Website Held for Ransom

This title may not seem fitting to those who don’t understand the dangers and evil that the internet sometimes breeds. This journey, like many others, started with a phone call.

The person on the other end of the line was Susan and said her website was no longer online. She couldn’t access it at all.

Bleeding Bulb’s customer representative asked for a more detailed explanation, but Susan had nothing else to say except that yesterday it was fine and today it showed nothing.

Our rep initially thought this might have happened due to the expiration of the hosting provider, but after a quick check, he discovered that wasn’t the issue. Susan agreed to have us look into the issue.

Our investigation revealed nothing shy of a movie scene. A hacker entered her system and encrypted all of the files. And, they left a note.

The note said, “If you want your website back you send $500 in Bitcoin to our account.”

Holy s#@&. Sorry, that was our team’s response.

The thing is people who create and spread computer viruses and hack into websites aren’t uncommon. In fact, it’s the opposite. This situation was odd because there was no need for a virus and malware scan because the files were essentially not there.

There were no signs that her developer used any security precautions in her WordPress website. Wish she’d read our article on best practices!

Back to the story.

We called Susan immediately to share our findings. We asked if she created regular backups. She didn’t think so.

Our rep paused and began to explain the situation. She was very unhappy, to say the least. She relied heavily on the website to receive business for her dog-walking company. We asked if she was paying a monthly service fee for someone to monitor hack attempts. She simply groaned.

Susan said she was offered a maintenance plan but declined because she didn’t want to continue to shell out money for something she’d already paid for. Instead of dwelling in the woulda…coulda…shoulda, the rep explained our plan for getting her back online and in front of her customers.

We scheduled a follow-up conversation the following day to discuss her requirements and start the process. She was grateful not only for us identifying and correcting her problem but also for helping her understand why security for her website is important. In fact, as we approached the finish line, she initiated the conversation about our Maintenance and Insurance Plan.

Ugly start but a great finish.

To prevent Susan’s situation from happening to you, check out our article on making your WordPress website more secure.