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When Your Management Blog Gets Hacked

By | Blog, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Shortly after my last post, my website got hacked. At first, it seemed like a minor glitch: Visitors clicking from google would be redirected to a harmless directory site. However, I was rather occupied with significant business travel, while also relocating my family. I simply didn’t have the time to investigate it. Well, it snowballed into a full-blown crisis, and I re-learned some old management lessons along the way:

Lesson 1: Root Cause Analysis. I consult and train and advice people on the “5 whys” technique, but this time it got personal. Here’s why:

The hackers likely got in through an outdated plugin, BECAUSE the plugins were not updated to the latest versions,

BECAUSE my technophile webhost (Dreamhost.com) does not auto-update the latest versions of WordPress blogging software I use,

BECAUSE my technophile webhost is designed for people who are sufficiently on their technical game to do those update themselves, which did not happen,

BECAUSE I did not do those updates,

BECAUSE I am lame.

When YOU are the root cause of operational or project failure, it can be very personal.

Lesson 2: Always have a backup plan. As I was cleaning out all the corrupted files, I inadvertently deleted all my blog photos. Fortunately, Dreamhost has a restore feature that allowed me to recover those files. THEN, when I moved my blog to WordPress, the change in DNS entries caused my emails to get lost. Fortunately, I had alternate emails that people could use to contact me…and…fortunately, those emails were setup for most of my online services. But in reality, my good fortune was made possible by a little backup planning. I chose my webhost based on its multi-restore features, and I chose my emails to be redundant in case I lost access to them.

Lesson 3: Adapt to the changing reality.  I’ve been a customer of Dreamhost.com forever, but it’s time for me to move on. If I am the root cause of this failure, then I need to resolve the risk of causing this same thing from happening again. Dreamhost is a web host designed for technical people who know how to “ssh into a bash shell and grep for which files contain strange commands”. That used to be me 10 years ago, but not anymore. As a father of three, business coach, and entrepreneur, I’m not longer the geek-o-phile I used to be. So, I’ve moved my blog over to wordpress.com, where it’s a little bit more automated and idiot-proof.

In the end, management theory only matters when it has impact on the real world. This time around, I have been taking my own medicine. QUESTION: how about you? When have you had to take your own management or leadership advice?