The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Hackers, spam and a glimpse of our garden

garden June 2008We’ve had major problems with the Cottage Smallholder website.

Over the past ten days we’ve been 24/7 at the rock face with just enough time to write a post and then rushing back to try and sort out the problems. No time to visit other blogs or even keep up to date with comments on this site. Many apologies.

Hackers had managed to gnaw their way in, insertng extra paragraphs packed with links on some of my posts. Luckily this somehow disabled comments on the affected posts. We were bemused and finally discovered the rogue comments when we viewed the posts in html format.

We quickly deleted their additions but they kept on coming back.

Since then Danny has been beavering away, backing up the site, blocking up loopholes and installing the latest upgrades of the software that we use. Both of us have been searching for invaders. Last night we discovered they had infiltrated the day’s post and the next one that was waiting in the wings to go up. I finally lost it and burst into tears.

D grabbed his virtual toolkit – the special one with increased voompf. Today we reckon that D has cracked it and think that we are now finally secure.

We have a spam filter installed on the site and this catches an average of 80 spam comments a day. I’ve habitually cleaned out the filter daily. We prefer not to just delete them unseen as one in a hundred is a genuine comment. The checking operation can take twenty minutes or so. The majority of the spam is promoting porn or pharmaceutical sites, or both.
“If you take this you can have more of that . . .”
It’s tawdry and depressing and, without the spam filter, I would have lost heart and given up blogging months ago like so many boggers have done in the past.

Spam – ghastly when it referred to cheap tinned pink meat that was served with school dinners in the sixties. Now a different sort of nightmare.

Give me the canned stuff any day. I’d eat it regularly if it meant that it didn’t have to go through the spam and hacker attacks.


  • Remember to back up your site regularly (we didn’t – just too big. We’ve done it now).
  • Keep your eyes peeled for anything unusual (we did).
  • Upgrade your software each time a new release is issued. (we didn’t – too much hassle. Now we’ll upgrade every time).

If you do the last two hackers probably won’t target you as each upgrade tackles new security issues and we have discovered that they target sites that are using old software versions with known ‘holes’.

If hackers do squirm their way in and you have backed up regularly, you will be able to get back on the scene in hours rather than days.

  Leave a reply


  1. ultraviolette

    So sorry to hear (read) of your computer troubles.
    One would think there are more important things to do in life to keep one busy enough.
    This is a wonderful site and I would hate to lose it.
    I could browse and read here all day.

    Keep on fighting the good fight 🙂

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Ryan

    Yes, I agree most of the Blogger sites look so similar. That’s what attracted me to WordPress. It’s a shock when I find someone using the same theme!

    Hackers are addicted to finding a way in. Why else would someone spend time on forcing a way into someone else™s space? If they do Google eventually closes the feeds and listings from the site. So it can’t be for exposure.

  3. “The thing about Blogger is that most of the sites look so similar. WordPress has millions of free ˜themes™ available which can be customised quite easily.”

    True, that’s also one of the key reasons WordPress is compromized so easily. All those “free” themes and plugins are written in php which can be very insecure depending on the author of the code. At least with Blogger or you don’t have to worry about that. With host your own WordPress though, it’s a crapshoot.

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