Update 0539 Friday: save-wye was closed yesterday by a deliberate attack, one we could have survived had it not been for the incompetence of our then hosting service. We are now with a new host and have recovered most of the site.
Friday night update. Please excuse the brief outage tonight. There was nothing suspicious about this. It was just an idiot user — me — forgetting to tell this site to stop using the old temporary database I created to keep it up and running during the move. Many thanks to our new host, Dreamhost, for not only spotting the problem but fixing it.
We got clobbered yesterday. Our US hosting service declared save-wye was too popular for our own good and decided without warning, that it was moving us to another server. After that point, very little of the site worked, as many of you may have noticed, and eventually people started getting an ‘account suspended’ notice, which amazed me since I still have eight paid for months to run on this contract.
To answer the obvious question first: no, we weren’t hacked in the sense that someone got inside. But we appear to have been victim of some kind of attack in which there was an attempt to ‘flood’ the server by repeatedly demanding informaton in such substantial quantities from the site that our hosting service became concerned.
In ordinary circumstances this would have been relatively easy to deal with. Unfortunately our then host, Siteground, compounded matters by deciding peremptorily to move us, without our permission, to a different machine. In the course of this move the site was first broken and then apparently deleted altogether. It was rebuilt from a backup of ours yesterday afternoon and put up on another hosting service, but then Siteground kindly, without telling us, repointed the site name back to their own, dud server which broke the site again. It’s fun out there, I tell you.
Some of the finer points are still missing — and since I am off on holiday tomorrow they won’t be fixed for a while. But the articles are here, and we will be publishing as normal from now on, though you may find some older articles have lost their photographs and file links (we hope to restore them shortly).
Since we are moving from one host to another you may find you flicker between the old dead address and the new site from time to time. You can usually cure this by clearing the cache on your browser. What we did not have the ability to recreate before the original files disappeared altogether are your comments. It would help us enormously if you could find the time to do that yourselves, where you think it’s appropriate. Bear in mind though that our search engine doesn’t search comments (not yet anyway), so old ones may get lost. My feeling is that you’d be better off commenting on what’s happening now than what happened a few months ago. But what do I know?
Nor will we have the same statistics available for a while, since they take a bit of setting up — just a running total of unique users. If you have signed up for a subscription your sub should have been recreated, but we can’t guarantee it will be exactly as you left it. Please revisit the subscription page to check. The Feedburner service is not back up and running yet, and since most people use the site directly I may not resurrect that one (RSS users will see a direct RSS button the front of the site which they can use).
We have no way of trying to pinpoint the source of the attack, so I make no accusations towards anyone on that front. There are a lot of geeks without girlfriends out there. These things happen, unfortunately, and they tend to be the moment when you discover whether you are with a good host or a bad one. That said I have never encountered anything like this in ten years of running web sites. You may rest assured that we have extra measures to guard against this kind of thing in future, and are using a much better, and consequently more expensive, host, one of America’s largest, Dreamhost.