I know this blog has been quiet for the last few weeks, as far as its readers are concerned. It hasn’t been quiet here, behind the scenes, however. I have a whole series of blog posts to write related to Ravencon (and its panels). I’ve been looking forward to working on it, and went on to my blog a few weeks ago to start writing.
I instead had to scramble to fix the damage of someone hacking into my website. So, if you got a “this website may have been hacked” warning from Google or elsewhere… I’ve done what I can, and the problem should be fixed (at least nothing popped up in the scans), assuming nothing gets through between when I write this post and when I post it. I’ve been trying to fix it, myself, but since my tech team (me) is part time and under-educated for this sort of thing, it took me a while to take care of things. I’d replace me, but it’s not in my budget to hire someone else.
Since the repairs have been completed, however, I’ve been trying to figure out how to prevent this from happening again without reducing functionality or spending way more money than I can afford.
Curiously, I only found out about the hack not because of a warning from my security software, but because Google had detected I was using an “outdated” version of vbulletin’s forum software. Since I’d deleted any forum software from this website years ago (and before it was deleted, that forum software wasn’t vbulletin), I knew something was wrong.
The hack appears unrelated to the problem from earlier this year that took this site down for a month, but it’s still troubling on that issue’s heels. Both problems seem related to plug-ins; one was a bit of old code that confused my security software, the other was a security hole in a different plug-in that a bot was able to use to hack into my website.
That hole that may have since been patched, but now I’m going through my old widgets, plug ins, etc, and deleting some old stuff that hasn’t had any updates for a while and may be vulnerable. Much of it is stuff no-one out here will notice, but there are a few things you might see if you go digging deep in my blog’s archives. The old polling plug-in that never worked right is now gone (which may mean the three year old posts that had been using that plug-in won’t display correctly, any more; I don’t think that’s a reason to keep the plug-in, however). I’ve also removed some broken links from previous blog entries that were detected during the clean-up process.
The next step will be to clean up and re-purpose the “Convention Calendar.” At one point in time, I was hoping to use that plug-in to create a resource that could help SF\F writers and fans find writer-friendly conventions… but no-one ever seemed interested, the conventions themselves rarely cared when I e-mailed them to ask for a missing piece of information, and it took a lot of work, so I haven’t bothered updating it in ages.
Clearing out the calendar’s archives (which apparently attract harmful bots) will kill that plan for good. I still think I can use the plug-in, however. We’ll see. After that, I may think about changing the “theme” for this blog; the current theme is one of the WordPress default themes, and is regularly patched by them (which, in theory, suggests they’re on top of plugging any security vulnerabilities), but it’s an older one, and apparently that might increase the potential for there to be exploits. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.
Oh, and in unrelated (but still largely administrative) news, I finally made some minor updates to the Fennec Fox Press website. Nothing major (most importantly, I added This Book Cannot Make Any Money to the “My Books” page, as well as an audiobook link for The Merrimack Event), but in the process I went through the “Fennec Fox Press Recommends” page and updated links to reflect newer editions, and to replace items that were no longer on sale. I didn’t add anything all that new to it, but in the process I found that a book I would recommend to any writer (indeed, most creatives), which had long been out of print, came out with a new edition. Since I think this particular book is so important for the writer, I will highlight the newest edition of The Law (In Plain English) For Writer’s.
And that’s it. I had a blog post ready to go last week, but I didn’t want to put it out until I was confident that all the damage had been fixed. So, starting next week, my long-delayed series of “Ravencon Panels (I Didn’t Do), 2018 Edition” posts will begin… unless something ELSE goes wrong. (Sheesh, this year has been hard on this blog).