $10 a month to host my site (along with the sites of a few others at no extra charge). I shut all the other sites down. I now pay the $10 a month to host my site, and I pay an additional $90 a month to keep it safe. I have no idea how long I can continue with that. I may have to rethink the entire thing before its over.
You can see from the graphic that 96% of the traffic coming to my site is bots trying to find a vulnerability to exploit. Over 5,000 attempts to reinsert themselves into my site have been blocked in just one week.
And this is happening over and over and over and over again throughout the web.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m going to keep blogging. I’m staying online. The web is the future of my own vocation.
Now, in addition to the age-old cautions of look both ways before you cross the street and never talk to strangers, we have an entire new list. Be alert. Be vigilant. Check your email. Don’t click links you don’t know about. Don’t respond to friend requests from people you don’t know. Set strong passwords. Change your passwords often. Don’t use the same password everywhere. The list goes on and on…
But the web is a nasty place at times. Acknowledgement is the first step in solving the problem.