What to do when you're Hacked

42 replies
A nightmare or what!

Logged in one of my sites and nothing! Logged on another, nothing again!!

Weird! Logged via ftp and all my sites are empty! Literally wiped out!

Logged to my cPanel, all empty! Over 300 websites, all empty, Nada All wiped out!


Called Hostgator and they said I've been Hacked!!!

Hello Folks,

My very first post!

The name is John Paloulian, from Pasadena, Sunny California, although right now to me it looks way and way too cloudy!

Sorry for the introduction, it's obvious I'm in a deep hole... All my work of over 2 years is gone... Don't know what to do. Since morning I'm frozen in front of the computer.

Any Suggestions!
#hacked
  • Profile picture of the author Mickm
    All good hosts take regular (daily) backups, so they should be able to replace the site for you from their backups.

    Once it's back change ALL your usernames and passwords on every part of your site, don't allow any 777 permissions on any file or directory inc CGI bin & htaccess.

    I know it's scary the first time you get hacked but take it as a compliment that somebody obviously sees you as a threat to their business. You'll come back stronger through this.

    Best of luck
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    • Profile picture of the author JohnPal
      Originally Posted by Mickm View Post

      I know it's scary the first time you get hacked but take it as a compliment that somebody obviously sees you as a threat to their business. You'll come back stronger through this.

      Best of luck
      Thanks Mickm,

      You're right, I guess I should take that as a complement, but over 300 websites are not easy to even upload. It's a lifetime of work!

      I know I will be back for sure, and definitely much stronger, but thinking about it alone makes me shiver!

      John P.
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    • Profile picture of the author yezbick99
      I agree. this is the best solution. Make backups daily.

      Originally Posted by Mickm View Post

      All good hosts take regular (daily) backups, so they should be able to replace the site for you from their backups.

      Once it's back change ALL your usernames and passwords on every part of your site, don't allow any 777 permissions on any file or directory inc CGI bin & htaccess.

      I know it's scary the first time you get hacked but take it as a compliment that somebody obviously sees you as a threat to their business. You'll come back stronger through this.

      Best of luck
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  • Profile picture of the author tommygadget
    Originally Posted by JohnPal View Post

    A nightmare or what!

    Logged in one of my sites and nothing! Logged on another, nothing again!!

    Weird! Logged via ftp and all my sites are empty! Literally wiped out!

    Logged to my cPanel, all empty! Over 300 websites, all empty, Nada All wiped out!


    Called Hostgator and they said I've been Hacked!!!

    Hello Folks,

    My very first post!

    The name is John Paloulian, from Pasadena, Sunny California, although right now to me it looks way and way too cloudy!

    Sorry for the introduction, it's obvious I'm in a deep hole... All my work of over 2 years is gone... Don't know what to do. Since morning I'm frozen in front of the computer.

    Any Suggestions!
    HostGator does backups. Ask them for last week's backup and they should be able to restore everything.

    TomG.
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    • Profile picture of the author JohnPal
      Originally Posted by tommygadget View Post

      HostGator does backups. Ask them for last week's backup and they should be able to restore everything.

      TomG.
      Thanks Tom,
      I already asked them for that and this was their reply:

      "The account has not participated in our backups due to iNode usage. The account consumed over 300,000 inodes at the time of our last backup."

      They only allow 50,000 iNodes. And they say it's unlimited everything, what a way to limit their unlimited-ness!!

      John
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      • Profile picture of the author SiteMiracle
        Originally Posted by JohnPal View Post

        Thanks Tom,
        I already asked them for that and this was their reply:

        "The account has not participated in our backups due to iNode usage. The account consumed over 300,000 inodes at the time of our last backup."

        They only allow 50,000 iNodes. And they say it's unlimited everything, what a way to limit their unlimited-ness!!

        John
        This is a ridiculous reason. I never heard about a web host basing their backups on iNodes. Infact they should have notified you that you've exceeded your backup limit before the incident.

        Getting a reseller account will be a good idea, that way... you won't loose all your sites in one day.
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        • Profile picture of the author dave147
          [DELETED]
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          • Profile picture of the author MikeHumphreys
            1. Check your computer for any of the site backups or what you originally uploaded.

            2. Check the Wayback Machine to see if any of them are archived.

            3. Go up the food chain and talk to a manager at HostGator and ask about ANY backups they *should* have for any of your sites.

            I'm sorry to hear that you got hacked but not having any backups is a HUGE error on your part. It's a painful lesson to learn unfortunately.

            RE: Hostgator. At least once per week, I either hear from a customer or read a forum post here of someone who had a problem with HostGator. I don't know why people continue to use them with all of the problems always being reported. If I had your experience with HostGator, I'd fire them in a heartbeat and never use or recommend them again.

            Look, your hosting is probably the most critical part of any online business. IF your sites aren't online then you can't make any money from them. Plain and simple.

            Invest some serious coin in your hosting account. It's not the area to cut corners.

            If you have 300 sites, you should have *at least* 3 reseller accounts so if one account gets hit, only 1/3 of your business is affected. Putting all of your sites on one account or server is playing with fire because if that server ever goes down then you're out of business until it comes back online.

            The hosting company I've started to recommend almost exclusively is LiquidWeb.com. They aren't the cheapest but they offer god-like support. I usually get an answer to a tech support ticket within 10 minutes, even if it's 2 in the morning.

            Case in point: in the last 2 months, 3 different sites of mine (none of the ones I promote here in WF) got hit by the Javascript Unescape trojan. I contacted tech support at LiquidWeb and they restored my site free of charge. In the case of the one site where there was new files that weren't part of their backup, they *manually* cleaned the files from the trojan infection. The other two were restored in less than 30 minutes.

            I found a discount coupon through WebHostingTalk.com for LiquidWeb awhile ago that got me a VPS for $50/month with double the normal capacity. I suggest you do the same.

            Again, it's not cheap hosting but I sleep like a baby knowing that my hosting company busts their a$$ to keep my sites up and running properly.

            Best of luck,

            Mike
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        • Profile picture of the author JohnPal
          Originally Posted by anndyll View Post

          This is a ridiculous reason. I never heard about a web host basing their backups on iNodes. Infact they should have notified you that you've exceeded your backup limit before the incident.

          Getting a reseller account will be a good idea, that way... you won't loose all your sites in one day.
          Hi Anndyll,

          Ridiculous, yes it is, but what can you do. It's in their TOS. I should have checked beforehand.

          Now that I know about these iNodes, before signing I'm checking the fine prints, to make sure there's no such ridiculous TOS. So far besides Hostgator I noticed couple other companies practicing that same sleazy method.

          After all what's the point of announcing unlimited/un-metered everything and then limiting all that with only 50,000 iNodes. Specially nowadays you can easily reach that cap with a dozen of websites...

          John
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  • Profile picture of the author BurgerBoy
    I know this doesn't help you now - but it might in the future.

    I build all of my sites with a website builder on my computer and then load them to the server.

    If they get messed up on the server I just load them to the server from my computer again.
    Signature
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  • My host (Not Host Gator) has backups of everything.

    I would imagine so does HostGator... so they should be able to back up to whatever is the most recent version they have for your account. It's going to be up to you to push for a good result.

    This will probably take some work on the telephone.

    Sometimes you don't realize the value of paying a few extra dollars for hosting until it's too late.

    You need to go Higher Up the Host Gator chain of command. It's ridiculous for them to just say you were using too many resources.

    Most of the people saying how great HostGator is are doing it because they pay high commissions to affiliates. And unlimited has plenty of limits as you are finding out.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mickm
    I actually lol'd when I read their response, never heard of a host refusing to take backups before.
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  • Profile picture of the author TheRichJerksNet
    Hostgator keeps weekly backups unless it is a dedicated server.. Dedicated you are responsible to do your own backups as WHM will do them automatically for you on the time when you select for the backup to be done.

    You should also have backups on your computer, if you do not then this is a huge lesson learned... Always keep backups on your computer, an external hard-drive is better though.

    James
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    • Profile picture of the author JohnPal
      Originally Posted by TheRichJerksNet View Post

      Hostgator keeps weekly backups unless it is a dedicated server.. Dedicated you are responsible to do your own backups as WHM will do them automatically for you on the time when you select for the backup to be done.

      You should also have backups on your computer, if you do not then this is a huge lesson learned... Always keep backups on your computer, an external hard-drive is better though.

      James
      Thanks James,

      Yes they do backups when the iNodes are less then 50,000 mine was over 300,000 and after couple of hours with them on the phone they clearly said that they don't have any back-ups for me.

      It seems that being a loyal Hostgator customer for over 2 years, didn't matter at all with them. They have so many that they don't even care! But eventually if they keep this kind of attitude they will loose hordes of clients very soon.

      Yes, lesson learned... Now it's time to start all over again! And back up every file.

      John
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  • Profile picture of the author DrewG
    Yep, always keep backups on your PC (even though it's a lot to manage), ya never know when something like this might happen!

    Good luck in restoring your sites!

    ~D.C.
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  • Profile picture of the author JohnPal
    Thank you All Folks,

    Yes, a huge lesson learned here...

    Back-up at least once a month to avoid future problems.

    We don't see the gravity until it happens to us...

    Months of work ahead of me. Well live and learn, and always do backups.

    John P.
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  • Profile picture of the author valtex
    Sorry Johnpal I feel for you, I hope it does not happen to me
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  • Profile picture of the author mhuktar
    Banned
    [DELETED]
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    • Profile picture of the author Lloyd Buchinski
      Originally Posted by JohnPal View Post

      Thanks Tom,
      I already asked them for that and this was their reply:

      "The account has not participated in our backups due to iNode usage. The account consumed over 300,000 inodes at the time of our last backup."

      They only allow 50,000 iNodes. And they say it's unlimited everything, what a way to limit their unlimited-ness!!
      It's really too bad they couldn't communicate that to you when they stopped doing it. There are so many situations that would be helped by more communication. Thanks for posting this. Surprising to me. I do test backup systems occasionally because I did have one on my own computer that didn't work when I needed it, but of course that is obvious to you now.

      Originally Posted by internetmarketingiq View Post

      Most of the people saying how great HostGator is are doing it because they pay high commissions to affiliates.
      Those high commissions go along with high hosting fees, and are one of the things that have kept me away so far, but might use them yet.

      With all the free hosting options available there is a lot of downward pressure on hosting now, but HG is resisting that pretty well. Hostpc.com has plans up to the reseller plans for about a quarter of the cost.


      Originally Posted by mhuktar View Post

      Take the site offline.
      Wasn't it decent of the hackers to carry out the first step of the recovery plan?

      Pardon the kidding around, I realize the op is not in a very enjoyable situation.

      best wishes, lloyd
      .......__o
      .......\<,
      ....( )/ ( )...
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  • Profile picture of the author Tyrus Antas
    There is a solution but its really painful and might not even work: go to Archive.org and check which of your websites are archived. Proceed to save all the content you can find.

    Good luck, you're really going to need it...
    Tyrus
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  • Profile picture of the author Lloyd Buchinski
    Started thinking about this again. If they do advertise that they do backups maybe it would be worth a small claims court lawsuit, which you can do for yourself in Canada for about $30. It works for claims up to $3000. Probably something similar in the states. Even if the fine print takes that away they really should communicate with you if they stop doing it.

    At least talk to them a little more, mention you are just a tiny bit grouchy and you might accept an out of court settlement for about 400 years of free hosting.
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    • Profile picture of the author Michael D Price
      [DELETED]
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      • Profile picture of the author JohnPal
        Originally Posted by Michael D Price View Post

        Im sorry, but 300 sites on a $10 hosting account?

        You had it coming to you. For the extra $15 a month for a reseller account, you wouldnt have had that issue with hostgator.

        Thanks Michael

        Well it was the $15.00 hosting with Hostgator, nevertheless you're absolutely correct. Never put all your eggs in one basket!

        Last year I got a reseller account from super2host which was another disaster, the worst hosting company ever encountered. I couldn't log into my cPanel for months, and no respond at all from them...

        Couple of month ago I did get a new reseller account from acecomputersandmore (so far they're good) but haven't had the chance to transfer my sites there, and look what happened.

        Well as said before, live and learn, and never repeat the same mistake again.

        John P.
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    • Profile picture of the author JohnPal
      Originally Posted by Lloyd Buchinski View Post

      Started thinking about this again. If they do advertise that they do backups maybe it would be worth a small claims court lawsuit, which you can do for yourself in Canada for about $30. It works for claims up to $3000. Probably something similar in the states. Even if the fine print takes that away they really should communicate with you if they stop doing it.

      At least talk to them a little more, mention you are just a tiny bit grouchy and you might accept an out of court settlement for about 400 years of free hosting.
      Thanks Lloyd,

      You've got an interesting point here, it would be nice to have 400 years of free hosting , but personally I'm done with those types of stuff; on the long run it's not worth the effort, hassle and grievance to go through it. Will accept my losses and move on, because part of it is my fault and definitely my lesson learned. Won't be repeated again!

      Thanks,
      John
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  • Profile picture of the author danieljohansson
    Isn't Hostgator running daily backups? What about if their severs are crashing? Must be some solution for you dude!
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  • Profile picture of the author charlesburke
    Hi John,

    If you're using a webmaster or designer, they'd have backups or working files in their own computer.

    Or if you were doing all the site building yourself, where do you keep your own working files?

    That also happened to me recently, with about 20 sites turning to dust. So I took the opportunity to rework the pages of my main sites, changed to a new hosting service, then uploaded everything fresh and new from the working files on my computer.

    But let me guess - no working files - right?

    Cheers from warm and smiling Thailand,
    Charles
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    • Profile picture of the author JohnPal
      Originally Posted by charlesburke View Post

      Hi John,

      If you're using a webmaster or designer, they'd have backups or working files in their own computer.

      Or if you were doing all the site building yourself, where do you keep your own working files?

      That also happened to me recently, with about 20 sites turning to dust. So I took the opportunity to rework the pages of my main sites, changed to a new hosting service, then uploaded everything fresh and new from the working files on my computer.

      But let me guess - no working files - right?

      Cheers from warm and smiling Thailand,
      Charles
      Hello Charles,

      What a coincidence! Glad to hear from you, I was and still am one of your fans; I love your Writings, used to be on your list couple years back, but changed emails and lost your contacts.

      Seems you moved from Japan to Thailand. I will sign-up again!

      Anyway, yes I found the working files in one of my old drives, and already started working on them, hopefully within a week or so will be online.

      Thanks,
      John
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  • Profile picture of the author llfleming
    what about google cache? or some archival internet thing? how is it you don't have anything on your computer?
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  • Profile picture of the author Bright Wings
    So sorry to hear that your sites got hacked. That's why I have an assistant do full backups on ALL my sites, on a regular basis; that way, if anything happens (hacking/power outages/server hosts disappear or are held hostage by aliens -- hey maybe that's a good theme for a movie or something. . . ) I will not have lost more than a couple of days' work at most.

    Apart from doing backups and due diligence with your hosting company, are there other preventative items to do that can actually stop sites from being hacked? (This question would be addressed to any of the techie folks here I presume. . . )

    Thanks in advance -- I'm looking forward to hearing about methods that are somewhat failsafe, I suppose you could say, for hacker prevention. Maybe there is no such thing, but if there is let's share it for goodness sake!
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  • Profile picture of the author Shane Hale
    Here are some tips on protecting and recovering. I work for a major Telecom company in their Network Operations Center Fulltime and handle abuse from time to time as well as own a Web hosting company. Here are somethings I do to make sure I don't get hacked.

    Tips to reduce your chances of being hacked and how to recover when you do.

    1. Passwords passwords p455w0rD5.... If a lot of your sites use dictionary words with no caps and no or very few numbers and it may be the same one for all of you sites. Consider yourself hacked. Hackers use dictionary files of with thousands of word combinations and can brute force their way into your site.

    2. CMS content management systems such as Wordpress,Joomla ect ect. If you are mass producing sites that have these systems and you are not going in or have cron job set up to update security patches consider yourself hacked.

    It will happen. Bottom line...

    Hackers use programs that utilize black hat google searching for certain files that can be exploited and they will reset your admin password and deface or destroy your site depending on how destructive they want to be.

    3. 3rd party bots and plugins...
    This goes for Wordpress,Joomla,Mambo ect ect. You will have to make sure you keep updated on security patches on these as well.
    Sometimes a teenage programmer writes a jam up plugin we all want to use then goes off to college or on vacation for 4 years with no new updates.
    Then a flaw is found where hackers or spammers can use it to relay or do SQL injections through a form or unprotected file and get into or wreak havok on your site.

    SQL injections are usually the main way hackers can wreak havok and seems to be the poison of choice for web pages.

    3.5. Also, I am seeing plugins for Wordpress and other CMS the main way a lot of sites are getting hacked these days. Limit your plugins to trusted programmers and sites. Sometimes those Plugin WSO's seem awesome but may burn you in the long run.

    4. Also, make sure your database passwords have capital letters and number combinations.

    If you just cover those main 3 you will cut hacking down to 95%.

    Tips on Recovery

    1. Make sure your current Host is backing up every day!! Hostgator and all those sites you can host a site for 3.99 a month are great but when you lose your whole business in 24 hours to some russian teenager how great is it then?

    I charge my customers 10.00 a month but I can back them up at any giving time.

    2. You can back up your own sites via Cpanel you should have a cronjob set it will back up all your sites especially if you are a web hosting reseller. You set the time and it will send a .rar or tar file via email to a gmail backup account or to a remote site not hosted by you maybe to your own ISP provider web space via FTP. If you are not doing that then you may just lose everything.

    Hope this helps you and your sites from being hacked. It sucks to find out your $1000.00 a day weight loss site now has a image of a smiley face and some wierd language written all over the page. To your success! =)
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    • Profile picture of the author JohnPal
      Originally Posted by Shane Hale View Post

      Here are some tips on protecting and recovering. I work for a major Telecom company in their Network Operations Center Fulltime and handle abuse from time to time as well as own a Web hosting company. Here are somethings I do to make sure I don't get hacked.

      Tips to reduce your chances of being hacked and how to recover when you do.

      1. Passwords passwords p455w0rD5.... If a lot of your sites use dictionary words with no caps and no or very few numbers and it may be the same one for all of you sites. Consider yourself hacked. Hackers use dictionary files of with thousands of word combinations and can brute force their way into your site.

      2. CMS content management systems such as Wordpress,Joomla ect ect. If you are mass producing sites that have these systems and you are not going in or have cron job set up to update security patches consider yourself hacked.

      It will happen. Bottom line...

      Hackers use programs that utilize black hat google searching for certain files that can be exploited and they will reset your admin password and deface or destroy your site depending on how destructive they want to be.

      3. 3rd party bots and plugins...
      This goes for Wordpress,Joomla,Mambo ect ect. You will have to make sure you keep updated on security patches on these as well.
      Sometimes a teenage programmer writes a jam up plugin we all want to use then goes off to college or on vacation for 4 years with no new updates.
      Then a flaw is found where hackers or spammers can use it to relay or do SQL injections through a form or unprotected file and get into or wreak havok on your site.

      SQL injections are usually the main way hackers can wreak havok and seems to be the poison of choice for web pages.

      3.5. Also, I am seeing plugins for Wordpress and other CMS the main way a lot of sites are getting hacked these days. Limit your plugins to trusted programmers and sites. Sometimes those Plugin WSO's seem awesome but may burn you in the long run.

      4. Also, make sure your database passwords have capital letters and number combinations.

      If you just cover those main 3 you will cut hacking down to 95%.

      Tips on Recovery

      1. Make sure your current Host is backing up every day!! Hostgator and all those sites you can host a site for 3.99 a month are great but when you lose your whole business in 24 hours to some russian teenager how great is it then?

      I charge my customers 10.00 a month but I can back them up at any giving time.

      2. You can back up your own sites via Cpanel you should have a cronjob set it will back up all your sites especially if you are a web hosting reseller. You set the time and it will send a .rar or tar file via email to a gmail backup account or to a remote site not hosted by you maybe to your own ISP provider web space via FTP. If you are not doing that then you may just lose everything.

      Hope this helps you and your sites from being hacked. It sucks to find out your $1000.00 a day weight loss site now has a image of a smiley face and some wierd language written all over the page. To your success! =)
      Hello Shane,

      Thank you very much for your time to post all this useful information. It makes great sense, well if you ask me; this should be a sticky note for other Warriors as well.

      I already copied and printed your advice, and will implement it right away.

      Thanks again,

      John
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      • Profile picture of the author Shane Hale
        Originally Posted by JohnPal View Post

        Hello Shane,

        Thank you very much for your time to post all this useful information. It makes great sense, well if you ask me; this should be a sticky note for other Warriors as well.

        I already copied and printed your advice, and will implement it right away.

        Thanks again,

        John
        No problem John, One thing that the security nuts preach is nothing is ever 100% secure. If a host says they are turn tail and run far away from them =)
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    • Profile picture of the author delsauzo
      I think I have learnt a whole lot by just reading through this thread
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  • Profile picture of the author kobe24
    Dont worry, HostGator will do a backup and you should be able to retrieve all your websites info back as soon as they do this. Though I have seen that their customer support is not very friendly and helpful, you'll just have to be patient. Best of luck!
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  • Profile picture of the author JohnPal
    Originally Posted by AbsolutionRT View Post

    I've never heard of this happening before, usually just backs up on its own.
    Well, I used to think that way, but it happened! And could happen to anybody out there! So it's best to be prepared for the worst. Do your own back-ups and take the necessary precautions to avoid those low-life creatures out of your system.

    John
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  • Profile picture of the author Zack Lim
    Hi John,

    Thank you for sharing your experience.

    I always though that the hosting company will do at least a weekly back up and you should be able to ask them to restore it back.

    A good reminder to always back up all the files that we have.

    Zack
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    • Profile picture of the author JohnPal
      Originally Posted by Zack Lim View Post

      Hi John,

      Thank you for sharing your experience.

      I always though that the hosting company will do at least a weekly back up and you should be able to ask them to restore it back.

      A good reminder to always back up all the files that we have.

      Zack
      Hi Zack,

      I thought the same, but apparently companies like Hostgator are only interested to get the money, and forget about the service and reliability. So yes, don't ever rely on them, do your back-ups regularly before the crap hits the fan!

      John
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      • Profile picture of the author Runner26
        Yes, BACKUP is the big answer. As a web designer, I've had individual sites hacked as well as all sites on a particular Shared Server. Hosts can't be depended on for either back-ups OR bullet-proof security measures to prevent problems in the first place.

        So for those building sites, this is a huge reason to use FTP rather than a host's control panel. With FTP, you automatically have backups of the current version of pages. Maintain folders for pages, images and other files with same names as server, so they can be re-uploaded easily in case of emergency.
        Change FTP passwords when you can.

        In past year(s), hacker attacks are increasing. Some remove files, some corrupt files, and some seem to merely replace a home page just to mess with you.
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  • Profile picture of the author zeurois
    This should be a lesson for all of us, I'm doing a backup right now
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  • Profile picture of the author Hilary
    As well as using archive.org to recover pages, you can do the same with Google if you're quick enough. Google your site, view cached pages, and save them. (You need to do this before they re-index and delete the cached pages.)
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  • Profile picture of the author yezbick99
    Sorry to hear about your loss. I had a financial website that used ecurrency for payment. Someone hacked into it and I lost a lot of money.

    I eventually had to shut down the site.

    Wish you the best. Hopefully you can find a backup of your sites somewhere.

    Originally Posted by JohnPal View Post

    A nightmare or what!

    Logged in one of my sites and nothing! Logged on another, nothing again!!

    Weird! Logged via ftp and all my sites are empty! Literally wiped out!

    Logged to my cPanel, all empty! Over 300 websites, all empty, Nada All wiped out!


    Called Hostgator and they said I've been Hacked!!!

    Hello Folks,

    My very first post!

    The name is John Paloulian, from Pasadena, Sunny California, although right now to me it looks way and way too cloudy!

    Sorry for the introduction, it's obvious I'm in a deep hole... All my work of over 2 years is gone... Don't know what to do. Since morning I'm frozen in front of the computer.

    Any Suggestions!
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  • Profile picture of the author SmartTeenager
    This is a quite terrifying thread... just saying.
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  • I know you've heard this before ...

    But I am really sorry that this has happen to you. I had 2 of my sites hacked few months ago. My host were very on-the-ball. Excellent customer support. You can call any time day and night .... they went through every thing with me whilst I was on the phone to them. They also checked my permission settings whilst I was on the phone to them. They completely restored my site (all this free of charge) I recommend them to my clients all the time. They are iXwebhosting.com I have their $7.95 a month business plan.

    I have HG is good and yet to try them

    Hope you bounce back better than before.

    To your Success
    Para
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    • Profile picture of the author milkyway
      My hosting company offers DVD backups. You could check if yours does that, too. Depending on how important those sites are for your business and how much time it takes you to do a full backup, that might be worth the money in the future...

      milkyway
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      Never miss an opportunity to be fabulous.
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