Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Strange Happenings Afoot, but Typewriter Sightings Abound
It's been fun, for the most part - barely perceptible, in fact, which is just how I like it. For a retro tech enthusiast, I like to keep my knowledge of high tech as superficial as possible - solely on a need-to-know basis. I could probably figure out more if I tried, but I have a pile of sewing so high I can barely see my desk. That said, it has been nice to have this little thing chugging along without too much intervention, posting when I am able and having Google index the pages on its search engine so new visitors can land here when they look up one typewriter or the other.
So it went until just about a week ago, when J pulled up my blog and saw that it had disappeared. Vanished! And in its place, was a page from a strange web hosting company that I would later learn was Vietnamese. I had been hacked. At first, I thought this was something to do with not having updated my credit card details in time to pay the yearly renewal fee - it was due in June and I had been rather preoccupied with personal matters around that time, so I had ignored it. I promptly logged in and changed my billing details to current ones, but the problem persisted. I changed my log-in details everywhere I could think of, and as I was not able to figure out how to get the site back, I quickly snapped up the domain retrotechgeneva.net, in case .com was lost to me forever. At least I had the presence of mind to realize that the contents of the site were still intact, hosted as they have always been on Blogger.
After some more calm research on the subject, I realized that my DNS settings had been changed by the hacker and figured out how to get in and reset them. I was triumphant the first time I figured this out - until the hacker attacked again. This was followed by a few days of back and forth between the hackers and myself - I would log in to change the DNS, they would get in and switch it back. Sometimes the page displayed the Vietnamese logo, other times something from DreamHost, even a welcome message from Wordpress once. It was infuriating. I spent time on the phone with Google Apps support, and then with GoDaddy, searching for one solution and then another. I changed passwords, only to have the hackers return. I allowed Customer Service to lock my account to all log-ins, including myself, which meant that only a call to their offices from me personally would allow a settings change. The hackers scoffed at this - they still found a way in, changing my page to some gibberish from Dreamhost, a company I had never heard of.
In the meantime, I wanted to have my blog online anyway and so removed the redirect every time I figured that a new hack had taken place. Doing this 2-3 times a day quickly wore off, so I plunked the blog on the .net domain, where it remains now, and placed a holding page on the .com. After my web hosts assured me they were "monitoring the situation" and "looking for solutions", I reached the end of my tether when, after almost 20 hours without a hack and a false sense of security settling in, the hackers came again. Near midnight, on the phone with Customer Service, I accepted their suggestion to sever ties with Google Apps and register the domain entirely on GoDaddy. Doesn't make much of a practical difference to me or to you; I've never been one to tinker anyway. So that was done, my holding page is back up, and I am slowly counting to see if we can reach 72 hours of uninterrupted DNS settings. Fingers crossed.
Ultimately, even if the .com proves stable, I might decide to keep the typewriter blog here (I'm sure the search engines will catch on eventually) and use the other domain for something else. I have been thinking it's high time I blogged properly about my sewing adventures and this could be an opportune moment. I hadn't really wanted to call my sewing blog RTG as well, but I guess I do sew on machines that are just a tad outmoded... ok, enough of boring techy stuff. Back to the retro tech sightings: