I’ve got my blog back! Well, almost…
Hi y’all! It’s been over a month since I was hacked and man have I learned a lot. First off, for those of you that blog, here are the details of what we think might have happened and what I’m doing to fix it.
Like many of you, I was in the grocery store getting supper and I was going to look up one of my recipes on my blog to use; I think it was one of my gnocchi soup recipes. Anyway, I went to Pinterest, found my pin and went to my blog. Yes, I took the long way of getting there, but that’s beside the point! All of a sudden, a porn site popped up. I tried not to completely freak out in the middle of the store and just thought to myself that maybe somehow the pin actually got redirected and I tried again and all was fine with the world.
Next day, I received a message from a reader graciously letting me know that my site was redirecting to porn and apparently a college essay site, which I would find out later. Who knew? I totally freaked out and started trying to run a scan on my site and it wouldn’t work. I tried to delete the antivirus/firewall plugin that I was using so I could download another one and it wouldn’t delete. Every time I tried it kept asking for my FTP information, weird right? Then I remembered that a few months ago, I had some weird hiccup on my blog and I had to delete my antivirus and decided to try a new one.
I’m pretty sure this is when everything started. I also received an email that came through my Contact Me page, and it seemed legit, except it was very personal. They seemed to have been following my blog for a very long time, but it was oddly personal with lots of spelling mistakes.
From this point on I’ve been back and forth with GoDaddy, SiteLock, my personal techie, and hours and hours of research and trial and error trying to figure out what happened and what to do. I immediately put the site in maintenance mode so that no one would have to go to that disgusting site. GoDaddy did everything they could, short of deleting my site, which is a bloggers worst nightmare. SiteLock was gracious and I did pay $80 for antivirus/firewall that I was talked into, but it couldn’t fix it and then they wanted me to pay over $200 or $50 a month for them to fix it.
We found out that the hack actually altered my core WordPress files and images, in other words, a total loss. I cried, I actually broke down and cried as if my best friend had died. I just knew that years of blogging were gone. So now what? I decided to not do anything for a while. Just sit, breathe, pray and then not even think about it.
So I handed my computer over to my favorite techie to make sure that my computer itself wasn’t infected. I figured if I left it alone, maybe something would come to me. Maybe I would start over with a new blog and a new domain, or maybe I would just quit altogether. Then it came to me, would starting over be the worst thing in the world? Nope!
So I thought I backed up my blog using the export tool from my WordPress dashboard. Apparently, that’s not the best backup method. Anyway, I contacted GoDaddy and decided to take the site down. My thought was, if I took the bad, broken site down, downloaded a fresh install of WordPress and just started with everything fresh, it would be all clean, in theory.
It worked! Well, sort of. The install was a success. It’s taken a lot of tweaking here and there and a good bit of back and forth with GoDaddy and Jetpack to get some things working smoothly, but I have my site back. I did lose three years worth of blog posts due to them being corrupted by the hacked and all of my images. I’m having to reinstall every plugin and redesign my entire site. It’s taking forever, but I’m getting there. I run WordFence with every time I’ve uploaded files or migrated files. I’m having to go over each post and upload all images and configure the SEO all over again. Not to mention, I still have three years worth of posts that I still need to upload from the XML file of my site.
But, that’s ok. I have my site back and it’s going to be better than before. I’ve learned, to be very careful when things seem a little fishy. Use a backup plugin to store your files offsite your host, don’t rely on the export site tool in the dashboard either. Have a good antivirus and firewall on your site and change your passwords occasionally. I sure have learned a lot from all of this and I hope you have too. I still have a lot of work to do and I hope you’ll be patient with me as I rebuild, but in the end, starting over hasn’t been so bad either.