Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Payload of the Article Directory hack - a little destructive, eh?

Happened again. That GeoCities hack into article directories has a bit of a payload... Something at (or something similar) occasionally lets lose on a bug which tries to take over the computer through a virus. It is exploiting the problems IE has with infections in general. The article submitter I use is based on the built-in IE code base which exists in WinXP.

So it's not surprising that this "little hack" is delivering a payload. That alert - which my firewall first told me about - is what started my research.

And the result is that all these insecure article directories will be excluded from my own and others' article submitters. Unfortunate, but that's the way it goes. I can't afford to risk my own computers and operation based on their insecurity. No change to the forum post that these sites were hacked - no comment by the AD group. Essentially, the handling is to reload from back-ups. I think this is going to be disruptive to those admins who don't have their basics in. And these are the ones who are most easily affected by this hack.

Someone pointed out that if Blogger was hacked, would this reflect on my credibility - well, yes and no. I'd simply pick up and move - but as Google has some pretty high-powered programmers working for them, it's not as much as apples and oranges.

AD is a free script and is easy to install. But being a webmaster isn't as easy as just installing a free script on your server and letting it run. There is a great deal of homework one has to do with security. I've got a binder full of printed security data as big as your upper arm (remember, I farm and can throw hay bales across the loft even since I've past 50 - my idea of upper arms is probably greater than average) - and this is just on security. (And way more than this on disk.)

Personally, I run with three firewalls (one on every Windoze machine, one on my router, and one through my network provider) and anti-virus everywhere except my Linux box - which only needs a filter to keep its Windoze files from spreading through the network... And I really should upgrade to removable hard-drives and do better backups across the board locally. So any AD webmaster is unfortunately warned to check their own system and, if it is still fine, do a backup and download it to somewhere secure.

Back to AD - This is now going to shake things up a bit. Just went through a check of the top 20 article directories and they aren't bothered a bit. Because a site has a PR5 pagerank doesn't mean much if your house is built on cards. Hard won, perhaps, but easy go. Life in the fast lanes can have some messy wrecks.

Those sites which were insecure are going to be deleted from databases. My article submitter program has already issued an update which pared probably a hundred sites off its lists. And so those sites are going to lose traffic. And page rank, and Alexa standings.

But for us article submitters, there are plenty left - and probably more coming on all the time. If I only submitted to the top sites, I'd still be fine as far as generating traffic and list subscribers.

Meanwhile, I'm deep-sixing all the directories so affected. Some time later, I may or may not re-include them. But for now, I have to defend my own systems and income sources.

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Update: Just today, I've had to remove 70 article directories which were infected. I can't tell if this infection is spreading or not at this point. I do know that it's very annoying.

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Further update, a couple days later: Interestingly, this has sped up my article submitter. It turns out that those sites which are the least administered are the most problematic.

Before, I was "submitting" to about 160 or so directories for each article - and was getting out about 5 articles a week, since I had to constantly babysit the program. Now, I'm going out to about 90 article directories, but I only have to intercede 2 or 3 times. This means I can get out about 3 articles a day or more. I wasn't actually getting out to 160 directories, because the program would hang and I'd have to skip some. So, by cutting down "40%", I've increased the speed of submission by 300%. This means I can get 1350 backlinks from 15 articles where I was getting 800 backlinks from 5. And as these are different articles, I have a greater chance of showing up higher on search engines...

Quality counts.

I've read of some authors who only submit to the 5 very top article directories - but submit 10-20 articles to these. They have a high opt-in rate and since this is done very quickly, they have more of the week to spend on product creation, testing, tweaking, etc.

I use the semi-automatic article submission to free my time. It's on all the time with the next article in a cue (actually, opened up on the text editor, ready for another copy/paste). I'm busy writing or editing on another machine or at least a different screen.

Different strokes. But I thought you'd like to know about this speed-up. It supports the argument I was having with myself earlier about submitting only to the top tier directories versus submitting to as many as you can.

Quality counts - and is more profitable.
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