Crisis management – When your web site is hacked…

Posted on: June 8, 2015

It was a sunny Sunday morning. I’d been out dancing the night before. Assuming I would spend some time leisurely reading my novel with a cup of coffee before having to start the day, I reached for my mobile phone. Yes, I check my social media accounts on waking.

I smiled at some funny animal videos from my friends on Facebook, scanned a surprising number of new blog posts from my professional contacts on LinkedIn (when did they write these? It’s SUNDAY!) and then turned to my Twitter account. And there it was. On my notifications screen. One of those messages that you can’t quite believe you are reading: “Hi Kim we met a few years ago. Came across your web site & it’s been hacked – thought you should know. Hope you can sort it”.

With my heart thumping and wondering whether this was some kind of joke I checked my site. And there – to my horror – was a menacing terrorist with a gun with an awful message threatening death to those in the West. My emotions ranged from indignation, to self-pity, to anger, to panic and then to calm. In some ways I was almost flattered that those who had hacked into the web sites of international airports and global corporates had chosen my little site.

After a few moments of thought, I pinged an email to the boss of my design and server company and also direct messages through both Facebook and Twitter. Within 15 minutes he emailed back cheerily saying that his two techies were onto it. After another 15 minutes, I had an email from one of those techies saying that they had replaced the hacker’s message with “Site under maintenance”.

I told them not to spoil their Sunday – to leave the rest until the following day. But after just two hours my site was restored. And I had an email explaining what had happened (an unused WordPress plug-in) and how to prevent it happening again. Crises over. And yes, champagne was despatched to the fabulous guys at Fresh_01 immediately.

Then I remembered what had happened when a national law firm’s web site was de-listed from Google. And when an accountancy firm had its Twitter account shut down for inappropriate material (accessed through an innocent click on a dodgy link). And when a property client found its domain name hijacked to a porn site by the son of a disgruntled partner. The impact of those crises was far more serious than mine. And the pressure from screaming seniors and upset clients was almost unbearable.

We talk a lot about disaster recovery and crisis management. But when you’re in the midst of a crisis it’s different. Emotions run high. Do you know that you could ping an email – even on a Sunday – and get an immediate fix? Are you confident that your team and providers would have the necessary resources, technical skills and incredible service attitude to instantly sort things with a smile?

This article appears as the leader in the current issue of Professional Marketing magazine http://www.pmforum.co.uk/magazine/current_issue.aspx where I am editorial consultant in chief.

Share This

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Original branding by Matt Playford · A site by Fresh01