Monday, 17 March 2014

A Hack attack and a Service failure, not good ;)

Situation report for the last 3 weeks

What an interesting 3 weeks it's just been - interesting, that is, in the Scottish-curse sense of the word (although Wikipedia calls it "the Chinese curse")

First off, all of a sudden all my IFTTT recipes promoting Zazzle products stopped working, virtually overnight. At the same time as this disaster, a virtual webserver, hosted by Go-Daddy and shared between me and three other business colleagues, got hacked.

At first, it was just my websites. I thought I found and fixed the vulnerability but either it wasn't what I thought it was or they also managed to drop off a back door. Once I'd deleted and re-uploaded clean files (without the vulnerability), all was ok for a while and then it was re-hacked.

I thought I might have been careless and left something behind, so I made sure everything on the server was gone before re-uploading my sites (I never download and anyway, random sampling and the date and time stamps of my local files confirm they are ok).

Anyway, they got hacked again and this time web sites of my colleagues got hacked as well, with the same symptoms as mine. I'm not one of these computer-whizzes - I struggle a lot to achieve the small things I manage to get working ;)

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

So not understanding why all my IFTTT recipes suddenly stopped promoting my Zazzle gear, I appealed to their tech support - why all of a sudden on the 26th? Had they done anything? They showed a little willing but weren't of any help.

Sleeves rolled up and after 3 weeks of probing both Yahoo (I use their Pipes product to manipulate Zazzle RSS Feeds to make them sing and dance) and IFTTT, with Yahoo Customer Care on Twitter deaf to my pleas for help and IFTTT tech support being next to useless, I got to he bottom of it.

Long story short (and not to bore you with details of the hundreds of pipe and recipe manipulations that got me there) I worked out what they'd done. On the 26th they made a change to the way their Feed trigger channel works - maybe it was a bandwidth thing or an unintended side-effect of something else they were doing?

Whatever it was, the end result is that their mechanism automatically filters out feed items with a PubDate of earlier than 2014(exact date?). This combines with how Zazzle feeds are often used (and with the way I nearly always use them) to make it look like the recipes were broken - their action channels just weren't being triggered.

You see, I nearly always promote the most popular items in various niches and it just so happens that the most popular tend to have been around a long time - long enough to give them a date made / posted for sale in Zazzle (i.e. PubDate in the feed item) of earlier than 2014.

End result, IFTTT was ignoring everything in my feed and so never triggering the various recipes' action channels.

I've explained the above to IFTTT tech support but haven't yet heard back (since I sent the email it's only been half a working day for them so far).

So, I revisited my pipe and set the pubdate of every item in it to today's (ie when the pipe is run) date
Anyway, that solved the IFTTT problem.

One hack attack to go, please

Just have to liaise with my colleagues on the hack attack and see what we can do to disinfect ourselves and stop it happening again.

Happy days :)

comments, likes, +1s, tweets are always welcome! :)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comment moderation is switched on. Please wait till I've had a chance to review your comment and publish it. Thanks!