Our Website was Hacked!

Strato Hosting Down

Technically this is a lie, but for the best way of describing it, it is the same.

We were camping in the Lake District, having a fun long weekend for the School Half Term Holidays. Unknown to us our hosting company had detected some strange activities on our website hosting account. A set of files were being accessed so many times that it was clogging up the bandwidth on the server. Which turned out to be a program that sent out spam emails. Spam emails that weren’t from us, but from our hosting account.

To clarify this a little more. A hosting account is basically some space on a hard disk which is connected to the internet. On our Hosting storage, we have 15 websites that I’ve created over the past 15 years running.

A hacker had found a security gap in one of the websites and installed the spamming program on the account. As soon as Strato (Our web host) spotted the activity they blocked our web hosting. This prevented any more malicious emails going out from their server, prevented their bandwidth being clogged up but also blocked any access to any of our websites. So to emphasise this none of our website data was actually hacked into, it was just the storage.

Strato Hosting

I’ve been using Strato for the past 10 years to host my website. They are a Germany based company and have always been on the ball. When new products where introduced I could upgrade within my price group free of charge. Their hosting wasn’t necessarily the cheapest either.

Strato Hosting

Everything was going great until our website was blocked.

So I went online and looked for the online chat app, which had always been helpful to resolve any minor issues. GONE! Next, I start to look for a phone number, again occasionally it was easier to speak to someone. GONE! I googled “Strato Hosting Telephone”, eventually finding a phone number. However, when I rang that number a message said “Due to a restructuring of the company, we no longer provide telephone support. Please email….”

Their customer services email has a 24 hour response time. However, as the hosting was hacked and blocked I was being “looked after” by their Abuse department. Who has a “72 hour response rate.” Not ideal, but as long as the problem was resolvable. After 10 days I was given a reply, which basically said: “you need to remove some files before we can reactivate the account”. OK! Simple, let’s delete some files. I could go on more about this, but essentially we had a slow email conversation of 4 emails over 21 days until the account was reactivated. What started as a shock, ended in total disappointment.

You pay for a service, but only when you need that service do you find out it is not there anymore!

We’re Back Online

Obviously, you know this as your reading the blog. To get back up and running wasn’t a simple task either.

Here come The Hoopers

We took the decision to move to a new hosting company. Someone who has online Chat, Telephone support, and Email support. While this wasn’t previously an issue for us we also decided to choose a company based in the UK.

Krystal Web Hosting

We decided to go with Krystal, the setup and offering for their hosting packages were more than I was previously getting.

Krystal Web Hosting

So far I have hassled their support team via the online chat and they have done more than required to help me. While I as a question on how to do something, they will tell me, but then offer to do it for me. They have been very very helpful and I’d like to recommend them to anyone looking for a new web host.
Here is an affiliate link. If you choose to sign up for hosting you will receive a £5 credit.
UK Web Hosting by Krystal

Though this wasn’t the reason for the post today. As a result of all the drama associated with the downtime, I’ve become a little security paranoid. Our website has now 3 different security programs monitoring all different aspects.

So If your a blogger or own a website, make sure you have everything locked down.
 

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