Earlier today, I received an unsettling call from one of the longtime advertisers on my website CharterWave. He had just hired some web-security snoops to look around his own site, and they found strange patterns in some CharterWave URLs. Even though the CharterWave site itself looked normal to anyone viewing it, and even though it was functioning properly on the back end, some hackers had installed a program that made Google think a number of pages were for Cialis and Viagra, with links that sent users to sites for those drugs instead of to the real content.
This is sneaky stuff, done at the level of my website’s configuration file. I would have never known it was there if somebody hadn’t gone looking for it. And you don’t have to be a programmer to know that something at that level can infect a whole website, like agents moving all around The Matrix.
I paused for a momentary panic attack, envisioning the nightmare of having to untangle and possibly rebuild a site that I have updated daily since 2006, and then I contacted LS Media, which is the company I use to provide CharterWave’s server space. They’re a little more expensive than big-name companies that jam tons of websites onto various servers, but they’re much smaller and hugely professional—and they pick up the phone when I call. I got the principal on the phone within literally one minute, and just a couple of hours after that, LS Media’s expert had found the source of the hack and nullified it. He also sent me all the information that my own site programmer will need to ensure that there are no long-term effects for search engines, and to make a best effort to prevent something like this from happening again.
Kudos to the team at LS Media for being so great at what they do. And thanks also to that savvy CharterWave advertiser—who is sticking with me because he knows how important it is to have a smart team around you when you enter The Matrix.