Collective effort restores David Airey.com

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Three days ago, I reported on a Gmail security flaw resulting in the theft of my domain name.

Today, I am delighted, humbled, and relieved to say that davidairey.com is back in my possession. I’ve been overwhelmed with the response, and can’t thank you all enough for your help.

Soon after publishing my story, I found I was receiving floods of visitors from NYTimes, Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Lifehacker and many other online sources.

ICDSoft.com

50,000 daily visitors crashed my web server, but only for a short time as ICDSoft (my web host) was very helpful. The ICDSoft team worked outside the normal remit of their services to change my previous article from a dynamic PHP web page to a static HTML web page, setting a rewrite rule to redirect all visitors to the latter. This greatly reduced the server load, allowing my shared server hosting plan to cope with the influx. (Here’s a 25% discount on hosting with ICDSoft.)

How did I get my domain back?

After reading my story, some of you contacted me, saying that you know the CEO of GoDaddy.com, Bob Parsons, and that you would get in touch with him, asking if he could help.

Bob Parsons

Soon after, I was contacted by Karen, one of Bob’s very friendly and helpful colleagues, asking me to complete an Undo of Change request form. This involved me supplying an image of my drivers license for photographic ID, and hand signing the form, then emailing a scan. The completed document would allow GoDaddy to negate the transfer process that took my domain name from ICDSoft to their systems. The form said to allow three business days for an intitial response, but some email ping-pong during the last few hours resolved the process much faster. For this I am very grateful. Thank you Karen.

I was requested to open a free account with GoDaddy, and supply them with my customer account number. This I did, and soon after I was again the rightful owner of davidairey.com.

Update: April 1st 2011
I ended-up storing 10-15 domains in my GoDaddy account, but I’ve since moved away from the company, mainly for this reason.

I accept my share of the responsibility

I’ve read on other websites that I deserved what I got, and that using Google’s free Gmail service for business is naive. Perhaps. I hate shifting blame onto another person or organisation, but here’s the crux: I’m almost sure my story wouldn’t have received the attention it did if the headline read something like:

“My naivety allows hacker to steal domain”

Isn’t this (below) more newsworthy?

Google’s Gmail security failure leaves my business sabotaged

I’ve been picking-up copywriting tips over the past year, and although I have a lot to learn, I reckon I put them to good use (thanks Brian).

I chose to use my blog against a criminal, and if that made it sound like I was pointing the finger of blame, so be it.

What about the cracker?

No, not a Christmas pun. I’ve been informed that cracker is the correct term for the criminal who stole my domain name:

“Just to let you know, the filthy person who did this to you is referred to as a “cracker” not a “hacker”. A hacker is someone who tweaks things to their purposes. A cracker is a low-life who attacks other people with malicious intent. There is a big difference.”

Many of you have been digging around the net, searching for clues and pointers as to who/where this thief is. You’ve used the cracker’s email address I supplied, posing as potential buyers of my domain name to glean more personal info.

It seems the thief has been selling stolen domain names for some time, advertising his loot on various web forums. The consensus sets the physical location as Iran, which ties-in with the Persian language used for certain email addresses. There has been so much information flooding in that it’s fair to say I’m not the only one attacked by this miscreant.

During the next week or two I’ll be sifting through it all, and will decide on further action.

What’s of more immediate concern is this… If you have any SEO advice on how to prevent further damage to my search rankings, I’d be extremely grateful.

How do I halt the damage to my search rankings?

With control over both davidairey.com and davidairey.co.uk, the question now is which one should I use as my primary address?

Perhaps it doesn’t even matter which one I use, providing a permanent 301 redirect is set from one to the other. I’ve found that a UK-based Google search for David Airey lists me higher now (with the .co.uk) than it did with the .com. Given that my local market is in the UK, the right move could be to remain with the .co.uk, rather than revert. Not sure.

I’m guessing the next step is to set my .com address to a 301 redirect to the .co.uk.

My htaccess file (which I’m not too clued-up about) is available for you to look at, and in the short-term, at least those previously referred .com visitors are arriving once more.

Any help at all would be superb, although I feel as if you’ve already done more than enough.

Thank you very much

When something like this happens, you don’t expect so many people to offer their help.

It’s testament to the good-will of the blog community that this situation is well on the way to recovery. In fact, the criminal has opened my website up to a whole new audience, who I otherwise wouldn’t have reached. If you believe there’s anything I can do to help you in return, don’t hesitate to contact me, and I’ll respond as soon as possible.

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201 comments

  1. Happy to see it’s back again… and that you could get new visitors through the media coverage…

  2. That’s great news David – and so cool that you managed to get on the NYTimes with the story.
    I would probably agree with the .co.uk domain as being your base – as it’s true that your primary logo design customers are from the UK, and it would make more sense if you ranked higher in Google.co.uk.

  3. Thanks Sam.

    Adnan,

    I was surprised, to say the least, when I saw visitors arriving from the New York Times website. I hope you’re keeping well.

  4. Mads Kjaer

    I’m glad you got your domain name back.

    Use the .co.uk domain name for now. Most of your customers are from the UK, so it’ll be a lot easier for them to find you in UK search engines. Of course, if you want more international work, you should probably go with your .com name.

  5. I’m not so sure, I would keep the .com, you can still get good rankings on .co.uk

  6. Good for you. I guess no more free emails for your portfolio huh?

    err.. why not just set one of the two servers (.com and .co.uk) as a mirror? That way you’ll be able to withstand digg-rape. Costly but with your site’s new found popularity, less downtime.

  7. Hey David! Excellent – I posted some SEO advice about transferring your link Juice – about maybe 10 – 15 mins before you put this post out!!! I think its waiting moderation – so ignore it and here are the two most useful links.

    Start the FULL SEO process to get the .co.uk juiced up for your SEO positions:
    http://www.seomoz.org/blog/hey-google-im-over-here-a-301-experiment
    http://www.seomoz.org/blog/whiteboard-friday-movin-on

    If You still unsure, give me a shout and we can work through it. I am sure hundreds of others will want to help…

  8. Fantastic news that the .com has been returned to it’s rightful owner. The whole experience has left an unpleasant taste in the mouth and serves as a reminder to everyone to lock everything down. Sorry it happened to you.

    Personally I would run with the co.uk address for business and branding purposes. Redirect the .com address so you don’t lose visitors. Folks coming to visit you to read the site because they’ve read previous stuff will find you and bookmark new address (or subscribe to feed) and new UK visitors looking to use your services will find you easy enough.

  9. Congrats, very happy that you got back your domain.

    I prefer “.com” – easier for existing and new readers to remember.

  10. I’m glad you got everything back to normal, it is awesome that GoDaddy was able to go as far as they did to help you out with everything.

  11. Outstanding David – I’m so glad to hear it is all cleared up. Great to know that so many came to your aid!

  12. Hi,
    Just another thought – if you are going to stick to .com, you need to try and get all the older links (quite a number) to changed on external sites. Use this to locate these and start emailing people.

    Also, I would suggest putting up a new post, something along the lines:
    “Do you link to me? Please update the URL!”, and submit it to Digg, Sphinn etc, that way, those who recognise you and your URL will be alerted to the change. I am sure because your situation has been noticed by thousands of people, the post will get picked up and recirculated, helping you regain your link power.

  13. Oops – please note the ;ine “if you are going to stick to .com” should read:
    “if you are going to stick to .co.uk”

  14. Mads,

    I’ve been seeing more and more of my old .com articles appear in Google with the .co.uk address, only not as high in the search rankings. There’s some updating obviously occuring, but how much I’m unsure.

    Glen,

    Again, it’s great of you to submit my story around the net. Very kind to spend the time doing that.

    sylv,

    I’m not familiar with mirroring, but anything that helps lessen the burden on my web host’s servers sounds good to me. Can you give me any more info?

    Rishil,

    Thanks for those links to SEOmoz. I know that’s a great place to start looking into things. Good of you to post the comment on two different articles too, so I definitely read it, and I’ll take your suggestions on board.

    Mike,

    I appreciate your advice. I’m swaying towards the .co.uk, what with the updates I’m seeing in Google.

    I can always set up a .com email address so my business cards are still valid, and tell people to visit davidairey.com. If it directs to my website then that’s all good.

    Vivienne,

    Thanks for your preference. As I mentioned to Mike, people could always still say .com when referring to me, as long as it directs to the .co.uk. Don’t you think?

    Dustin,

    It is superb what GoDaddy did to help out. I’m considering transferring all my domains to them, as Karen has been filling me in on their security procedures, and it sounds great.

    Randa,

    Thanks for your support, and absolutely, it’s amazing that so many people offered to help! A certain Tom wanted to pay the ransom for me, so I could track the thief through his bank details. Amazing.

  15. Good news! Glad everything is resolved. :)

  16. F. Ferraz

    Just letting you know that being a godaddy customer, I emailed them with my concerns right upon reading your story. I was happy to have received an email from them this morning, letting me know that your account was back on its feet. I’d like to think I made a difference :)

    Anyways, I’m sure the last few days been a hell of a ride for you, and you have no regrets, after all, talk about exposure!

    Cheers

  17. Thank you Beth Ellen.

    F. Ferraz,

    That’s very kind of you to email GoDaddy on my behalf. Every little helps, and you’re right – some welcomed exposure for me!

  18. What a great story. It ended up happily.

  19. Have you filed a criminal complaint, yet, for fraud, theft,and extortion with Interpol? How about a criminal complaint with ICANN?

  20. Wonderful news! I’m so happy to see this end well!

  21. Good news, and good work :-)

  22. So I guess I wasn’t seeing things last night.

    It’s great to see that GoDaddy cares!

  23. David, happy days indeed.

    .com is easier to say and remember…

    but let us know whatever you end up going with so we can get our links pointing the right way :-)

    Joanna

  24. Hey David, I’m glad (and slightly amazed) that you managed to get the .com back. Congrats.

  25. David, what wonderful news! This has been such a whirlwind for you in the past few weeks and it’s good to see the nice fellow finish first.

    And yay for GoDaddy…they did a good thing and deserve the good press in return.

  26. “I’ve been seeing more and more of my old .com articles appear in Google with the .co.uk address, only not as high in the search rankings. There’s some updating obviously occuring, but how much I’m unsure.”

    Thats where the 301’s will help move it faster – make a list of all the .com urls still in the SERP’s and 301 them to the corresponding .co.uk ones.

  27. Hi David,

    I was little late in reading your latest article about getting your .com domain back and meanwhile added a support message on my website. It will remain there till the time you want and for the keyword you want. It’s just a small initiative from my side for your whole episode of domain hack.

    While writing this, I got an idea, give me a cool “include the code” kind of thumbnail or message and I will replace it with existing one to link to you and will ask for help from other bloggers to link back to you to gain your top ranking for “logo designer” for .co.uk domain.

    Let me know if I can do anything else for you. I offered paypal money in previous comment for your legal battle, but looks like you don’t need it after getting the domain back. Still if you need it by any chance, please drop me a message, and I would help out in maximum possible way from my side.

  28. You were right to lay blame at the foot of gmail. It’s a copout to say that gmail is still in beta. Google is a big company, they are big boys who are playing big games, and they have to take responsibility (like they take lots of money). Probably the people saying “gmail is still in beta” work for google. I depend on gmail and google apps for your domain for everything, and I have been with them for years now, and have put the absolute trust of my business and personal life in them. I even teach my children to ignore their teachers who try to get them to use other search engines. Security experts like Steve Gibson and Leo Laporte have been talking about how gmail security is the linchpin for all of our other security, since google services are so far above the quality of other services that they have become essential–any compromise in gmail security compromises our entire online life–i know it would for me. Because they had talked about this in one of their recent security now episodes I think the online community had been sensititized to the issue before you were cracked by this guy, and that probably contributed to the support you received (also apparently there was some big karma which got directed to you).

    Thank you for having the courage to stand up and refuse to pay, and I am very happy that you got back control over your original domain name, and God bless you.

    Google–don’t use the copout excuse that gmail is in beta. By the way, I think google is starting to get so big that bureaucratic inertia is taking over. That’s the impression I get from meeting with a group of their staffers recently. They seemed, even, slightly evil. Maybe they won’t be behemoths forever, although they’re still way ahead of Microsoft and Yahoo.

  29. Awesome, congrats. I’d use the uk address though.

  30. Oh David! I am so happy and relieved for you!! And some good did end up coming out of this like you’ve said: the publicity. Wow! And I’m so glad you didn’t have to pay for anything, legal costs or otherwise.

    I don’t think the title of your last post was anything short of sensational. You got the attention you were looking for and it helped you get your domain back. What a wonderful feeling it must be to be supported by so many people (though quite unfortunate you had to find out this way!). The online community really rallied to your cause in disgust of someone who would steal a domain.

    I have heard that distinction between hacker and cracker (I always think of a “safe cracker” as in someone who breaks into bank vaults).

    So would you name the return of your domain as your best Christmas present to date? ;) Again, SO happy that you got your domain back and good for you for sticking to your morals and values and not giving this cracker one penny of your hard-earned money.

  31. Now, I am so happy this turned out well for you.. The only part I am stuck on is the part about godaddy just giving your domain back with a driver license. Can you image someone saying their domain was stolen and sending a copy of a drivers license? I know you were in the right, but would it be this easy for someone in the wrong? I have been following this story for days, I think your steps have been absolutely great. You are the kind of person I could learn from..

  32. Glad to hear everything’s fine now :)

  33. Hi David

    Nice to see you’re just about sorted.

    In terms of using .com or .co.uk remember that within webmaster central google now allows you specify your geo target for domains ending .com

    I don’t think yahoo and msn currently offer such targetting – though I could be wrong.

    If your work is based online, presumably you can design logos for anyone around the world and therefore .com makes sense?

    Maybe there is less competition in the UK search results for your chosen keyword phrases – so less could equal more (work)?

  34. David, Congratulations!!! I’m really glad this story of yours had such a happy end! Plus it brought your RSS feed count to 3000 – whoa! :-) I think you’ve already helped us a lot by sharing your story and all your steps towards getting back your domain, it will tremendeously help others in your situation (of course, I wish no one goes through this domain cracking nightmare). If you redirect .com to .co.uk how about all your old article URLs? Would you need to redirect them separately?

  35. Congrats David!

    So not only did the ‘cracker’ not get away with this particular scam but you got some great (free) publicity. It seems this bad turn of events could actually turn out to be good for your company! Talk about backfiring for the guy big time; seems he’s the one who got screwed and good.

    As far as the domain name? I’d do a forward of the .com to your .co.uk, that way your business cards are still correct and people can reach you no matter what they type in. I’d also suggest that you buy .net as well to keep this criminal from cashing in on your new-found publicity.

  36. Congrats David!! I feel so happy for you.
    This has been something that really took me by shock, and now that it’s over, I’m glad, that it did. I’ve been a regular feed reader for you blog, and have been following the story close, throughout.

    Now, I’m a bit apprehensive about using gmail. Or, browsing other sites while my mailbox is open.

    And, to say, you’re among the people I consider my rolemodels, in blogging.
    Congrats David again, for keeping at it and finally winning.

  37. Great news David! I use Gmail too for pretty much everything….I’m starting to second guess myself on this move after your situation.

    What will you use now for email if not Gmail?

  38. Congrats on getting it back… I was cheerin for ya.

  39. Glad to hear everything is back to normal. I have been following your ordeal for the past couple of days and it seemed like quite a process. Keep up the great work David.

    Congrats!

  40. Fantastic news, David. I’m thrilled. Wish you every success in 2008!

  41. Hey David,

    I’ve been following this and Glen Alsopp (above) submitted it to Sphinn. Myself and others have sphunn it so you should get more attention from the search marketing community soon, as it’s near making the front page.

    As to whether you’re better off with .com or .co.uk, Aaron Wall had a good item showing that local versions of google rank sites with ccTLDs (and local hosting, I think?) higher than generic TLDs. See here.

    And for future reference, I posted something about using Google Trends to help you pick out the right ccTLD domain for SEO purposes:
    http://seoroi.com/seo-roi-quality/using-google-trends/

    Cheers
    Gab

  42. David, glad that you got your domain back – it’s really great that the whole blogging community came together and helped you get it back. And I think any comments trying to shift the blame onto you, is really irresponsible and unwarranted. As far as the .com vs .co.uk as you mentioned the .co.uk should give you a little more love in the uk google results, and anyone coming to the .com if you went with the 301 redirect should arrive safely at the .co.uk but then there is the question of the link juice from the .com and whether the 301 will pass that love; I think in my personal opinion i would go with the setup as you have. Hope 2008 brings you great rankings and lots of new customers and all your domains secure and in your possession :)

  43. Hey David – I’m very glad that you’ve got your domain name back. I’d say keep the dot com as that’s what most people think of when you mention a domain name. All the best in 2008!

    — Dev Basu

  44. That’s great to hear David. It’s always fulfilling to see the good guy win.

  45. I think this is going to become one of those textbook answers to the question of why building a community around your blog is endlessly worthwhile.

    You’ve always bent over backwards to get to know your readers, and show them that you appreciate them. More so than any other blogger I know.

    It’s nice to see that the community was able to do something for you this time. :D

    As for the domain issue, all I can say is that a .co.uk would put off off-shore clients. A .com isn’t going to put off UK clients though. Perhaps the .com is better for that reason?

  46. Glad to see order has been restored.

    Paul.

  47. If you could add a little more about how others might be able to follow your procedure that might help the many others who’ve had domains taken via GoDaddy. This post will be quite findable via Google, and it would be great if it contained some additional information for those trying to deal with GoDaddy in situations like this. For example:

    “To recover our stolen domain that was stolen as a result of Godaddys failure to provide even the most basic common sense checks and balances protocols to intercept fraudulent cancellations and transfers we will have to go to the WIPO! We will have to hire a legal firm that specializes in WIPO/ICANN law and pay $1,500.00 to ICANN to impanel a few impartial arbitrators to render an opinion!”
    http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/0/284/RipOff0284268.htm

  48. Very happy to hear you got it back, David, and I would concur that keeping the .co.uk domain as the main domain, and 301’ing the .com to it is probably the best way to go.

  49. David, congrats on getting the domain back!

    You’ve gotten a look at how the UK domain ranks for your name for the countries that you care the most about. It sounds like the .co.uk might eventually rank even better for you (I guess every cloud has a silver lining).

    But you also want to move a little slowly to make sure that you get everything back to normal first. My advice: go back to the .com like you were using it before. Leave the .co.uk domain alive but keep separate content on it (e.g. why not leave up the story of getting cracked on the .co.uk site?). Then give everything a month or so to settle, let Googlebot recrawl your site, etc.

    Then after everything has settled in a month or two, that’s when I’d consider switching to the .co.uk. Remember the first rule of debugging (and it often applies to SEO too): if you can get away with only making one change at a time, that makes it much easier to see the impact of your change.

  50. David,

    I came across your story yesterday on how you got hacked and I had put myself in your shoes because if this would have happened to me, it would kill my income.

    It’s awesome to see a great company like godaddy work with you like this and it’s great that you got your domain name back. Good luck with your future projects!

    Tom

  51. Congratulations on getting your domain back – I’m not so sure that GoDaddy are the shining heroes here – after all one minute they are saying they won’t get involved as they know it’s unlikely most people will fork out (or afford) the $1500. Only after someone contacts the CEO that all of a sudden there actually is a process to get your domain back – when previously the day before there wasn’t.
    Then of course it’s scary that they accept a scanned in Drivers License as proof of ID and initiate the transfer back again.

  52. I cheered out loud when I read this. Great job man! :) I’m so glad it worked out in the end!

  53. David,
    This is truly a Geeks Christmas Carol (I really mean that). I’m so glad that this kind of scum can be beaten. You should really write the cracker/hacker/bummonkey a little email thanking him for the increase in site traffic.

  54. Thing is, this flaw in GMail was revealed AGES ago. I’d think that you’d keep up with Gmail news a little better if you rely on it as heavily as you do. I’m sorry for your inconvenience and such, but it really is something you should strive to stay informed of.

  55. Great news indeed! See that, things do have a way of coming back around and the good always prevails. Be safe. :)

  56. Hey David,

    I am sad at your story but relieved you got your domain back. I’ve never read your blog before but found it through a friend of a friend of a friend on LiveJournal who ran a post about you today as a warning to all of us not to use GMail.

    I’m a GoDaddy customer myself and will also write Bob Parsons – to thank him for helping you out. Your story was truly tragic but at least has a somewhat happier ending than I expected.

    I do hope you find a way to catch and make the cracker (hacker…most people will use the term ‘hacker’ for miscreants like this until the end of time, and I won’t argue, but ‘cracker’ is the right word) pay.

    It is an outrage to me that if someone hacks your website, steals your domain name, ruins everything you’ve got going for you online, your only recourse is to pay $15000 to initiate some sort of proceedings against him. Why does the finanacial burden lay upon you, when you were innocent and you were wronged, and none of it was your own fault (you commmitted no careless or reckless actions to make the crack possible)? I hate that. There has to be an overhaul of cybercrime laws until stealing someon’e domain/website is as easily proosecuted criminally as stealing a car is; things will not be right until that day comes.

    Just a few thoughts…I have warned people for years not to use GMail – at all. It’s hard for me to tell people ‘don’t use AOL if you can help it, oh and by the way..don’t use GMail, either -”

    They think I say it without reason, just to be hateful perhaps, but that’s not the case at all. The vulnerabilities in their code, as you have already been told, have been around for years. Anyone can hack Gmail…I could hack it right now, seriously. Google does not care, does not do much to close most of the loopholes. So just don’t use Gmail. At all. Honestly, I almost started crying when I read how you were hacked (through the GMail weakness); I don’t use GMail myself, I don’t use any standalone program or toolbar Google makes, and now more than ever, I’m glad I’ve rejected Google’s products, though I hate to see what harm using Gmail caused you.

    Also, from the last article you wrote, it seems your initial contact with GoDaddy was through an email (you said it took them 48 hours to respond); just in case you didn’t know, you can always call them, and get live people working on your problem right away. I call them at all hours, they are always there, and their customer support team is bright and capable.

  57. David,
    Congrats on getting it back! That’s great that you were able to do it without giving in a paying that “cracker.” Not to mention the delay that a legal procedure would have taken. I think it would be in your best interest to use to co.uk as your primary domain.

  58. Glad to hear the news!

  59. Glad to see you got your ‘good name’ back.

    Hey, if you get a chance, check out Part 1 of my last post. Specifically the cover art on the 1st page. It’s homemade crap – but what do you think would work better? Just an opinion, that’s all.

    As always a pleasure. Thanks for the Linkin add.

  60. I’m glad to read this post as soon as now! And yes, you reached a new audience — I wouldn’t know your website without this criminal’s actions, now I’m a new subscriber ;-)

  61. Glad to also read you got the domain name back. Do be more careful and cautious next time, of course. ;)

    Remember, folks, this can happen to anyone. Be aware, be responsible.

  62. Hi, David —

    I’ve been reading, horrified, as you’ve gone through this traumatic experience. How wonderful that it’s now resolved!

    I hope your most difficult decision in the entire next year is whether to use “.com” or “.co.uk”!

    Best wishes for an uncomplicated and joyful 2008.

  63. it is good to hear that the evil lost !

  64. You must be overwhelmed from the generous support. I think the happy ending here is the key- anything less would turn me ballistic with rage. I also want to support your blame on gmail- this wasn’t a stupid naive error on your part, just someone skilled at extorting innocent people through computer code errors. I hate those kinds of people. I also agree with not giving in- then you might’ve never crusaded to figure out how he did it and it would happen over and over and over. I’d still be on the alert since you don’t know what other kinds of info this bastard stole- he might target you again to make a point (via website or misc). I gotta go check my filters now… thanks for alerting the rest of us!

  65. This is great news, David. Glad everything worked out at the end. Hopefully that “cracker” gets what he deserves.

    Even though you may have made a mistake (according to some people) for using a free email account for your business, but at the end it was still a learning experience for you and maybe to other freelancers out there as well. I didn’t know about the Gmail security flaw until I read your previous post, so it was def a heads up for me.

    Cheers and Happy New Year!

    p.s.

    For some reason my comments are not posting on your blog. Hopefully this one posts.

  66. Congratulations! I look forward to reading the continuation (happy conclusion? – said with hope).

  67. well, a happy ending after all. good to hear it’s turn out to be okay.

  68. David, so happy that you got your .com back!

    Totally stupid how this cracker could think he could steal your branded blog. I mean, it’s you after all. I have no idea how he thought he could unload it.

    I hated to see the way he was taunting you. I read the comments he left on your post saying he would give you a discount because it was Christmas. I hope you publish his information after you find out who he is. That would be justice!

  69. I am really happy to hear that this has been sorted out, and that your domain has been rightfully returned to you. This incident was a pain in the butt, but hopefully you have all the bad mojo out of your system before the new year. Now you can start the New Years off on the right track.

    Blogging about this incident was an excellent way to increase awareness about this topic and the steps to take if this issue happens to someone else. Sometimes we need to create sensational headlines to ensure that our messages are distributed.

    I appreciate that GoDaddy was willing to work with you. Seeing all the support you have received is reassuring that overall the blogging community is willing to help each other.

    Happy New Years!

  70. Wow awesome that you managed to get your domain back.

  71. What a good end to this story. And to have Matt Cutts here giving you personal advice…I would definitely take it.

    Talk about the Christmas spirit, this just shows that while there are some unmentionables (like the ones who stole your domain) in the world, there are so many more great people. A real lesson in humanity!

  72. Congratulations, David!

    It’s good to see that you stuck to your guns in not paying the cracker, and everything still worked out as it should have–in your favor.

    I’d say you should stick with the co.uk… After all, isn’t one switch better than two? This domain is on its way up.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog the other day to leave a little thank you note, by the way. :D

  73. glad to hear this.
    Happy New Years Dave!

  74. I’m glad you got back what was rightfully yours in the first place, and in a relatively short time.

    I think thats excellent service by GoDaddy, which unfortunately cant be said of their service sometimes.. Now, if only we could nail the bum who blackmailed you and the others.

    Cheers!

  75. Congratulations David, and Welcome back to business !

    After what happened, it’s better to stick with your .com account as it will much popular now, any one read this will try your .com domain to make sure it’s back, so .. I think it will get in top of Google’s search list serach as well ..

    Happy New Year !!

  76. Another good news story to come out at Christmas. Well done David, I’m happy for you. Now, can you design me a new a logo for a discount? Ha ha, email me you prices if you would.

    Christopher.

  77. Firstly, I congratulate your for getting your domain back.

    Secondly, I rekon you should redirect from the .com to .com.uk because your targeted business reside in UK. Also, make sure your Google Webmaster account says your website is UK based. I guess you should rank #1 in UK.

    Not sure how to do it?

    # BEGIN .htaccess file
    RewriteEngine On

    # Redirect davidairey.com to http://www.davidairey.com.uk
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^davidairey.com
    RewriteRule (.*) http://www.davidairey.com.uk/$1 [R=301,L].

    # Redirect http://www.davidairey.com to http://www.davidairey.com.uk
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www.davidairey.com
    RewriteRule (.*) http://www.davidairey.com.uk/$1 [R=301,L]

    RewriteRule ^google-gmail-security-hijack StaticPage.html [R,L]

    RewriteRule ^blog/(.*)$ /$1 [R,L]
    RewriteRule ^blog$ / [R,L]

    # BEGIN WordPress

    RewriteEngine On
    RewriteBase /
    RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
    RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
    RewriteRule . /index.php [L]

    # END WordPress
    # END .htaccess file

  78. Congrats. Really happy to learn that you got back your domain name.

    I feel that you should retain .com because I am sure you want clients from all around the world and not only the UK. And of course, it is ranked higher in Google.com

  79. Great News!

    I’m not sure I agree with peoples comments on the naivety of using a free email service for business. I’m assuming you use an (at)gmail.com account, but Google also offers Google Apps, a service marketed as being used by businesses (they have a free and paid for version). I would assume that this uses the same platform as the standard gMail service and would have been open to the same security exploit.

  80. I’m really pleased everything is back on track now. Its just a pity that the cracker isn’t being brought to justice on anything (yet?).

    I would tend to recommend sticking to the dotcom as the regular one, although its perfectly feasible to have the .co.uk site mirror the .com via some .htaccess trickery. That way, Google should still look kindly upon both domains.

  81. Congratulations on getting your domain back! It’s always nice to hear stories like this. It’s amazing what can be done when you reach out to your community! Thanks for documenting the story so well!

  82. Great news David,

    For what it’s worth, as your customers are mainly UK based, I’d use the .co.uk as the main domain and redirect the .com to it.

    Hope you have a Happy New Year.

    Regards,
    Ian

  83. This is the best news! I do so love GoDaddy! I knew they would step up to the plate when they heard about it! They have always been patient and helpful.

    Everyone was a victim in this. I still want to grab that little geek by the neck!

    Congratulations, David! Whew! I’m with Page, thank you for keeping us informed through the whole thing!

    The puzzle to me is… why? Where was the gain? This guy is now on everyone’s “list!”

  84. OMG, David! I had no idea this happened to you. I was not online so often lately and now I have a lot of catching up to do. Glad to see the problem fixed though.

    Anyway, I take this opportunity to wish you a prosperous 2008.
    Best wishes,

    Mig

  85. If you want to keep your Google rankings up, use a 302 “Permanent Redirect” rather than a 301 “Temporary Redirect”

  86. Using the software of your choice for email doesn’t mean you “get what you deserve”. That’s nuts! If Google wasn’t trying to get people to consider their services for business, they wouldn’t have Google Apps. You had no idea about the vulnerability until it was exploited and if you did, then you may have made other choices, or maybe not. Point is, that getting your domain stolen was not your fault, it was the cracker’s doing. I’m glad you got it back and didn’t have to pay a criminal.

  87. Just to clear things up, whoever said he was a “cracker” is sadly misinformed, a cracker is just what is sounds like, its a person who “cracks” software for free use and distributes it. Not for malicious intent. There are both black hat hackers who hack for malicious intent. “hacking ” is to break into or infiltrate a system or program without permission, just as did the hacker to your system. and there is also white hat hackers, who also “hack” but with no malicious intent involved usually just to poke around and to report any vulnerabilities. If you disagree with me pick up Art of Intrustion of Kevin Mitnick and educate yourself by the greatest hacker ever.

  88. Welcome back bro. It sucks that you had to go through this, but I think the “bigger picture” is that it can help others. It certainly reminded me to pay more attention to the details (email, DNS, etc.).

    Good luck to you…
    J

  89. This is great news, David. I just read the article about the theft in the Edinburgh Evening News. I’m so pleased you got it back. Hope you manage to have a little rest over the New Year.

  90. Wow I read your original story just yesterday. That was a quick turn around. Glad everything is ok.

  91. Congrats David.

  92. Dude you got that backwards. It’s 301 for Permanently Moved and 302 for Temporarily Moved.

    Glad everything worked out David ;)

  93. Fantastic!!

    Glad to see the community really kicking in!! Also nice to see GoDaddy (who I use quite often myself) being so helpful.

    Congratulations on getting your domain back!

  94. Hi David!

    This is a great good news for the whole blogosphere. I’m really glad you got your domain back. I didn’t bother to update your link from my other blog cause I was very hopeful that you will get your davidairey.com back. :)

    Congratulations! Have a Wonderful and Happy New Year ahead!

  95. That’s a relief, isn’t it. Good for you. I am surprised how quickly your status got
    restored.

    Great that GoDaddy was helpful. Since they are in a helping mode. I expect that
    they tighten security for their own customers. A company with 42% marketshare should
    be able to offer that:
    * TLS/SSL encryption for POP3, and secure SMTP Authentication for their mailboxes. I
    believe they still don’t support IMAP on their mail accouts (would not make much
    sense with 25 MB anyway)
    * And secure authentication for FTP to hosting accounts.

    Yours
    John W. Furst

  96. SOOOooooooo glad things worked out for you David. I’ve heard mixed things about GoDaddy, but I’ve had nothing but a great experience with them and I’m not surprised that they took great care of you in this process.

    Congrats also on using social media to your advantage and getting such great press coverage. Don’t second guess your previous headline at all – it doesn’t matter that you used GMail for business, any fanboy of Google sticking up for them is just someone who needs to realize that all businesses should be held accountable for their mistakes.

    Happy New Year!!

  97. You’re a very lucky person.
    I wonder if it was anyone else noone would have cared about it.

    Glad your domain is restored. And with the help from godaddy, go figure :)

  98. You are not only very lucky, but you were brave and smart to share your story. It’s also wonderful that the Internets can on occasion be a community of caring and rallying together: it takes a village to nab a cracker!

    Best of luck, and I hope nothing like this happens again. And I hope you mostly enjoyed your vacation.

  99. Congrats and I hope this guy gets what he deserves.

  100. David,

    Came across your site via mybloglog. Great Blog!

    Just wanted to wish every one a Happy new year!

  101. I guess the saying is true.. “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” I’m happy your back from your trip and your site is back up… without having to pay that cracker.

    As for the people that said you deserved this attack… what is wrong with them. Nobody deserves to be attacked in anyway. Plus you can’t expect people to know how to protect themselves in any way possible.

  102. It’s Christmas miracle

  103. From the page: “Just to let you know, the filthy person who did this to you is referred to as a “cracker” not a “hacker”. A hacker is someone who tweaks things to their purposes. A cracker is a low-life who attacks other people with malicious intent. There is a big difference.” … // … while its often good to see the internet community rise up as one to undo an injustice, it is still important to keep the facts straight … once again, the usage of terms within the page is incorrect – a cracker is someone who breaks defensive measures placed in proprietary software. Most often than not, this is in the form of removing, bypassing or creating key generators for registration requirements within proprietary software. The intent and actions of the individual cracker is separate from the general definition.

  104. Congratulations Dave. Been watching the whole thing and find it amazing you did not cave in and just pay. I certainly would have. Well done on your perseverance.

  105. its good to know you have your domain back …
    hope it doesnt happen to anyone … especially me …
    as i dont have any tech know how … (after i read your posts … i realized i havent learnd anything about web pages and SEO yet) hehehe …
    here is a happy new years wish from maldives …

  106. Oh, didn’t notice this blog yet. Great to see your domain back in your posession… Now keep it this time ;)

    Happy 2008@

  107. Congratulations, David! That is certainly great news! Way to stand up for your values and not to give in to this cracker’s demands. I applaud you! Thanks for keeping all of us updated.

  108. I’d submit something to INTERPOL, as one prev. commenter recommended.
    This type of crime is clearly not going away, and cross-country/state/border/agency enforcement and prosecution will have to keep improving over time.

    -Really fantastic that you were able to get so many people to help you and perhaps even increase business (?) as a result of the pub.

    Stay safe! -Cheers.

  109. @ subcorpus “its good to know you have your domain back …
    hope it doesnt happen to anyone … especially me …”

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. :D

    Glad you got your domain back, David.

  110. I’m not sure I agree with the definitions of hacker and cracker – the intent for both can be malicious. I have respect for both hackers and crackers on occasion. Both have been found useful in testing the security of applications and websites.

    I’ve been off the radar this week on vacation so I was startled to find out what occurred. I’m glad all is back to normal!

  111. Wonderful news!

    I would agree with Matt Cutts idea, continue blogging at .com and keep a separate content in .co.uk. An idea is to display an informational banner on top of the .co.uk site saying “what’s different between this and my .com site”… and then have articles here about the cracking, the aftermath, and so on.

    And then after everything’s settled you can move to .co.uk :)

  112. I’m not sure I agree with peoples comments on the naivety of using a free email service for business.

    It’s fine. It depends on who’s offering the free email service, and how much support they’ll give especially for critical issues.

    In my previous registrar life, I’ve seen various hijackings occur because of free email addresses either “recycled” due to long inactivity or compromised directly. That’s one reason why various registrars don’t recommend using free email services if it can be helped.

  113. Congrats! You have you have just woke up from one of the worst nightmares a webmaster can have. I’m glad that you had the the luck to have your domain back. In my side, I think it’s time to delete all my password-containing e-mails and stored them in an encrypted file. I always thought something like this could happen sometime, but never took it seriously, now I should :)/

    Happy new year! wish you the best luck from Costa Rica.

    Ed.

  114. This should help you on setting up a mirror David:
    http://www.howtoforge.com/mirroring_with_rsync

  115. Glad you got the domain back. The publicity you got from this whole thing would probably offset the lost SERPs to some extent. Hope the low-life cracker gets the justice he deserves.

  116. DavidNetk

    w00t!

    The power of digg + others at work!

    Congrats, I’m glad to see you got your domain back!
    Hope you enjoyed India!

  117. Also, about using Google’s Free Email service, Gmail has an enterprise version which would have had the same vulnerability.

    There’s nothing that can guarantee a paid email service wouldn’t have such issues. All software has bugs by default.

  118. I envy you, having so much attention from others. I’m glad everything is alright.

  119. Congrats on getting back your domain name. Its sad experience to you but a good lesson to the whole web community. All the best for your business. Now you can forgive and forget the past and focus on the future.

  120. Wonderful news, I was very surprised of this happy issue, blogging can solve a lot of problems ! Way to go David.

  121. David, I’m delighted you got this issue restored. I’m sure you, and others reading this story, will glean knowledge from the experience. I think it’s only from things which go wrong do we truly learn. The thing is to use the experience to go effect later, and I’m sure the lessons learned will be useful.

    Now you can concentrate on memories of your Indian odyssey!

    Happy New Year! Mark.

  122. Greatr article, And good to hear everything went well. Will anybody read this anyway ? I also posted this on my blog, http://www.opentopix.com

  123. At least something good came out of all this. You got 100’s of new readers i guess because I am one of them.

    I am glad you got your domain back. That really encouraged me to start using my domain’s email addresses and not some free email service that can destroy a person’s career.

  124. Minal Patel

    Great to hear the domain is back in your control.

    a problem shared is a problem halved.. (or whatever the fraction is when you share it with the web community).

    Be well Davidsan.

  125. Glad to hear you got it sorted.

  126. Well done and a very Happy New Year!

  127. Well it’s nice to see Bob Parsons has done something right. A couple of years ago I purchased three domain names, within a few hours I was emailed by them and told I was locked out of my GoDaddy account due to a “security” issue (I’m still waiting on an explanation for this) and had to call GoDaddy in the US from the UK , eventually fax ID’s and some other bits just to get access to my account. I renewed one of them recently and have subsequently had two emails saying I’m unable to renew them. When I ask for an explanation I get a reply saying their emails were sent in error.
    It’s a lot of hassle for something that costs a few bucks.
    Speaking of which the GoDaddy website has the worst navigation I have ever came across. We should get a discount merely for logging on.

  128. What a wonderful way to start the New Year !

    Welcome Back !!!

    I need to update my site , to let my readers know this.

    Perhaps, you can do a follow up story on what you are going to do next ?

    OS9USER

  129. David
    I don’t know what browser you were using when this incident occurred, but one reason I use firefox, is that I install the add-on (extension) “NO SCRIPT”, so that I have to consciously authorize any scripts on any web page before they can execute – be they java, flash, or whatever. With the plethora of extensions available for Firefox, there may be others you can enhance security with.
    ciao
    glad to hear of happy ending

  130. Hi David,

    That is indeed great news! We are all so happy with you and this just goes to show how many bloggers really do care.

    Whoever said the Internet was an unfriendly place. Bad things happen both online and offline but the real humanity shows when people rally together for a common cause.

  131. Glad to see your site back, have a really happy new year David!

  132. Thank you for placing the blame where it belonged (on g-mail).
    I’m a songwriter, and I’ve been sending not yet copy righted material back and forth to my brother’s recording studeo by g-mail.
    Now (thanks to you), the warning is out !
    There ARE creeps who use the net to rip off , and otherwise disrupt people’s business , (and personel ) lives.
    If they are in a foreign country situation I don’t know how to retaliate. Please keep us posted if you do find out .
    I’m really glad you got your domain back.
    good luck in the future !
    James

  133. im just curious what the international law is on this and iran being a theocracy what action would be taken if he were caught?? this might be a silly question but in iran don’t they chop their heads off for such things or hands ? could this guy get his head chopped off for stealing your domain name? is that a just punishment? he definitely should go to jail. maybe they could just chop off a little finger or toe?
    this is a great story and really helpful to those using gmail. i do also wonder about instant messengers such as skype or others…i have skype and am constantly getting popups from people in the middle east…is this a way for them to gain entrance to my passowords?

  134. quangntenemy

    Both hacker and cracker are not the correct word in this case. They refer to skilled users who are able to break into other systems.
    In this case the guy used a known vulnerability published by another hacker/cracker. I think you should call him “script kiddie”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Script_kiddie

  135. Hello,

    I am a complete internet business novice and have two questions re. the cracker fiasco.

    1. I have just signed up for google apps and gmail, with the intention that my new business will rely on both to process all my emails.

    Many of you have said that the cracker fiasco proves (again) the fallibility of google and have advised against using google mail/apps. But no one has suggested any alternatives. Are there any?

    2. I am trying to digest all the info. out there about the best online payment processing companies. Does anyone have any advice?

    If anyone could answer my questions I would be extremely grateful.

    I also wanted to make a comment re. the cracker fiasco and the idea of pursuing the cracker through the courts or any other kind of legal avenue.

    First, as an ex-lawyer I would strongly advise against pursuing the cause of justice in this case (and in fact in most cases). The legal system is not set up to ensure justice and more often than not the only people who benefit from legal actions are lawyers and law firms.

    Unless you find a brilliant lawyer/barrister who offers to take on the case out of the goodness of his or her heart, at absolutely no cost regardless of whether you win or lose, I think you will be wasting far too much valuable time, money, and emotional well being. Particularly if this case involves numerous jurisdictions. I am sorry to sound so jaded, but I speak from experience. I prefer to believe in the old adage that what goes around comes around. I think it is far more reliable than any legal system.

    I have heard of many disaster holidays but your one, David, is well and truly one of the worst. I hope your next holiday is a far more pleasant event for you and for your girlfriend.

    All the best into 2008!

  136. Hi David,

    Congratulations on getting your domain name back! I had a friend who went through a similar situation a few years ago (thanks to Network Solutions), but I’m glad yours ended well.

  137. I am relieved that this was resolved and the good guy won out in this situation Dave.

    Cheers to you Dave, and best of luck in the new year.

  138. congrats on getting your domain back.

    PS: Happy New Year! :)

  139. That is fantastic! I think .com or .co.uk is a happy problem dont you think?

    Anyways, after all this discussion, I think you might have missed out one other factor? That is a strong password and use multiple email services. For example using your daily email service, password different from your server one…

    Regardless I am very happy to hear this and please keep in touch.

    rdgs
    dt

  140. Good to hear the bad guys did not win.

    I hope you can make this guy pay you a lot

    Cheers

  141. David,
    Congrats on your winning battle which made headlines in the news. I look at it as a blessing in disguise for more people are flooding to your site. It’s nice to know there are many caring bloggers behind you too.

    I know that things will work out better for you in 2008. I have already learned a few great lessons from visiting you. I’m sure other visitors have learned something too.

  142. congratulations! amazing story! good to know that u got your domain back. wish you a prosperous new year David.

  143. Katryna

    What a happy ending! Congratulations and I hope this is the start of an amazing new year for you! :)

  144. Wow. Welcome back. I was wondering what happened to you. I’m glad your absence was short-lived.

  145. Thank you so much for all the messages of support.

    Sorry I can’t respond to you all individually, but I’ve been overwhelmed with comments and emails lately. Be sure that I’ve valued every one of your contributions.

    You’ve made me happy this new year, and I wish every one of you a fantastic 2008!

  146. Glad to not that you got your domain back. Nice of GoDaddy too.

  147. zer0day

    Just saw your story on xssnews.com, Im glad you got your domain back. I can’t imagine how it musta felt losing it :(

  148. Killer ending! So glad to hear things worked out for you!

    Best wishes,

    Jimmy

  149. I would suggest the .co.uk for security, as if I am correct in saying, does paperwork not need to be filed by both parties to transfer a .co.uk domain? that would make you a lot safer for the future, Its a lot harder, they need to give a physical location to get the paperwork, and also attack the postman delivering to your house.

  150. I’m glad it worked out for you.

    This is a testament (even surprised me) that a social internet really can help the greater good of humanity and not just be entertainment for college students..

    I’m curious to see where the internet will take us in the next few years.

    Glad that the rules of copy writing, media, and publicity really helped you get your goal accomplished. :) Hope to hear more from you.

    -M

  151. Not too sure about the paperwork requirement for .co.uk transfers, but it’s worth looking into. Thanks.

    Max,

    It is indeed testament to social media, and surprised me too.

    Thanks for the well wishes, Jimmy.

  152. I heard about this from one of my graphic design friends Kate Andrews who also had her GMail hacked. This is a great story & you was right to not pay them, even if it was $0.02. Good luck with your design business, if you get time maybe you could check out mine:

    http://designwithoutsleep.com

  153. Congratulations on getting your domain back. I felt so sorry for you when reading the original post and hoped you would find some way to get it back. To do so without paying the ‘ransom’ must also have been a very nice feeling! This is one of my fears as a website owner and I thank you for firstly alerting your readers to this security flaw with gmail and secondly taking the time to share how it was resolved. I think this post will help a lot of people in the same situation for a long time to come. Congratulations again on your success.

  154. Hey,

    Once again I have a post last one was removed thats fine by me. Theres a few things I want to clear up though. It is not ‘cracker’ it is still yet a ‘hacker’. People confuse the two quite a lot. Thing is a hacker has 3 sub categories. They are ‘white hat’ ‘gray hat’ and ‘black hat’. White is the natural symbol for good so White Hat would mean he is a good hacker someone who usually would work for maybe a higher up company to check and fix any security holes. Black hat hackers are known for their ‘misconduct’ giving the term ‘hacker’ a bad name. Because honestly when someone says ‘hacker’ what do you think? People have been trained to think that hacker means something bad when it truly does not. Lastly is a gray hat hacker which is those who ‘sit on the fence’ they are good and yet do ‘bad’ things for lack of a better word. Now onto the definition of a cracker, a cracker is known as a person who ‘cracks’ programs [aka ‘warez’] for acquiring access to data they should not have access to and granting others with certain access to programs they would usually have to pay to get.

    Now THAT is a ‘hacker’ and a ‘cracker’

    You don’t have to let this post but I hate when these two terms are confused. So would it be possible to uh let’s say ‘correct’ that small part? If you don’t believe me I can provide ‘proof’ of what I say is true.

  155. A Liquid:

    I’m sorry but you are wrong. Very wrong. To set the story straight, for once and for all…

    Ahem:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_hat

    It mentions right there that “cracker” is alternative slang for the phrase “black hat hacker”.

    See it in use again here:

    http://www.fcw.com/print/11_39/news/90994-1.html

    (Scroll down that long-winded article about halfway and you see:

    “Not every hacker is a cracker,” which is the old slang for a black hat, Maiffret said.”)

    Thank you. I rest my case.

  156. Shaun, Claire,

    Thank you for your support with this. It has meant a lot to see so many others leaving nice comments.

    Liquid,

    I appreciate you leaving your thoughts, but I’ll not be amending the article at this time. People can read your comments for further info on the definitions.

    Marah,

    Good of you to respond to Liquid before I had the chance. Much appreciated, thanks.

  157. hey david, just wanted to stop by and say that I read through the whole story and that it fascinates me because I assume I would have acted in the same way as you: raise public awareness and try to get someone big at the head of the decision making unit to help me out. anyway good to see you resurrected your domain so quick and by what alexa says it is alive and kicking!

    funny how our logo kind of looks the same, doesn’t it?
    I believe it was part of a pattern/brush found on deviantart – your site is only one of many that uses it (I do, too) but I reckon I will be changing it soon or later once I have more time at hand after exams. take care, jez

  158. Congratulations! I am really glad to hear you have your domain back.

    I found your original post through StumbleUpon and just found this update the same way. Social bookmarks are great for drawing traffic.

    After reading the first article I forwarded it to a bunch of my friends that use Gmail. It is a great program but it is unfortunate that such a security risk is present.

    I have now bookmarked your site and I hope this unfortunate event ends up being a blessing in disguise.

    Cheers!

  159. I’m amazed this happened, I really feel for you mate it must of been a very stressful time, glad your back on track though :)

  160. Jez,

    I’m not that clued up on the info you can obtain from Alexa. Do you use their services often?

    That particular shape we both use in our logos is certainly quite popular. I’ve been using mine for a few years, so will stick with it for now (plenty of business cards printed).

    Alex,

    Thanks for the well-wishes.

    Abhijeet,

    I’ve left you a comment on your latest blog post about Google indexing.

  161. Hey David, did you get a chance to look at the message I put on the top left corner of my website. Let me know if you want me to remove it anytime.

  162. As an Internet Security Specialist working for the States as well as a private consultant, I’ve been thouroughly trained to avoid possible happenstances as such. That being said, please allow me to offer some tips to avoid outcomes such as this in the future:

    1) For business, don’t use free/public email systems… No matter “how good” they might seem, they (the company providing the service) can always weasel their way out of responsibility by making claims such as, “we’re Beta” or “in our ToS we said we don’t accept responsibility in the event of illegal intrusions and you clicked ‘I Accept’ buddy” Sure, free is good… but not when it comes to business

    As someone here already asked… the alternative is to either run your own email server (its really not that hard to do) or use a hosted service such as Webmail.us or mailstreet.net which will provide you with fully redundant Linux and/or Windows based services of your choice :)

    2) Don’t use public places to check your email! This includes your own laptop on a public wifi hotspot… how do you know the router you are using hasn’t been owned and all traffic is being logged for analysis by blackhat hackers?? Instead, if you must, using STRICTLY your own system (pda, laptop whatever) setup a VPN server on your server(s) with enforced encryption in place or use openssh, stunnel, IPSEC, etc to ensure that even if they log your traffic all they see is garbage. Uts down on exposing your data :)

    3) Listen to ppl with experience :) Your ISP seems very responsive… I would ask them their opinion on keeping .co.uk vs. .com etc.

    4) Paranoia is good, but too much of it can make your life a living hell. I’m referring to the Firefox with NoScript suggestion… Noone can keep up with the annoying as hell, “are you sure?” question just to see Anjelina Jolie in a see-through bikini :p As long as you use an A/V, an anti- malware/spyware, an IDS (snort, eeye blink, etc) and decent (refer to matousec and firewallleaktester for rankings) Firewall (AKA IPS) on your system, and actually keep them uptodate with patches/signatures/etc along with your OS patches, you are free to use whatever you want without headaches :) Ahhh… don’t take this as a carte-blanche to do stupid stuff on purpose and blame the system i.e. download a sexx-dialer and run it despite all protection warning you NOT TO! Now mac users will say, “bah! we don’t need no steenking software like that to be safe” … To those ppl, I would simply smile and move on as there are currently 43 exploits still unpatched for their almighty 10.X series OS and allows the blackhat fullaccess. The same goes for all Linux flavors out there… Nothing is FULLY SECURE! If its on the Net, it’s vulnerable. Period.

    5) As was recommended, keeping uptodate is key to staying secure. I personally follow 130+ RSS feeds daily to make sure I’m on top of things… on top of that I’m a member of several key listservs such as Bugtraq, fulldisclosure, dailydave etc etc. You’d be surprised the amount of “found this bug in bla” emails arrive in my inbox daily.

    6) Use email filtering services… i.e. Use mailstreet’s defender service or webmail.us’ spamcop/assasin service… You’d be surprised how much it cuts down on various hack attempts that seem “legit” via email.

    Other than that, keep on keeping it up my friend and enjoy your day/newfound netfame :)

    Sincerely,
    Aras “Russ” Memisyazici

  163. Russ,

    Thanks very much for taking the time. I appreciate what you’re saying, and will take much of it on board.

  164. hehehe :) I’m honored to be heard!

    @jez:

    As you already in person commented on how horrible my website currently looks like (insert legit copout) I’d be more than happy to guest blog in exchange for some touch ups on my WWW face :)

    @davidairey:

    Anytime friend. If you ever have any questions on implementation of what I mentioned feel free to drop me a line. I’d be more than happy to assist in anyway that I can. After all, one more secured system, is one less system that is zombified/botnetted/… :)

    –Russ

  165. I’m glad to see this whole situation has been resolved. It wasn’t too long ago that I stumbled upon your story, but I’m glad to see that you came out of it with a good result.

    Anywho, good luck with future endeavors. I wish you the best!

    -Dan

  166. I noticed that my favorite community site, TagWorld, has been hit with several hacks and nothing has been the same since the owners created FLUX. In fact, the owners no longer even bother repair any glitches in the system!

    Since then, I’ve been trying out several new community sites, and finally decided I’d give WordPress a try. Here’s hoping it works!

    In the meantime, looks like you need more information on using your htaccess file – which is a security feature – check out http://www.javascriptkit.com/howto/htaccess.shtml

  167. I was pleased to see that you got the domain back. I’ve been enjoying reading your excellent back catalogue of content. While I would never wish domain theft on anyone, the incident ironically may well have given your site a huge boost. Nice to see how helpful GoDaddy was.

  168. Aras, Dan,

    Thanks very much guys.

    Denise,

    Thanks for that link. I’ll certainly take a look as I’m currently hopeless with .htaccess.

    Alex,

    You’re right. There were some down-sides, but all in all it’s been a great learning experience, and I picked up a few very welcomed readers on the way.

    Thanks for the compliment on my content.

  169. Dougie Bell

    Hi David

    I’ve just succumbed to a similar sort of hack – however instead of stealing a domain name (don’t have one) they decided to nick £50 from my Paypal account instead (thinking about it they seem to have managed to get into Paypal first then added this filter in later…).

    I’m very skeptical that it’s been fixed once-and-for-all so i’m checking filters daily.

    Meantime if i use Safari for GMail & GCal and Firefox for everything else am I right in thinking the backdoor won’t work ?

  170. Hey, I am curious to know what happened to your vacation in India?

    And I guess this hacking thing has now worked in your favour, I had never heard about you. Yet, I am here. :)

  171. David- Very interesting story here. I first landed on your blog via a link you put on CodeProject, and now I’m here, seeing that you were able to get your domain recovered. I am very happy to hear this was the outcome.

    I scanned over many of the comments left in both threads, but am unable to find one answer. How do I, a gmail user, prevent this backdoor attack? I saw your comment about checking your filters, but nothing about how to prevent bad filters from getting created.

    My assumption is that there is no answer, and that we are waiting for Google to implement a fix. Is this correct?

  172. Dear David,

    Hi,
    I just read both of your posts. As an Iranian, I should first ask everybody here to accept my apologies for what happened. I already saw similar miserable wretched young guys. They shamelessly do such works for the fun of of it or to be famous, and sometimes for the money.

    The bad part is that they don’t understand how they ruin name of a country, for nothing, by doing such stupid, illegal jobs. I think they don’t understand what they are actually doing. They don’t understand this is a real business that they are disturbing.

    This report gave me such disappointment that pushed me to add this thread to show my sadness and anger and to ask everybody here to forgive this rude treatment.

    I’m happy that your website is back. Good luck with your great job.

  173. Dougie,

    I’m not not whether using different browsers for different puposes would’ve helped, as I’m not familiar with exactly how the bug worked. Like you, I’m also skeptical this issue has been resolved for good.

    Poonam,

    There have been some positives to this story, for sure, even though it brought some stress to the last week of my holiday.

    Levi,

    According to many people who have commented, this is a security issue that has since been fixed by Google. That said, it wouldn’t stop me from checking my filters from time to time. Just to be sure.

    H.M.

    No need to apologise at all. Every country in the world has its ‘bad apples’, even though the majority of people are good-willed. Thanks for the message of luck.

  174. Hi David,

    I’ve read a lot of your articles. All really interesting! I was wondering if there is any news about the cracker? It’s a little scary that he can still get away with it, after all the attention.

  175. It’s amazing what can be done when you reach out to your community!

  176. Happy cat

    I had a problem with Gmail With a ‘cracker’. !WITH THE SAME ALIAS! He also got a hold of my Etrade stock but with this artical I got all my losses back thanxs :D.

  177. Lennart,

    No further news, but it’s a shame ‘Happy cat’ (who commented after you) had a GMail problem with someone using the same alias.

    Happy cat,

    Glad you were able to recover your losses.

  178. Hi david!

    I am glad that you got your domain back. and thats some good posts you made about this vulnerability and how u got this domain..

    Many have got their domains hacked err ‘cracked’ by this way and I am surprised that gmail was to be blamed.

    As the vulnerability is caused by visiting sites like evil.com that gives a redirect script that installs a filters into the logged on gmail account , I suggest you stay away from Malicious sites. To be on the safe side , use firefox 3 with extension WOT (web of trust). That shows the potential whether a site is vulnerable/trusted/reported by the users before you enter it.. and always be on the safe side , get your Virus databases updated, and have a strong firewall.

  179. David, I just followed your articles on your blog; I’m glad to see it all ended in a positive manner, your experience has influenced my idea of internet security very much. These things never leave us, I know, but I’m glad to see the internet community of graphic designers and such came to your aid. Your website is a great resource and an entertaining blog to read.

  180. Thanks Mohammed, Justin. I appreciate that.

  181. As someone new to the domain name game, I was in the process of starting my site using gmail. Had I not come across this, surely I would have been vulnerable. Thank you so much for this article, though I’m very sorry that the knowledge we all gain from it came at such a cost for you.

  182. No worries at all, Angela. There were undoubtedly some pros behind my misfortune, such as increased publicity and a steep learning curve.

  183. Hey David,

    I’m glad to hear it ended up working out for you.
    I just wanted to leave a comment and hope to cheer things up a bit. If you ever want to register a new domain try this promo code for GoDaddy.com

    30% off any .coms or renewals- Slam3

    Thanks for the excellent story!

    Cheers

    PRIMUS1

  184. Glad to hear that your website was restored to you.

    I still wonder what happened to Peyam, he should get a good lesson.

    Utsav Mittal

  185. WHOA
    Really glad to see you got your domain name back. As I read your posts, I can only imagine the ANGER and frustration you were experiencing. I got mad just reading. I often wonder about security flaws on the web and what I can do to make my traffic more secure. Thanks a whole lot for the information.

  186. I found your story while looking around for information on how wp blogs get hijacked (I’d like to know ‘why’ too but that is a whole other subject.)

    If I could find out how its done I could prevent it happening to my own blogs and though it is small consolation pass the advice on to a friend who has recently had her domain hijacked so it doesn’t happen to her again.

    I just wanted to say how much your story restores my faith in there being more goodies than baddies out there. And also to thank you for taking the time to tell your story in such detail.

  187. Considering how cloud computing is supposed to be the next big thing (ironically, pioneered en-masse by the Google OS), it makes one terrified to think just what would happen if ALL our information was online.

  188. ellumbra

    Hi David – An intriguing story – you were fortunate that good old “human contacts & intervention” were able to side-step the cold & rigid protocols in place – which leave you feeling as if nobody has really bothered to look at the case at all.

    Had a similar experience – my real name has been poached and a dot.com domain set up – to publish false accusations and character defamation – about myself.

    You may be surprised to learn how this event led me here.

  189. Wow, i am just glad that you got your domain back after those laborious steps, not to mention your worries and stress during the process. I was looking for Gmail HTTPS related article and I found your post and i read all the way through, from your warning post to your domain recovery.

    all i can say, it’s scary out there.

  190. I don’t think that it’s a matter of free or paid email accounts. As long your email is lying readable on an email server, it could be used, sold or whatever. It’s a matter of encryption. If you really want, that
    only the person, which gets the email, can read it, than you have to encrypt it. (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pretty_Good_Privacy)

    Greetings,
    dan

  191. Hey,

    Just read your article. That sucks but I am glad you got things sorted. It is a shame you couldn’t sort this situation out without getting in touch with the top boss.

    All the best,

    Tom

  192. Amanda

    Wow – a scary story and definitely food for thought! Identity crime can take all sorts of forms.

  193. Hello David,

    Your story touched my heart… I’m a fellow graphic artist and webmaster and I definitely know how much work and love goes into our domains. I’m so glad that you stuck to your ideals and didn’t let that low-life get a single dime out of you.

    It was heartwarming to read how many people stepped in and helped you, it renews our faith in mankind. Most people ARE good and kind, which the news media should focus on more often instead of the opposite.

    I wish you all the best in restoring your ‘good name’ and your traffic. If you’d like a backlink, just say the word, I’ll be happy to post one on my graphics site. :)

    Blessings,
    Donna

  194. Thanks very much, Donna. All the very best to you, too.

  195. Hey,

    A fellow artist, webmaster and hopefully decent human, I too was touched by your story, event though reading it some time after the fact.

    My site was scraped and it seemed like it had to be left in the hands of the internet gods.

    I found out one day by clicking on a keyword search for one of my pages. To my surprise, it was not my site but my entire content, color and layout only with a different domain name.

    Seems the game is the same but the rules have changed.

    Don’t know if it is worth going after at this point.

    Your story is a bit inspiring though.

    Now, how is your traffic and ranking? Were you able to make it up?

    Godspeed in your future endeavors.

    Jonathan Steele

  196. Thankfully the SEO dip was temporary, Jonathan, and it only lasted a few weeks, tops. All the best.

  197. Mukarram

    Hi,
    Today i was shocked to see css-trick.com’s post regarding “this site domain is stolen”.
    Then searching google n found your story, i’m really very happy that you got your domain back and really appreciate the way you handle this matter.
    Congrats :)

  198. Hi David,

    Just came accross your entire story, and very courageous of you not to pay a penny to the thief!

    Very glad to know you got your domain back and now you are relaxed. I am from India by the way and I stay very close to Colaba! Take care and congratulations once more…

  199. I appreciate that, Mukarram, Shripal.

  200. Hi David,

    So did you lodge a court case against the thief, the thief should be locked up so as to prevent any of this incidents to happen again.

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