Well, hello there!
So, why exactly have G&T and Noise To Signal been down since Monday evening? It’s a long and boring story, and is actually slightly more complicated than what I’ll tell you here – but believe me, it’s boring enough as it is.
Some of you will have noticed virus warnings popping up on G&T and NTS recently. Well, I FTPed in and checked the files on the server, and found no evidence of any problems – so I kept the sites online, believing the reports simply to be false positives. But by Monday night, we were getting far too many complaints to ignore – so I took G&T and NTS offline to check for problems. And sure enough, James on NOTBBC found the problem – the exploit code wasn’t in our files at all, but was added by the server – it was the entire server which was compromised, not our account. In other words: it was not our fault. Our hosts are Hosting Unlimited – and a quick check of their forums shows that this has happened before.
…Oh yeah, and just so you know – Hosting Unlimited had their support forums hacked last month.
So, on Monday night/Tuesday morning at 12:03am, I submitted an urgent support ticket, entitled “Virus warning – iframe hack”. I expected an answer pretty much first thing on Tuesday’s working day. And I waited. And waited. And waited. Nothing. So, 24 hours later, I sent them another support ticket asking what was happening. And I heard nothing. A full 45 hours after I had sent them them an urgent support ticket, I had heard bugger all. And I’ve heard nothing at all from them regarding the issue since.
Now, forgive me, but if I was a hosting company, I’d take any warnings of viruses being injected on my server rather seriously.
As it happens, the issue managed to resolve itself – completely coincidentally. Whilst all this was going on, both G&T and NTS were moving servers (within the same hosting company) – in order to fix the problem with ‘The only survivors…’ article not fully loading. (Which is now fixed. Hooray!) Now, I was aware that the sites were going to have to move servers at some point anyway – but I thought the move had already taken place, as Hosting Unlimited asked me last month when I wanted them to do the transfer. I gave them the date of Friday 1st September, and as I hadn’t heard anything back from them, I had assumed it had been done. Silly me for thinking they would be as professional to tell me if there was a problem and they hadn’t gone ahead. (Incidentally, the move has caused one blog post and some comments to disappear into the ether. Sorry about that, but I think you’ll cope.)
Luckily, the new server doesn’t have the virus problem. So we are now entirely free of viruses, and I don’t expect the problem to reappear. It was only people using IE who were affected, no-one else – so if you use IE and have visited NTS or G&T over the past month, I suggest a virus scan. But if you’re using IE, you should be doing regular virus checks anyway.
Needless to say, I’m annoyed. The downtime we’ve had is far worse than if it was just the server move, as I didn’t reactivate G&T or NTS once the transfer was complete because I was still worried about viruses. I’m appalled that Hosting Unlimited’s server was infected – I take security very seriously, and I made sure that security was watertight on both G&T and NTS. Hosting Unlimited managed to completely undermine my hard work, and has put distrust in a lot of people’s minds about both G&T and NTS. But worst of all – they never responded to an urgent support request about an infected server. This is beyond belief, and needless to say I’m hunting for a new host as soon as possible. All they needed to do was tell me that the problem was sorted on the new server. It would have taken one minute, and saved me a hell of a lot of stress.
So: whatever you do – don’t use Hosting Unlimited. They’re a bunch of incompetents.