While I was up in Atlanta, working at a convention, I received an email from an SEO marketer. What I thought was a promotional message to buy their services, it actually was one that put my life – and business – in a tailspin.
Seems that while this company was doing their ‘research,’ they googled my business name and found that my site was being redirected to a pharmacy. I did some research on my own (I’ve become quite the detective) and called my hosting site, but they did not know what was going on. Thank the stars for having good networking contacts, as I called one who specializes in this area which, to my dismay, had verified that my website had been encrypted with codes to redirect; the other bad news was that the hacker was able to get the code to ‘jump’ to another site on the server, which was a website that had been developed (but never published).
Trying to remain calm during the time I was away was a challenge but I knew my contact knew ‘his stuff.’ The good news was that that my ‘pro’ was able to get the bad code off; the bad news was that this person, who he was able to determine came from Russia, was relentless and kept trying to access my sites. This continued for more days, even after I returned home.
I found myself becoming more upset and feeling demoralized – why was this person targeting me? I’ve not found any real answer – is there one? – but have heard: the site was vulnerable, the site got traffic (yeah!) to which they were making money, and they have nothing better to do, aka show their superiority and that ‘they can.’
The site is secure, for now at least. Here are a few lessons I learned from this that may help you:
- Pay Attention – be sure to check your brand, meaning do Google searches frequently to see if you come up. Check your website and traffic to ensure you’re still up and running safely
- Check passwords – these guys have machines that they can ‘ping’ vulnerability to a site. Not sure how my hosting service did not catch this. Change your passwords frequently and make them really hard to figure out
- Don’t assume all is safe, or that it can’t happen to you because you’re small – it can. These hackers are trying to make money but it’s at your expense so keep in awareness at all times
- Have good back-up systems and people – be sure to back up your data for the possibility of moving your info to a new site or for your own peace of mind. Knowing the information you created is safe and available helps to be calmer during this type of situation. Hire knowledgeable IT experts who can help you take back control of the situation; your hosting site is another resource to help
- Be prepared to start over – this happened to me 7 years ago, where I had to redo a new website. Not being so attached lately to my current one, if I have to start over it won’t devastate me. Actually, I had been toying with the idea of creating a new website with some new branding, which leads me to the next point…..
- Watch your thoughts and words, as you might get what you wish for – I recognized that I had been consciously saying my dislike for my website and certain other things in my business. I’ve recognized that the energy I was putting out may have led to this but I can also look that it was the catalyst to finally take the plunge. Funny how the ‘law’ works that way.
Bottom line, all will be ok with me and I’ll push through this. Hope these tips will save you some grief and frustration to protect your business and your personal information. They will try but not win!