Monday, June 7. 2010
Sometime Friday afternoon tomhull.com was shut down by the hosting company, ADDR.COM. I noticed this just as I was going to post a bunch of links and notes on Israel and the Free Gaza Flotilla, so I was feeling a bit paranoid. They gave me no warning before shutting the site down, and no notice or explanation when they did. I sent the support department email, used their web interface to request a call back, and called in several times. They told me they had a report of spam being sent from my website, but offered no details, and wouldn't allow me to investigate the website. Promises to call me back and/or notify me via email were fruitless. At one point I was promised that they would open up the website "within two hours." I was temporarily able to log in, at which point I made a backup of my files and a partial backup of my database -- mysqldump ran out of memory -- and I started digging through all of the files to see what problems I could find. Ultimately, I found evidence of a problem with some very old wiki software, unused since 2003, and a problem with the blog software (serendipity, or s9y) -- still running an old version dating back to 2005. I removed the wiki software completely, fixed the known problem with serendipity, and I cleaned out all the cruft. (I had observed the same problem on another system and monitored the fix for six months, so I am pretty sure that nails it.) I sent detailed notes to ADDR and got no response. I called them again today and what they offered to do was to wipe clean my filespace and let me start all over again from my backup. I agreed to that and the website came up early this evening. So, the upshot is that the system was guilty as charged, and should be free and clear now. But it was a major hassle, and ADDR's support crew were no help whatsoever.
The trickiest part of restoring the system was reinstalling the blog software -- the one thing I couldn't backup was the config file, absence of which kicks off the install script. It ran well enough that it didn't destroy my database, but it did muck up the configuration, so I've had to hack around with that a bit -- the result is similar but not exactly the same. It also strikes me as running a bit slow. One thing that's lost (at least for now) is many years of usage statistics. I have a backup of them, so may be able to reinstall them, but I've rarely used them, so may not bother.
Lot of catching up to do now.
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