By: Mary Fran Bontempo

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network securityDon’t these people have anything better to do?

Last week, NRFGP was hacked. As in, someone, somewhere, somehow, gained access to the site and inserted some code into the blog which was intended to do…I have no idea what, but I know it wasn’t good.

The site was blacklisted by Google. No one could access it, not even me, which I discovered when I tried to upload a new post to NRFGP only to have the site blocked by my anti-virus program. I couldn’t see it, had no idea what the problem was, and certainly no idea how to fix it, all of which simply confirmed how little I really know about the internet in the first place.

Every once in a while, I feel a little self-congratulatory. After all, I built NRFGP from nothing, along with some help from some devoted and patient friends (thank you, Chrysa and Mark Smith). I taught myself how to do almost everything necessary on the site by calling on my good friend, Google, and worked through every problem often having to decipher plain English to figure out what the heck I was doing. When I finally got the site up and running, and looking the way that I wanted, Yay! Kudos to me! Look how smart I am!

Or not. Because the one really, really important thing I apparently forgot was security, which never even occurred to me because, well, who would want to mess with a site geared towards middle-aged women? I mean, I think we’re pretty cool, but it’s not like we’re divulging state secrets or hatching the next million dollar bank scam over here.

But apparently, that doesn’t matter. Because the nasty people who spend their time creating codes to hack into websites don’t care. They don’t care what the subject matter is, they don’t care who reads it, they don’t care about anything except how to get inside of people’s computers to gain access to information.

The bugs they somehow insert are like mosquitos. You never see them coming, yet all of a sudden, you have a huge welt on your body and no idea how it got there. And until the bite clears up, it drives you crazy.

The whole experience, which took a week and hiring a web security company to clear up, was an eye-opener. Used to be security consisted of remembering to lock the house and the car, or holding your purse close to your body when you were on the street. But today’s criminals aren’t interested in getting into your house, car or purse; it’s messy and risky and offers a relatively small return on their investment of time, especially when they can sit at home and by typing some stuff into a computer, potentially gather a mother load of info that could net them big bucks.

I love communing with the world via the internet. I’ve “met” amazing people, expanded my reach as a writer, been the recipient of wonderful opportunities and learned a ton. But after this, I’m beginning to see the appeal of sending a guy into the town square with a bell and a proclamation to disseminate news. Or maybe we should all have to learn Morse code. Better yet, just give me two tin cans and a string. Let’s see the hackers interfere with that.

My mother always says she hates the internet; it’s the downfall of civilization in her mind. I used to argue with her, touting the wonders available with the click of a button. I still believe it, but there are other things that can happen with the click of a button, and some of them aren’t good.

So hear-ye, hear-ye, one and all! Lock your houses and cars, secure your purses, but most important, be sure your anti-virus programs are up to date. Because internet mosquitos are out there, and when they bite, an itch could be the least of your worries.

Have you every been “hacked?” Click “comments” below and share!