Tuesday, May 04, 2010

When Potential Guests Cannot Access Your Web Site

What is the worst thing that can happen to an innkeeper, besides having the inn burn down or renting it out to a wedding party where the bridegroom turns out to be a Russian mafia don and someone plants a bomb under the antique staircase, or dealing with a major bed bug infestation? In 2010, I would say victimization by a hacker must be right up there on the nightmare list, so my Go-Fly-A-Kite award goes to all the hackers of this world.

My son, in Los Angeles, created the Chez Sven Web site and right now his pregnant wife is in the ICU, with a major asthma attack, caused by the Santa Ana winds, so dealing with hackers for his mom’s Web site is the very least of his concerns. He thought the problem had been fixed Friday, prior to the disruption in his own life, but the Google warning has not been removed from our site. I relayed this worrisome information to him last night by email. He checked it out upon his return from the hospital and sent the following reply: “So those stupid hackers have put back some code onto the site... I've deleted a bunch of it but they have a back door so they can inject some whenever they want. It's more complicated to close or delete the back door. Ahhhhhh... so sorry, I know it's hurting your business. Trying to get it to work.”

So, yesterday I woke up to this message, as well as a nice note from a client in Germany who will not book without visiting the Web site, a perfectly legitimate decision. I emailed what I knew about the warning. Another potential customer opted to reserve her second choice, since access to our Web site has become foolhardy. Our daily hits are way, way down as people shy away, and with reason. It's enough to make this innkeeper pull out all her hair. Why, oh why, do anonymous hackers, in God-knows which foreign country, find it amusing to disrupt the lives of perfect strangers? They even contrive to install a "back door" for future shenanigans. Have you ever had any experience with this type of Cyberspace mayhem?