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August 17, 2008

More frustrations with web infrastructure

As I mentioned in my previous post, the hardest part of recovering from the recent hacking attack has been the lack of process and procedures in place by many of the "utilities" we depend on to use the web.  In this post, I am going to highlight two specific examples:

1. Go Daddy - the hackers best friend. The reason it took so long for my domain to point to my blog after the attack was due to Go Daddy.  The fact is my domain should never had been pointed away from my blog. My domain registered through Go Daddy was supposed to be locked.  In fact it was. I received an email Sunday morning that my domain had been moved from locked to unlocked. This was when I first became aware of what was going on. I immediately called Go Daddy (to be fair, Go Daddy was one of the only companies that had 24 hour phone support) and told them I did not give my permission to unlock my domain, I was under attack and to lock it down and let no changes happen.

I was assured by the Go Daddy tech support person that this is exactly what they were doing and not to worry, Go Daddy was on the job.  In fact he sent me a customer satisfaction survey to fill out about how Go Daddy had thwarted this attempt to hijack the domain. Wong!  When I called Go Daddy back later that afternoon (always double check that these companies are doing what they claim they are going to do, don't trust them to follow through without you staying on top of it), it was as if I had never called that morning.  By that time the contacts on my domain were changed.  When I finally got a supervisor (ask for the supervisor quickly, don't insult the first level guy, just explain that you are going to need a supervisor for this emergency) on the phone it was too late for that. No I had to go to the "undo" department.  By now it was Sunday night and the undo department is only in during normal business hours, so I had to wait till the next day.

The undo department has no phone and you can only communicate via email.  In spite of everything I showed them about my situation, they were writing to the hackers to "hear there side of it", as if this was some run of the mill dispute over who owned a domain.  All through Monday I literally had to call every hour to keep this moving.  Getting a supervisor and making them walk down to the undo department.  Finally,  by Tuesday morning, after lots of help from some contacts in the blog world (thanks Jennifer L), Go Daddy finally put through to give me control back of the domain.  Than it takes 24 hours to 48 hours for DNS to update.  If not for the help and the constant calling it take up to a week for this process!

That is just bull.  Go Daddy and others in this position should do better. Having an undo department is commendable. If they would have taken more than a minute to actually look into the facts here and heaven forbid get on a phone, this could have been taken care of in 5 minutes.

2.Typepad - Again Typepad offers no phone support whatsoever. So I followed the process and sent an email to open a ticket.  I explained that my blog had been compromised as well as the contact email address. I needed to either have the blog shut down or I needed new passwords and usernames set up.  So what did the Typepad tech support do?  They sent new passwords to the compromised email box!  Finally, my friends at Feedburner reached out to their friends at Typepad and someone from Typepad called my from home and helped me out.  So I owned my blog by Sunday night, though the domain was now pointed somewhere else. 

I don't know what I would have done without the Feedburner help.  Typepad needs to offer some sort of process for this type of situation if they are going to be a quality host going forward.

Another failure of Typepad is their back ups.  Many of you have commented that many posts from February to August are missing from my blog.  The thoughtful hackers tried to save some of my storage space by deleting these posts :-(  I have been assured by Typepad that everything on these blogs are kept in a database which is backed up regularly.  Great, right? Wrong.  Though it is supposedly backed up, there is no real way to restore the posts.  The Typepad team is supposedly working on how to accomplish this.  They are busy and will try to get to it and I am patient.  But waiting a week for a back up restore seems a bit much.  What do you think? I would pay extra for a real back up service for my blog with a restore feature.  This seems easy enough, what is the story?

Tomorrow I will talk about the biggest problem I have had with web providers in this adventure: Yahoo!


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