Hackers generally don't target individuals, they target easy marks. With an ever increasing number of these attacks coming from foreign countries, legal recourse is non-existent for most small and home businesses. Prevention is the only real option. If it can happen to someone with 11 years experience in web design who is a published author on the subject, it can happen to anyone.
Stevens Point, WI (PRWEB) July 9, 2008
As an 11-year veteran of e-commerce, web design writer and home business expert Dennis Gaskill was used to seeing sales slow down in the weeks leading up to the tax filing deadline. At the time, he attributed his sluggish sales to consumer concern over rising oil prices and the overall economy. After a few more weeks of further declining sales, however, it became clear that this was more than a short-term fluctuation. It was only after conducting more extensive research at Google® that Gaskill discovered that something far more sinister was at work.
"I began to search for my site using keywords and phrases for which it has traditionally ranked on the first page or two, but my site had seemingly disappeared," Gaskill explains. "I clicked down into the search results for 50 pages without finding my site for any of my top keywords."
Concerned that his site was no longer listed with the major search engines, Gaskill focused his search for results within his own domain only. The first couple of pages returned results; however, he soon began to see pages listed for his site that he knew he had not created. Gaskill's investigation eventually uncovered hundreds of these pages, for all sorts of things: shoes, porn, celebrities, MP3 downloads, pharmaceuticals, jewelry, sports equipment, and hundreds of other topics unrelated to his website.
Hoping to locate and remove the subject pages, Gaskill next logged into his site via FTP, but found no trace of them there. What he found, hidden in a directory he seldom worked with, was a PHP script. The hacker was utilizing this script in an attempt to siphon traffic from BoogieJack.com, and redirect it elsewhere; but, due to an error in the script, clicks to all of the created links were resulting in a 404, or "file not found" error.
To the search engines, the site now had about 300 good pages, and about 6,000 broken pages. Search engines penalize sites with too many broken links, as this affects the quality of search results. Almost overnight, eleven years' worth of work in building a full-time, successful online business had been completely destroyed.
The devastation to Gaskill, his website, and his family is palpable. "Imagine, if you will, a loss of 60 to 70 percent of your income for a prolonged period of time, with no end to the drop-off in sight," he says. "This would have a very serious impact on almost any business. For us, the bottom line is that we were forced to put our home up for sale."
In a true reflection of his entrepreneurial spirit, Gaskill immediately began rebuilding his site, from the ground up. But he didn't stop there.
Like so many other website owners, Gaskill had never been the victim of a hacker before, and assumed it couldn't happen to him. Now, armed with personal experience, an arsenal of tips, and valuable recovery advice, Gaskill has authored a no-holds barred report that is aimed at helping others avoid a similar fate. Included are 14 points for fortifying your website, along with 8 recovery steps to implement in the event your site is breached.
Given the havoc that this event has wreaked upon Gaskill financially, one might expect a hefty price tag attached to this informational guide. But you'd be wrong. Gaskill is offering the report free of charge to anyone who would like to receive a copy, in hopes that he can help others avoid falling prey to a hacker.
Gaskill explains, "Hackers generally don't target individuals, they target easy marks. With an ever increasing number of these attacks coming from foreign countries, legal recourse is non-existent for most small and home businesses. Prevention is the only real option. If it can happen to someone with 11 years experience in web design who is a published author on the subject, it can happen to anyone."
Gaskill is the author of Web Site Design Made Easy (Third Edition), a web design book now being used as the teaching text in hundreds of colleges, tech schools, and high schools. His award-winning, original content ezine about web design and life design--Almost a Newsletter--was named the Best Ezine of the Year by an independent newsletter review service and also named a Top 3 Ezine in Writer's Digest magazine. To receive a copy of "Hacked! My
Business Was Ruined by a Hacker--Your Web Site Could Be Next," visit http://www.BoogieJack.com/software/HackerReport.pdf.