What a tumultuous past few months! In August, The Ramen Stand got hacked with some absolutely crippling malware originating from China and Pakistan. I was actually kind of shocked, at first, due to the fact that our readership is in the low hundreds. I didn’t think too much of it, given that my host, HostGator, had a backup of the site. How wrong I was.
Dystopian Internet Hell
It started when I received an email from a reader that the site had been compromised with pop-ups. I couldn’t see them because my ad-blocker filtered them, but sure enough, a hack had occurred. I figured it was due to an old plug-in or some such thing. It turns out that not only had my database had been hacked, but the culprit/s had also gained access to my root directory and htaccess file. I would learn later that a number of HostGator sites had been hacked due to some lackadaisical security measures taken for their shared servers, but that’s neither here nor there.
Once I learned how prevalent the hack was, I went to HostGator for assistance. They refused to speak with me about malware, instead instructing me to contact a malware removal service and virus detection agency that they had partnered with. Several months and a dozen phone calls later and I was told by the agency that, due to the nature of the hack, they could only help if I used their premium service at close to $1k/month. Now, this is a tiny site. We barely have readers, and the readers we do have are, for the most part, friends and acquaintances. So I called HostGator back up and explained the situation, and asked for assistance. They again declined to help in any way whatsoever, so I decided to take my business elsewhere.
A New, Blue Horizon
I ended up with BlueHost as my new option, mostly due to the fact that they bundle the same exact malware detection solution in with their shared server packages for a third of the cost HostGator was charging me. I stared moving my domains, a process that usually takes 3-5 days. After a WEEK of waiting for HostGator to release my domains to BlueHost, I finally called them up with a good ‘ole “what the hell.” HostGator then told me that it was BlueHost holding up the transfer and that HostGator would love for me to stay with them at a reduced rate. I laughed and probably cursed at them a bit, and again asked why my domains weren’t being released. Magically, while I was on the call, the domains went through. Seriously, within an instant of them learning that there was no way I was staying with them, the domains were released. I was finally rid of HostGator.
Of course, now that I had my new host, I needed to go about the process of rebuilding the site. Luckily, I did have several backups I made myself, but I had no access to the WordPress database that housed our comments. I’m sad that we’ve lost those, but there honestly weren’t that many to begin with, and at least the posts were saved.
So, two weeks later and I’ve got the site back up and running! Images and posts saved, the general look of the site retained, and a few tweaks and improvements on the code for responsiveness and mobility. I’m actually pretty happy with that.
I’ve also decided to strip out anything non-food-related. I’ll be moving all my videogame and entertainment stuff to a URL I acquired a few months back, punchbunny.com (punchbunny is my call sign/gamertag/ID in most gaming communities). I’m disappointed that it now looks as though there’s been a year-long gap in my upkeep of The Ramen Stand, but I assure you, that is not the case. To make up for lost time, I’ll be posting about more food related things beyond just ramen. For instance, I’ve begun testing several meal delivery plans such as Blue Apron, Chef’d, Marley Spoon, and Plated. In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting reviews of not only those services, but the meals we’ve made from them. Furthermore, there are several noodle shops that have popped up around here I’ll be reviewing.
We’re back, and we’re going to be better than ever!