A while ago one of my members on the Romanian Webmaster Forums Invatam.Net complained that he had some serious issues with a person who tried to spam the forums and got banned. The problem was also that my member lost his temper too and after kicking the spammer out made the bad decision of cursing him.
The spammer got mad too and threatened to attack the forums in all possible ways (spam bots and also hacking attempts). As you can imagine my member is shocked now to see what he got into. I responded to his question on the forums too, I think it would be a good idea to also mention my ideas to you here too, in case any of you might face something similar.
So .. The forum is under attack .. HOW CAN WE SURVIVE?
1. SECURITY and some more security.
First thing we need to have in mind in this case is a better security. The forums cannot be attacked that easy if we learn to protect them as we should. Normally we are not that interested in security modifications unless such an issue arises.
Now it would be an excellent time to head to the forum script developer’s site and look for ANTI SPAM modifications and also SECURITY ones (against hacking attempts). See the members’ reviews regarding some of them and take some time off other things and install those modifications.
2. Don’t forget .. BACK UP EVERYTHING
A hacking attempt is not such a huge disaster if you have recent backups. Most defacing attacks modify the index.php files. Have a file backup close. Enter the FTP client, get on the server and just download all the contents of the site on your PC. As you guessed, if anyone hacks the forums, you just upload the files.
Let’s not also forget the database. You can either set a cron job to backup the database. Or, just make a backup each night before going to sleep. In an ideal world we all keep close backups, but, if you didn’t pay much attention to this, please start from now on. Any hacking attempt will be nothing if you have backups. In minutes you can be back online.
3. Don’t let any new registrations go unnoticed
No one can post unless not registered. When I had issues with my Free IPB script (got it from the time it was free on my cPanel), I had to put anyone on Admin Account Activation. This meant they would register and I would visit the forums few times in a day and validate accounts. Those who were “spooky” got deleted.
For some days, until the war ends, you can also try this trick. If you have another admin too, you can use the other person too and work in turns.
4. All mods and admins on duty
In such hard moments you can really see how effective your staff is. Make sure all of them are active and ready to face the “attacks”. They will delete any troll messages or the spam your “enemy” will try to sneak in the content.
5. Promote more, work more, improve
Every time you have problems with the forums it’s a good idea to distract your members from the issue with some improvements. Do you have a new theme modification up the sleeve? Excellent, install it. A new modification, some nice features, more content and more promotion. Don’t let your members see you are struggling, they need to focus only on the content and community, you have to worry about the other issues.
The last advice: RELAX and don’t lose too much sleep. Everything can be handled and you don’t have to worry too much. Good security, an watchful eye on the community, help from the mods and improvements that show your community all is well. These are the small tricks that might help you get out of the problem.
And a final advice for anyone and my dear member: don’t lose temper online AT ALL. Don’t curse, don’t verbally abuse anyone. Be a gentleman all the time and such issues might not happen 🙂