THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS EVE DAY
Friday night before Christmas eve day around 9 pm, I received a frantic phone call from my sales manager who had just gone to our website. ”I can’t push the button”, she said, “the website won’t open”.
“What are you talking about?” I inquired. “We have been working on this program since this past April. We finally got our first customer to sign up and now you’re saying you can’t push the button for them to start?”
“Yeah”, she continued, quite disturbed, “this really weird sign comes up when I try to go to the site and it won’t let me in. I can’t believe it. We finally are ready and NOW there is a problem.”
“Calm down, don’t’ worry”, I tried to reassure her as well as myself. “What do I do now?”, I thought to myself. Then I said, “I will look into this. Just relax and I will get back to you”.
MACS DON’T GET VIRUSES
We hung up. I was much more disturbed than I let on. After all, ‘Macs don’t get viruses’ so I could not imagine what the problem was. As soon as my husband got home, I told him about the situation. He went on to his computer and sure enough something was quite wrong. He got a Christmas present but of a very different sort when he went to our website. He was ‘treated’ to two different X-rated sites when he attempted to open our site. They came and went very quickly but it was clear what they were, where they came from and that they did not belong on our computer.
THEY GET MALWARE
By then I knew we really were in serious trouble. “How far has this problem gone?” I did not even know what to call it. After all ‘Macs DON’T get viruses’. I tried to get onto my site and saw a full-page red warning with a reference to something called ‘Malware’. The sign indicated that I was warned not to enter my site because doing so might infect my computer.
It was the same warning my sales manager had gotten on her computer, the same warning I had gotten attempting to open our sites and finally the warning my husband had gotten on his computer after his brief, X-rated experience. So, I sighed heavily as I asked myself nervously, “What do I do, now?”
WARNING: SOMETHING’S NOT RIGHT HERE!
I returned to my web page with great trepidation and read the warning carefully. It read, ‘Warning: Something’s Not Right Here! ’. Google had detected ‘Malware’ and if I insisted upon continuing to enter the site, I might encounter a ‘virus’. “But Macs don’t get viruses”, I repeated to myself. This had become my Apple mantra since my first Apple purchase more than twenty years ago. From that time on, I just never worried when the entire PC world was getting viruses because I was unaffected.
Well obviously something WAS wrong, call it ‘malware’ or a possible ‘virus’ warning, I could not ignore it. A link on the intense red warning page that, ‘SOMETHING WAS WRONG’, led me to a Google page that explained what to do next. It provided an html code that I was to upload onto my server. I did that.
CHRISTMAS EVE DAY
Then when nothing changed, I called my hosting provider for help. It was 5 o’clock Saturday morning. They searched my deluxe server where our websites reside. One site seemed to have been ‘hacked’ due to ‘a weak password’. A ‘bot’ had entered the site as a result of this and the ‘treat’ my husband got was the immediate but temporary result of that. The longer-term possibility was that a virus might ensue. The other immediate and MOST serious problem was that NO ONE could safely enter our sites. Instead they were privy to this horrific red page warning them NOT to go any further because ‘Warning: Something’s Not Right Here!‘.
It was distressing, embarrassing and a gigantic nuisance. Our hosting company recommended a monthly protection program. It would scan for malicious activity daily to prevent it from entering our server and thus our sites in the future. Then we were told we would still need to get some sort of virus detection/prevention program for our computers as a whole. After a search for a program that was specifically Mac friendly, my husband found one, Intego. We downloaded a trial version. It went through each of the sites to detect where the virus was. This took hours and hours and hours. We finally found it on Christmas day.
But that was NOT the end of it. We then had to go back to Google, the provider of the original ominous red-paged warning, that ‘Warning: Something’s Not Right Here!‘. We had to indicate to them that the malware had been detected and removed. They notified us that the barrier to our sites could take weeks to remove but more likely it would be sooner. That was a less than reassuring response.
THE DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS
To our great relief, by the next day, our sites were cleared of the warning and free of any Malware or potential viruses. So now each time I go on the computer, if the Intego program is turned on, I frequently get a little yellow warning roadblock like sign. It asks me if I want to continue. With a relieved conscience, I indicate that I want to because I know this means that proceeding is safe and the way is clear.
THE PROBLEM AND HOW TO SOLVE IT
I supposed the ‘last thing I wanted for Christmas’ present did have a valuable lesson attached to it. From that experience we learned the following:
• what the problem was, hacking into one of our sites due to a weak password
• how to diagnose it, Intego, a Mac friendly an-anti virus scanning program
• how to prevent it in the future, a web hosting monthly protection plan
• how to get the ugly red warning sign removed, contact Google and get clearance from them
All is well once again. But I realized that if someone had asked me, “What is the last thing you want for Christmas?” I now know what to say. It is something that I had not even known existed a week before. It is called, ‘Malware’.
About Alison Gilbert
Through decades as an entrepreneur, I developed ventures in over a half a dozen industries including HEALTH FOOD | GRAPHIC DESIGN | BUSINESS PROMOTION | HOLISTIC HEALTH | DECORATIVE PAINTING | SOCIAL MEDIA | PUBLIC SPEAKING | WRITING. Eventually under the umbrella of ALISON*S ART, INC, they evolved into the dba MARKETING BYTES, a hybrid company specializing marketing small business using social media marketing and traditional graphic design services. Currently retired, I am focusing on teaching social media marketing graphic design and visual journalism. I can be messaged through www.facebook.com/alisondgilbert and tweeted @MktngBytesMaven and @AlisonsArt.