The title of this post is designed to alert, not alarm you.
On Tuesday night I went to bed with my iPad, as I do every night. Opened up my blog reader app and started catching up on the blogs I follow every day.
I clicked through to this post on Crashing Red and promptly sent an email to myself with the link, thinking this was GOOD information to share in this how-to-blog space on a Saturday.
Turns out I was sharing it a bit sooner and in a context that I really wouldn’t wish on anyone.
The VERY next night I was about to log in to the dashboard of my blog and write my Thursday blog post but my Google Chrome browser timed out when trying to access my site. Then I tried on Firefox and Safari, on my iPhone and my iPad.
I COULD NOT GET ON TO MY SITE AT ALL. WITH ANYTHING.
At this point, I put in an emergency text to my wonderful web host, Michelle at Little Hero Hosting, who gave me sort of good news: it wasn’t the server causing the problem.
I say sort of good news because with both of us at a loss to work out what went wrong. The next five hours were spent uncomfortably in equal levels of frustration and panic.
Michelle re-loaded the core WordPress files and – using the back-up she does of my site every day – was attempting to restore the site that way.
Bless your cotton socks for having a great back-up system in place, Michelle … Do you back up your site or does someone back it up for you? Check out Katrina from the Block’s post yesterday for one way how to do this … my site is so big that the email way doesn’t work any more for me so I’m extremely grateful for the server backup.
At some point close to tears and regretting my no-drinking-during-the-week-hence-no-alcohol-in-the-house policy, I remembered Crashing Red’s post. Like a lightbulb moment, I tweeted her and said I thought the same thing might have happened to me.
That I’d been hacked. That malware had infected my site, possibly weaselling its way in through a plug-in update. Not necessarily that night, that day or even that week. It got in at some point and slowly started to affect the functioning of my site, to the point that it was no more.
I mean, who does that? Who uses their geeky power for evil? Who sits at home in front of their computer and thinks, hey, let’s put some dodgy code in something that lots of random people will innocently download and see what happens? For sh*ts and giggles?
Not only did Maria have clear steps to possibly get my blog sorted, she kept tweeting me like a virtual hand-hold. Love that girl’s style. In every way. And not just her hot DVF wedges.
Meanwhile, Michelle was also working her butt off and wracking her brain for a solution. We both went to bed in the early hours of the morning, tired and still frustrated and increasingly panicky.
In the bright, optimistic, good-things-happen world that I like to think I live in I woke up a few hours later, reached for my iPad and nothing. Nada.
Then did the school run. As you do.
Back in front of my iMac, I pulled up Maria’s post again and took her lead, heading straight to Sucuri, which monitors and removes malware. For less than $100 (this fee also covers me for regular scans and fixes for a year), they not only scanned and found the malware but got rid of it, with a real person “talking” to me via email. And then they followed up with a list of things I should now do to help prevent further hackings.
The fix didn’t show up straight away but after a few hours and communication back and forwards, Styling You was back.
I cried. Tears of exhaustion and relief all rolled into one big heaving sob.
I’m still exhausted. Stress will do that do you. I know worse things happen to people (worse has happened to me) but this was a major stress for me. I work for myself. My work revolves around my blog. My heart and soul go into this blog. I felt utterly helpless and unprepared.
Which is why I’m sharing my story here with you today. So that you share it and you share Maria’s story. The more we share in this blogging community – and this really is the big stuff we need to share – the more we can help each other.
I felt that big bloggie community love this week and I honestly hope no-one out there in blogging land has to go through what Maria or I did.
Has this ever happened to you?
PS. My web host, Michelle, has written a great post – the first in a series – about backing up your blog. You need to read it.
————————————————————————————————–Disclaimer: yes, this is an affiliate advertisement and yes, if you click through and sign up you will help me to replace my husband’s scotch that I was forced to throw down as it was the only alcohol in the house during my mid-week meltdown. I can assure you all of the above is not a sponsored post. It sadly really did happen.