Alden Boon

My Website Was Hacked by the Same Group That Took Down Anonymous’s Website. #IHaveMadeIt

28/01/2018

The day began like any other. The second I opened my eyes, I reached for my phone. My vision still bleared, I typed in the browser’s tiny white rectangle two words: “Google anal”, allowing autocomplete to do the rest of the work for me. It was a slow day, it seemed.

After an hour of lazing in bed, I finally willed myself to get up. I made a beeline for my computer (a mere two steps away), switched on my computer. I then clicked on the Dragon Age: Inquisition icon. The next two hours or so I spent shooting fireballs and slaying spiders as well as bandits. After lunchtime I checked Google Analytics again, and something odd struck me — my visitor statistics had remained unchanged. It was abnormally low: Only seven users had visited the site (usually I would get about ten visitors clamouring to the site by this time of the day). But I thought nothing of it.

I wanted to upload a recent food video I made to YouTube as well as include a hyperlink to the article. I went to my WordPress admin page — Http error 500. Then I accessed this website, and to my horror there was an ominous picture with some foreign text and accented letters I thought were Arabic. I made a word out to be “terror”. The picture featured a crescent and a star, resembling Singapore’s flag. A terrible instrumental played automatically, exacerbating my horror. Autoplay music? My what-would-have-been ten visitors (had they not blocked my website) would think I was an ancient relic stuck in the year 1999!

Horror soon devolved into apprehension. I did not have a million dollars to surrender to the hackers. Would they take a hit out on my mother if I refused to pay the ransom? Would they threaten to hack the computers of my what-would-have-been ten visitors as well? Would I be incriminated in this cybercrime ring and be incarcerated? I cannot survive without Wi-Fi!

“Ayyıldız Tim,” read a name under the logo. In my best Bryan-Mills voice, I said: “I don’t know you, but I will find you and kill you,” my empty words scaring me a little. Like a jilted lover stalking his ex, I began Googling the name. It was a group that was founded in New Zealand. Memories of my New-Zealand trip came flooding, of Tongariro, of Hobbiton and of the friends I made during the Haka group tour, now forever tainted with the memory of this abhorrent act. It was a Turkish group… way to ruin my love for kebabs.

Desperate and hopeless, I called my sugar daddy, I mean GoDaddy. The operator was helpful and kind, and he proceeded to perform some checks. After a five-minute wait (but trust me, it felt like eternity when you are overweight the weight of the world is on your shoulders), he returned. “Your current WordPress version is 4.1; the current one is 4.4. Your plugins also seem to be outdated,” his voice suddenly laced with judgement. Well, in my defence, I had just binge-watched Black Mirror, and I knew what evils would befall us if we were to embrace technology, and so I deliberately chose not to “update” and feed into this slow but growing threat. At his behest, I signed up for the two-year Security Essentials package, which came up to about one hundred and sixty dollars. Believe me, it was a small price to pay; the alternative being a million dollars.

Late last year I almost died, and today my website was hacked. Me, a small fry in this big, big world, targeted by an international hacker group that was behind high-profile attacks of Anonymous’s website; the websites of the Syrian government and Israel’s embassies; and now, nedla magazine (I will be sure to namedrop the last one in its Wikipedia page, which is written in Turkish and not Arabic). My thirties, unlike the backwater that is my twenties, have been rather eventful.

The reality is sobering. Thank you, Ayyıldız Tim, I now know that I am important, and worthy of the title “influencer”.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alden Boon
Alden Boon is a Quarter-finalist in PAGE International Screenwriting Awards. When he's not busy writing, he pretends he is Gandalf.

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