Hello world..

Hello world.. Keep everything crossed guys, because I think we’re now back to full steam. For those of you who aren’t aware, the webmaster, tech guy, coder, reporter and guy doing the server management is.. me. If anything goes wrong, like it did last week, I have to sort it out.

Last week something got squirted into our database. That “something” was an IFRAME with some nasty code inside. An IFRAME is basically a window which opens up another site. In this case it went off to another site, threw a cookie at you, then pushed down a random selection of bad software including adware, spyware and viruses. You guys notified me about this and I had a good look but couldn’t find anything relating to the URL it was showing. It happened a day later with a different URL, then on Friday it got a whole lot worse as Google marked us as a “bad site”. I can fully appreciate why they did this – we were distributing bad software, so I’m sort-of glad they blocked us. When this happened Firefox and Google Chrome used the Google information to comletely and utterly stop access to us. A banner appeared under Google searches telling everyone about our problem and, well… it was the start of a very bad weekend. Read on to read the whole sorry story.. This weekend I’ve taken the site completely to bits. Bear in mind here that this site has been twiddled and messed with over the last 5 years by me, usually with the help of lager and random bits of badly-written PHP code. It’s now nothing like the original content management system I chose and everything has been mashed together as time has gone on.

So this weekend, with a severe case of man-flu, the site “blacklisted” by Google and turned off in Firefox and Google Chrome, I set to work. Looking at the code whilst completely sober is a frightening experience. I’ve sat here with my wife and baby boy bouncing around in his bouncer trying to make sense of the utter mess that I’ve coded. It’s so badly written and mashed together that I’m surprised it works at all. I guess you could call it “growing pains” as the site grew, but making sense of it all again is very difficult.

So, after adding more security and ripping everything off-line that didn’t need to be on-line, I placed bits back bit-by-bit. I’ve broken and repaired the site several times this weekend, so hopefully now we’re sorted. On Saturday night Google put us back onto the “safe” list and people browsing with Firefox etc should see us online again now.

If anything this whole experience has shown the sheer power that Google has over the internet. With one flick of a switch they can block around 60% of our traffic – that’s pretty shocking stuff, but like I said, I’m glad they did it because it’s forced me to look again at everything on the site.

Once again I want to thank absolutely everyone who helped out with screen-shots, advice, tips, donations and messages of support. I want to personally apologise to everyone who got infected by this and I’ll be on the look-out for any future problems.

With any luck we can now get back to our regularly scheduled programming…