16+1 lessons I learned from my hacked blog

LGR Hacked
LGR Hacked

A few days ago, Stratos’ Sphere was hacked, or “defaced”. I’m guessing that’s what it was, because the attached image was what visitors would see, instead of my blog. This was quite ironic, actually, since I had just attended a security seminar (at work) where the “I’m safe because I’m small” attitude was found to be one of the most frequent reasons leading to hacked sites.

Here’s my account of what I had done wrong to end up with a hacked blog and what I did wrong while trying to recover, which may help others to avoid this situation or to make a faster and easier comeback.

To set the premise, let me point out that my blog is self-hosted and that I’m using a shared hosting service. I have my own domain name and I’m using cpanel in order to manage the hosted domain. So, what are the lessons I’ve learned?

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Make your blog super fast with W3 Total Cache plugin

I have recently installed the W3 Total Cache plugin, and it has made a tremendous difference. I have no specific metrics, but the feeling I have is as if it loads at least three times faster!! WOW!

What makes the biggest contribution is CDN (content delivery network), which I set up on a subdomain. It is not the easiest thing to do and it took a couple hours of tweaking to get it just right. I mostly followed the instructions found here:

I also got some hints from How To Install W3 Total Cache Tutorial – Setup Guide and How To Install W3 Total Cache 0.9 Setup Guide.

In order to make it work for me, I specifically did the following things slightly differently:

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How to set up “Your Own URL Shortener” (YOURLS)

Keeping up appearances

There was something that annoyed me for some time: whenever I tried to copy-paste an Internet address written in Greek, the copied text would not appear in Greek; it would appear in some weird coding, where non-Latin characters were replaced by the ASCI code equivalent of the characters. That would (a) take up too much space and (b) appear gibberish and no-one could tell what it meant.

For example, what do you make of the following mess?

Original:

https://laspas.gr/2010/02/04/βιταμίνη-d3-το-καλύτερα-κρυμμένο-μυστικ/

Copy-pasted:

https://laspas.gr/2010/02/04/%ce%b2%ce%b9%cf%84%ce%b1%ce%bc%ce%af%ce%bd%ce%b7-d3-%cf%84%ce%bf-%ce%ba%ce%b1%ce%bb%cf%8d%cf%84%ce%b5%cf%81%ce%b1-%ce%ba%cf%81%cf%85%ce%bc%ce%bc%ce%ad%ce%bd%ce%bf-%ce%bc%cf%85%cf%83%cf%84%ce%b9%ce%ba/

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