Paranoid security policies pay off

Almost a year ago I made a post explaining a bit about "Website hosting" - what it is and why Chilli Chocolate Marketing provides it to our clients if required.

Now hosting a company website brings certain responsibilities. Website vandals and malicious hackers are constantly on the lookout for badly-secured websites - they're out there 24/7 performing the digital equivalent of trying doors and windows to see if they're locked and looking under doormats for spare keys. So keeping up to date with security patches and maintaining secure backups is absolutely critical.

A couple of months ago a large Australian hosting company - DistributeIT - was put out of business by an attack that not only took all 4800 of its hosted websites offline but destroyed its backups as well.

Rob McAdam, CEO of security firm Pure Hacking, said the issue was a "catastrophic problem" for those with websites hosted by Distribute.IT.

"If these clients of Distribute.IT had no other backup other than what was at Distribute.IT, they would then have to rebuild their site - from scratch," he said.

"From the Distribute.IT blog post, it appears that they have lost all of the content for these web sites and any associated backups that Distribute.IT kept."

James Turner, security analyst at IBRS, said: "This could be the nightmare scenario that every small/medium businessperson working on the internet has in the back of their minds.

If you're a CCM hosting client you may recall me getting in touch recently to let you know that new security patches were available and new backups were about to be made and stored. You may possibly have wondered if such paranoia was really necessary.

Well that paranoia paid off -  we got attacked last week!

The administrators at the datacentre where we lease server space got in touch with a warning of "suspicious activity" on one of our hosted sites. We immediately took the site offline and performed a security audit, one which confirmed that hackers had indeed been trying to take over the site and use it to send Russian email spam.

However thanks to a sensible security and backup policy we were able to identify what the hackers were trying to do and lock them out easily. Net downtime for the affected site was approximately 15 minutes while we "checked the locks from the inside". Then it was back to business as usual.

Sometimes it pays to be paranoid!



(Image credit: CarbonNYC, Creative Commons.)