I can’t say I had nightmares last night about waking up and discovering that Television Obscurities was still hacked (or had been hacked again). It was certainly on my mind, however. Thankfully, all signs point to everything being back to normal.
I am fairly confident that whatever weaknesses or lapses in security that allowed the hacker access to the site have been dealt with. Was I targeted? Was it an automated hack? I don’t know and I don’t care. All I cared about was getting the site back.Ultimately, I decided to just delete WordPress (my blogging software) entirely and start fresh. Unless you really know what you are doing, and I mean really, trying to clean up a site that has been hacked is next to impossible. If you have to follow step by step instructions to try to clean your hacked site, you don’t really know what you’re doing. Delete it all and start fresh.
The past week has been a frustrating one for me, for obvious reason. My immediate concern after discovering the hack was that the longer the site was down the more likely it was the search engines would start to remove Television Obscurities. I was also worried that new visitors would assume the site no longer existed and never come back while returning visitors would decide maybe they didn’t need to return so often. That’s why I created a Twitter account to keep people updated. I do plan on continue to use it even though the site is now back.
For the past four days I have spent basically all my free time before and after work trying to deal with the hack. (Television Obscurities is a hobby; I have a full-time job and could not take time off to fix my hacked website.) There were a lot of false starts.
What’s even more frustrating is that for the past few months I’ve been planning “a bright new season of Television Obscurities” that was supposed to roll out this coming Monday to coincide with the start of the 2013-2014 television season. That’s not going to happen. I’ll have to push it back at least until October.
You’ll notice that the site looks completely different. The layout, text and color schemes are all new. I decided not to reinstall the custom theme I had been using. It was designed for a static website almost seven years ago by a friend of mine and I adapted it for WordPress. It had been cobbled together over the years using snippets of code taken from various websites in an attempt to force it to do what I wanted. This new theme was professionally designed and although it will take some getting used to, I can already tell it is much faster than the old one.
I can customize the new theme and will be doing just that over the coming weeks and months. There is also a premium version available for a small fee that offers additional options and features. I’ll probably be purchasing that at some point. Right now I’m focused more on making sure the layout, navigation and functionality are in working order.
Aside from the general look and feel of the site, there are some major issues that need to be dealt with. Some images are missing. None of the video or audio files are working at the moment. Restoring the video vault is going to be difficult. That took a lot of work and customization of my old theme to set up. I probably won’t try to bring it back. Instead, video vault posts will just be like any other post (which is how they were displayed for many years).
So I have a lot of work to do just to get the site back to where it was before the hack. I’m taking tonight off and I’ll start back tomorrow morning and see what I can get done through the weekend.