I’m back – and certified virus free!

Those of you that read my blog regularly, either at the main sowen.com site or through feeds at planet.nottinghack.org.uk, may have noticed I’ve been very quiet for the last couple of months.  Some of you have even noticed that my site had been infected with nasty gremlins.  Well, here’s what happened;

Some nice little Russian software vendors wanted a way to reach a larger audience, and found a loophole in my websites security that allowed some visitors to my site to be redirected to their site.  As it happens, their site either doesn’t exist, or is blacklisted by all the ISPs I’ve tested with, but that’s not the point.  The point is that when I went direct to my site, it was fine.  Everything looked as it should, and worked normally.  Visitors coming in from Google, or other search engines, however, were sent off to Russia.  Google realised what was going on, and I found that sowen.com was on their blacklist!

I spent time cleaning the site, running checks, installing updates, resubmitting it to Google, and generally pulling my hair out.  Despite my attempts at fixing things, I just couldn’t get Google to recognise it as clean.  So, all that time I didn’t want to add any more posts to the blog because that just causes embarrassment when I tell people I’ve got a new update.

Eventually I had to concede that I wasn’t able to fix things myself.  So I turned to the clever bods over at Nottingham Hackspace and asked for help.  I owe big thanks to all those that offered help, but most of all to Marcus.  He found the .htaccess that had a conditional redirect in it that was causing all the grief.

I’m proud to say that I’ve been virus free for over 3 days now, and Google has removed me from their blacklist.  Security has been improved on too so I shouldn’t be in this position again.  I’m now ready to start turning all the mental blogging I’ve done in the last two months in to real blogging!

Thanks again to those that pointed out the problem and the good guys at Nottingham Hackspace.  I’m sorry if any of you have been worried that you could have been infected (I’m assured that you couldn’t), and I’m sorry for the lack of updates recently.