So you might have noticed I was hacked prettily nastily on this site and a couple of others. I’d taken my eye off the ball and not done a really close inspection of my WordPress installs in a while, as well as being a bit lax in updating the moment a new version was out.

So What Actually Happened?

A couple of files have been snuck into theme and plug-in directories that allowed upload and editing of other files. If you find the files r.php or temp.php anywhere in your WordPress install you might want to check on them.

Through these, a file called function.php was added, full of evals and base_64 encrypted code. The regular WordPress functions.php and load.php had been modified to include the function.php file. This then replaced the normal blog content with all manner of spam.

The Cleanup

With the help of the fine folks at Sucuri, all the corrupted files were put back to normal and the backdoors plugged. I also deleted all unused themes & plugins (unfortunately the otherwise very useful Dreamhost One Click Installs do litter the place with “extras” you might neither want nor need).

For anyone investigating similar hacks, the Linux command to find recently edited files is find . -mtime -1. This will show you anything edited in the last day (replace the 1 with a different number to give different number of days). Though there are ways around the Linux file times, a cron job checking for recently modified files is helpful to keep an eye on things.

Useful Links

Dear Bloglines,

Much as it does feel something of a relief that you seem to have zero-counted some of the feeds I read, I can’t help feeling that I’m missing out. If this was an accident, I suggest you fix the bug asap.

Meanwhile I’ll enjoy my holiday and try not to worry about the fact that I won’t even know what I’ve been missing anymore…


Really quick question, folks: Why do you read this blog?

I’m really interested in whether people are mainly here for the blogmarks or the “real” entries (i.e. the longer posts). Quite often blogmarking feels like cheating, but if it’s really what people find valuable I won’t feel as bad about doing it 😉

Please please de-lurk and post a comment, letting me know the primary reason you’re here. It doesn’t need to be “blogmarks vs real entries”, but I would particularly like that datapoint in addition to whatever else you have to say.

I’ve just launched a new blog — Geek | Manager. In a similar move to Ben, I’ve decided to separate out a “vertical” blog, talking about technology and management. I’ll continue to post the more random things here, along with the blogmarks, but for those of you who enjoy my tech/management posts, I’d suggest you subscribe to the Geek | Manager feed.

The first post is all about how email blitzes can really help to increase your daily productivity. Head on over and take a look — I’d love to know what you think.

I am such a fangirl. I just noticed that Mark Pilgrim has my delicious links on his blogroll and I totally squeaked. How sad is that? And I just used the word “totally” in a sentence, just like I was a character from Buffy or something. What is the world coming to?

Kathy Sierra has written an interesting response to the 5 things meme that has been floating around recently. Instead of answering the meme, she’s turned it ask her readership some questions. I’m going to answer them here because it gives me more space than in the comments 😉

0) What’s your name and website URL? (optional, of course)
Meri Williams

1) What’s the most fun work you’ve ever done, and why? (two sentences max)
Solving problems with a great team. I find that what I enjoy most is the “flow state”, bouncing ideas off smart people to solve difficult problems.

2) A. Name one thing you did in the past that you no longer do but wish you did? (one sentence max)
Ride my motorbike every day.

B. Name one thing you’ve always wanted to do but keep putting it off? (one sentence max)
Learn to snowboard.

3) A. What two things would you most like to learn or be better at, and why? (two sentences max)
I’d like to get better at coding again — I’m horribly out of practice and feel like I’m losing a valuable skill.
I’d also like to learn more about statistics, because it’s the one area of mathematics I’m really not great at.

B. If you could take a class/workshop/apprentice from anyone in the world living or dead, who would it be and what would you hope to learn? (two more sentences, max)
Nelson Mandela, to learn compassion. Anyone who can sit in prison for 26 years and come out the other end still loving and believing in humanity has a lot to teach.

4) A. What three words might your best friends or family use to describe you?
Confident, clever, pragmatic.

B. Now list two more words you wish described you…
Sociable, talented.

5) What are your top three passions? (can be current or past, work, hobbies, or causes– three sentences max)
Diversity — I passionately believe that you need a mix of different people, cultures and opinions to be successful.
Problem solving — I love fixing things/making them work better.
Guns — I love my guns.

6) (sue me) Write–and answer–one more question that YOU would ask someone (with answer in three sentences max)
Q: What is your favourite movie and why?
A: Addams Family Values, because it is camp, hilarious and a great lesson in how even families that seem really strange from the outside can still be loving.

I rather like the 5 things meme that is going around at the moment, so I’m going to take Eric Meyer’s open tag as an excuse to participate 😉

Admittedly, I found this quite hard to do — different groups of friends know very different things about me. There are various things that would be a real surprise to work friends that are identifying characteristics to my web friends and vice versa. So I’m just going to do my best here!

Five things you might not know about me:

  1. When I was at school, I helped build part of South Africa’s first satellite. I also helped to develop the method by which we tracked and evaluated the results.
  2. I am a crack shot, best with handguns and assault rifles, although I do like to play with the occasional sniper rifle too. My parents are opposed to firearms and would never have one in the house, so I learnt to shoot when I join the target shooting team in highschool.
  3. My first big career direction decision had me choosing between going to study Computer Science (my eventual choice), Classics (Latin & Ancient Greek) or attending Film School.
  4. For a few years I was half of a soft rock duo. My primary contribution was song-writing and backing guitar.
  5. Growing up, I was extremely short-sighted, to the extent that I would walk into walls if I tried to go anywhere without my glasses on. After many years wearing contact lenses, they damaged my eyes, so I had to stop playing waterpolo. To remedy this, I had laser eye surgery, which gave me 20/20 vision for the first time in my life.

I’m going to tag Elly, Rachel, Simon, Guy and Nat. Oh and Mili too.