Monday, February 6, 2023
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Hacks and Google Whackery

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What’s a webmaster to do?

There is a lot to keep track of these days if you are brave (or some may say ignorant) enough to create and maintain your own website. Recently there have been several security breaches in WordPress, I have a post in draft where I was going to address them recently. Saturday morning I was pleasantly relaxing with a cup of coffee and surfing the net when I came across Tom Ewer’s excellent post on securing your site. I read the article and smugly thought, “Sweet, I have done all that, my sites are safe”. I left a comment thanking him and wandered here to check on the health of BP and was shocked to find a message,

“This site contains Malware and may hurt your computer”.

Sample Warning
Sample Warning

Oh my, what do I do? My first instinct was to reach out to someone in my network. I am forever grateful to have trusted online friends, who else would respond to my chat on a Saturday morning and offer suggestions!  After doing some scans, I realized that BP was not infected, but Google was still Blacklisting the site without a clear reason.

So off I went to do my homework and determine what the problem was. It could have been several things.

Hackers

In Tom’s article, he explains hackery well:

At the small/medium site level, hackers are generally looking to do one of two things:

  1. Use your website as a means of building a botnet of servers which they can use to do bigger and badder things
  2. Infect your website with malware that will drive search engine traffic etc. elsewhere

How does Malware get onto your site? By not staying up to date, not doing plugins, in essence, websites need attention.  Read the rest of Tom’s article, he really says it best!

Google Whackery

So back to my original dilemma. I knew none of the above applied. I contacted Hostgator and they opened a trouble ticket. I spent all day Saturday and Sunday poring over error logs and reading .php files, forums and Google Help forums. Seemed others had this warning, but were able to locate and delete the Malware, resubmit site to Google and move on. After hiring Sucuri (great service!) to do a full scan and coming up clean, I was still stumped. So I completely wiped out the data on the server and did a fresh install of WordPress. Because I use Manage WordPress, my site is backed up daily in a separate location, and I was able to restore from that.

I resubmitted to Google and still blacklisted! Finally the Security Team at Hostgator emailed me. Google was using SSL to check my site. Apparently if you don’t have a Security Certificate (only needed if you sell stuff) then when “https://”  is put in front of your site, it gets wonky! Nobody could answer why Google would search BP that way. It stumped a lot of really smart people, all folks that I am grateful for having in my circle. You can find them in the BP Partners links to the left of this post.

I still have a bit of work to do to get BP in shape, but that’s ok

 

6 thoughts on “Hacks and Google Whackery

  1. Chris,

    I give you a ton of credit for creating and maintaining the BP website. Writing alone is a mountain of work. I can’t even wrap my head around the amount of time that goes into dealing with the back end of a website.

    I think this is a good message for business owners that are considering building and/or maintaining their own websites. They have to ask the question “Is this where I should be spending my time and energy?”

    Thanks for all your hard work.

  2. Thanks Heidi, I guess that is the message! We all have skills, you write beautifully, Scott knows his products like no else, I could name a strong skill set for each of our contributors as well. “But none of us are as smart as all of us”. Find what you do well, surround yourself with others that do well and form a community that helps each other to be the best!

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words! I’m just the proverbial hamster on the wheel, it is our great community that contributes to and shares the content here at BP that makes it so great. Make sure you visit the sites of the contributors as well, they all do a great job!

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