Dear all,

If you read or attempted to read any of wife Gloria's columns during the period of Sunday, October 5, 2014 through Thursday, October 9, 2014, you may have received a warning such as the one at the bottom of this page.

That problem has been solved!

If you want to know what that was all about, read on.

In less you have been living in a cave and just came to the Internet last week, you are aware that there are a lot of folks out there who attempt to hijack computers connected to the Internet for various purposes. The most common reason is to send you advertising which, while annoying, is harmless. Some are less benign such as making a whole bunch of computers work together to all make requests from a single website at one time. This overloads the website so that legitimate users cannot reach it. Another involves trying to search around the computer for information such as passwords to accounts and then use those passwords to access such things as on-line bank accounts.

Some folks do this for profit, others to damage websites that for whatever reason they have a problem with, while a great many are folks who just like the challenge of seeing if they can break in - in other words, just for the fun of it.

In our case, working with our ISP - Internet Service Provider - we have pieced together a story that looks like this: At some time - probably while we were in France last May/June - someone probably in Poland obtained our account's password. This could have been by intercepting a message or by guessing it. This "guessing" approach uses a computer to repeatedly make guesses until it is successful. We also know that our ISP received quite a few probes during that period from that part of the world. France is also known for having poor security measures.

As often happens, once successful, this information is saved until the hacker is ready to use it - if that is his or her goal.

In our case, a line of code was inserted into Gloria's columns that would cause anyone loading a column to visit a site in Germany called Rosa-Handy. In Germany, "Handy" is their term for a cell phone and that site sells pink-colored versions, hence the name.

It is probably the case that their website too had been hacked as it had a folder with a program that would have been executed to do something ... what, is unknown.

There have been no indications that anything significant took place if you did access a column during that period.

In any event, that code was stripped from all of the columns and the password changed so, once again, all is cool.

Certain search engines, such as Google, actively search for sites that appear to have been hacked and when it finds one, instead of sending someone who clicks on the link to the site, it sends the warning.

After a fix is implemented, the owner of the site sends a request to have it reviewed. The review is done MANUALLY - a real human does it! - and since as of this past week, they had almost a million and a half such sites, you can understand that the verification takes some time. It appears that was completed late Thursday, October 9, three days after the problem was corrected.


Warning image. This is just an illustration so the links/buttons do NOT work.

Comments? [email protected].
Earlier columns from 2014 may be found at: 2014 Index.
Links to previous years are on the home page: Home