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How It Is

Whose Fault Is The Hack?

Who’s fault is it, exactly?

Your site was hacked.

Welcome to the worst day of your webmastering career. This is worse than the time you accidentally rebooted the server in the middle of processing the largest orders ever. This is worse than the time you cowboy coded something stupid at 1am on your phone from the bar. This is worse than the time you typed rm -rf ./* in the wrong window. This is worse than the time your credit card expired and you put off fixing it in the billing system until your site was down.

Why? It’s worse because you have no idea what the hell just happened, why, or who to blame.

Let me tell you who to blame.

Your Web Software Your Web Software

Oh yes. They are to blame. They left you vulnerable. They made it all sound so super easy and simple that you installed a site and walked away, assuming all was well. They didn’t push those security updates like they promised and they left you ready to be hacked!

Except… Did you update everything promptly? Did you use the code only in the ways it was intended? Did you add on extensions that weren’t vetted by security experts. Did you limit the administrative access to your site to only people who knew how to do things and what was, and was not, safe?

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Your Web Host Your Web Host

Can’t forget these idiots, right? They’re supposed to be locking your server down for your own protection and making sure no one can see anything. They take care of everything, like server updates and network upgrades and those zero-day SSL alerts. Clearly they dropped the ball.

Except … Did the OS they’re using actually push the update needed for security? Did they not and now your host had to decide if they fork and support more or they wait and only support the legit things? One is getting you fixed faster, but it’s also making it harder to make sure all security patches are applied. Oh and hey, there are 40 other people on your slice of the network, and one of them has a down-time requirement. And did you remember to only use the secure access to your server? Did you maybe, the one time, turn on FTP (even though they told you not to) and use a clear-texted password?

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Yours Yours

Hey you. If you can’t tell… The answer is it’s everyone’s fault.

Of course everyone can do better to make the world more secure, but we have to accept the fact that it’s not ever any one person’s fault. Very few bits of code are written by one person and never looked at. Very few situations are clearcut. We forget to lock the door, we leave a window cracked, we assume and don’t check.

But at the end of the day, the fault for our hacks lies on the person who cares the most when the hacks happen. If your website is your life, if it’s the way you make business and survive, you cannot just take it all on a hope and prayer that you got it right. And if the effort of upkeep and maintenance is too much, you’ll have to compensate with paying for experts who do that.

The fault is ours.