Forum has been hacked (again)

Update: New Forum (http://www.pauljholden.com/newforum) online.

I’ll be changing the old forums.pauljholden.com to point to it in the next day or two.

And I don’t have the time (BIG job on at the moment – computer related – not comics sadly) to get it sorted – attempting to restore a backup has killed the forum. So I don’t know what to do. Comments?

[Update]
To answer Garen’s questions

“How much bandwidth/cost”?

I’ve no idea, I pay a fixed amount for an ‘unlimited’ bandwidth use – with http://www.phpwebhosting.com for about $9.90 a month and I’ve used ’em so far for a couple of years. Never any major problems (it’s hosted in the states though). I pay about £10 per annum for my domain name (might be less, can’t remember). So the costs are tiny (and, in fact, I’d be paying them anyway for my own use)

“Do I know anything about the nature of the hacks?”

Not really, I suspect they’re worms making their way round the internet exploiting holes in phpBB – which has put me off phpBB a little, and if I was gonna do it again I’d set up my own – which would be impervious to most worms (after all, it’d be custom built) but easier for a real person to hack (unless they’re just a little script kiddie who’s found some l337 hacks on the internets – as the kids say). There is a NEW version of phpBB but I’d need to tie it up with an automatic backup (which I thought I had but turns out it wasn’t so great) for me to feel happy about having it.

Normally I’d re-create it all, but this month is just tight for time for me (usually not so bad). The nice thing about the forum was that it was growing organically, although it probably should’ve been part of something like bugpowder – but, I think, it had a different vibe which would be hard to recreate.

So, my options are: 1) rebuild the form (may take a couple of months) 2) redirect the forum to somewhere else suitable … any suggestions?

– pj

Author: PJ

Belfast based Comic Artist who won’t shut up on twitter.

26 thoughts on “Forum has been hacked (again)”

  1. Well, it’s a real shame. I don’t think so much about losing the posts, just the sections etc. As that takes a bit more effort. But if it’s going to be a lot of work repeatedly, then I can’t argue that you should rebuild it all.

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  2. Well, it’s a great pity, as the membership was getting so high and wide. I wouldn’t know how to go about setting up a new forum myself, otherwise I would to save you the trouble. Dang! I think we’ll all really miss it if we lose it. Anyone got any other options?

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  3. PJ, don’t worry about it… we’ve all really appreciated having the forums (I in particular will need to find a whole new way to waste time at work!) but you shouldn’t have to be spending all your time clearing up after these @sshole hacker people… who I just cannot express the magnitude of my contempt for in words, but I digress…

    So, suggestions for a new place for us all to go hang out, people? If we stop wasting time at work talking about small press comics, we’re letting the terrorists win!!

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  4. Huge shame, but I also don’t want you to spend precious time on the forum, you’ve been very generous already with your time and bandwidth. I did thionk about setting up a Rainbow Orchid forum a couple of months ago, but I just didn’t get enough posts to justify it, really. I do have phpBB (or whatever it’s called!) downloaded but don’t have the time myself… which is why I appreciate your time on it all the more!

    I do feel as though most of the comics on the forum made up some kind of loose collective, and had thoughts about suggesting making it a bit more formal somehow… but I dunno… ?

    Just out of interest, how much webspace/bandwidth did the forum use up? Also, do you know anything about the nature of the hacks?

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  5. Again thanks from us as well for everything you’ve done so far PJ and as with everyone else I agree you shouldn’t spend precious time on sorting it out.

    Afraid I have no helpful suggestions, but I’ll post a plea for help/ideas on the Bugpowder list.

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  6. Big kick in the teeth. I certainly enjoyed hanging around on there, and I’d love to see something replace it, even if it has to wait a few months, or it’s just a Yahoogroup, or whatever.

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  7. What a ‘kick in the baws!’ It’s a real shame, I really enjoy the forum, I wouldn’t have a clue, or probably have the time at the mo to go about setting one up, otherwise I’d give it serious consideration. I totally agree it had it’s own vibe, and it’d be a real shame to see it go the way of all bytes. I’ve nowhere to go now, it was my only social circle!! I hope there’s a solution out there, but ‘fraid I’ve no experience of this stuff.

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  8. Got to chip in and say if you don’t have time you shouldn’t worry about it PJ, the fact that the forum existed was great and it’s sad that some twerp decided to ruin it. Wish I had any sort of computer skills to help out. How about copying the new look bugpowder site and turn the forum into a blog where we just post things and people can comment as they see fit – I am right in thinking that a blog can have multiple profiles?
    In the meantime, I’d hate to loose touch with the people I’ve been in contact with thanks to the forum, hope you’ve got my email address!

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  9. I find it hard to believe worms are responsible, they are a lower form of life, more used to grubbing around blindly in their own filth than… oh, wait a minute.

    I’d like to think that this could move on to something else, a deciated British small press site and forum, maybe we should ask Mr Redeye or Smallzone if they would be interested. Certainly there would be room for something much bigger in theory. One forum to rule them all, and on the internet, bind them.

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  10. I’m looking into setting up a forum and a webpage for UK independents. No promises yet as I’m at the ‘looking into’ stage and want to see how much of my time it will take to administer, and how much moolah it will cost in bandwidth and stuff… but so far I quite like to the look of things. I don’t want to usurp PJ in any way, as if when your busy period was over you wanted to restart Pencil Monkey, I think we’d all be back in a flash. But I also know that busy periods never actually end, you just have to manage your time differently if you want to shovel more stuff in to do!

    Cav – I also thought about a Yahoo group, but there is already BugPowder… it’s just not used much for some reason.

    Paul – SmallZone and RedEye: I think Shane and Baz are up to their eyes in projects, but it should certainly be integrated with them. I’ll be back soon with a decision… any thoughts and comments welcome (I suppose on this temporary ‘comments’ version of the forum! 🙂 )

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  11. A yahoogroup could be cool but… I dunno, I’m in a couple already and get enough e-mails, frankly! Also they never seem to have that ‘live’ feel that the PJ forums had. I like the idea of a forum / board, as it’s up to you whether you look at it and when… Or as phd suggests, a group blog might be cool – I think as long as you could do the organising-posts-by-category thing (yours does that, eh Garen?) it could be quite nifty…

    PS this might seem like a minor point, but I really liked the relatively ‘vanilla’ look of the forum as it looked fairly innocuous – a lot easier for browsing in an open-plan office! Flashy graphics could lose me my job! (Is it just me that does most of my posting at work?)

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  12. Building a better (bionic) forum.

    Garen, I suspect the reason that the pj/pencilmonkey forums works is cus they were no hassle for anyone (me included). No advertising (no banner ads, nothing too complex – as Neill says, they were nice and vanilla) plus they were nicely segmented (although it was starting to get quite big) but more importantly it had some good people – I knew building an area for Jason and PVS would bring in those guys plus people who knew them and this attracted more and more good people. I like the phpBB layout I just wish it wasn’t so bleeding insecure.

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  13. Been away from the computer for a couple of days and this happens! The forum was a great meeting ground for us all and to have it taken away by a complete *#$%head is a real kick in the goolies. I can’t suggest anything either I’m afraid as I’m very very computer illiterate. If one of you guys do come up with an alternative though, I’ll be all too willing to contribute/ help out as best as I can. Just say the word.

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  14. PJ – why is phpBB so insecure, is it because it is vulnerable to a SQL injection attack? Do you think that’s what the hack might have been? I presume the hacker got into the admin in order to do that much damage (?) in which case it might just be a case of customising the code a bit to bolster up the admin access.

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  15. Ach, just back from two weeks in the wilderness then I find this. I’ll also be thinking about forums and other stuff for the UK Indie Scene. Think I have an idea about forums but some other ideas to tie in are nagging at me.

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  16. I’ll be honest, I’d be interested in setting up another ‘Pencilmonkey’-type forum, but have no idea how to go about it, so if nothing else is forthcoming I’lm willing to give it a go, but I’d need constant technical advice from start to finish to get it going etc. (I so know I’ll probably regret saying that, but . . .)

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  17. Yahoo group are okay, but like Neill I tend to get a bit sick of the emails and end up dropping out. After fianlly checking out ask.metafilter.com I’m sure the forum could make the move to a blog style and retain it’s ‘vanilla’ welcoming friendly enviroment. Of course, I still have no idea how to set these things up!

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  18. I think yahoo forums are great for specific things, and ongoing projects, but not so good for something like this. If someone were to do it, I’d even pay a small subscription fee if it was well managed.

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  19. Thanks for all the posts. I think I will try and recreate the forum — I’ve figured out a way to backup (just occured to me it’s just a simple mysql database so I simply write my own backup procedure in php and get it to autorun every night to create a copy of the data). It’ll by phpBB (again) – so fingers crossed we’ll be ok this time. Be a couple of days before I get it done though.

    – pj

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  20. That’s great news PJ, cheers in advance for the hard work.

    If I had one request, it’s that the individual comic forums would take up less heght, so you can view more titles at once.

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  21. Hello, there. I was checking out an old link to The Girlie Comic and noticed the forums were down. 😦 Good to see there’s an impending solution to the problem, though. 🙂 Anyway – my pals & I are in the process of setting up a kind of trash-culture multi-site and we’ve got a bunch of forums to go with it. (These are also phpBB2, so I hope the worms don’t try and sneak in through our back passage! I don’t like worms much.) Anyway, you’ll find our message boards here: http://www.trashland.co.uk

    If you look under Comics, I’ve set up a UK Independents Forum. Feel free to treat this as a holiday home away from home whenever you’re not hanging out here. You could use it to promote your work, or your sites or these forums, or whatever. At the moment you don’t need to register to post. But if one of you – perhaps Mr Holden? – would like to do be a moderator for that board then I can make it so.

    How are things going with your art, PJ? I used to blether with you at scriptdroids.
    Awra Best
    roger simian

    FORUMS:
    http://www.trashland.co.uk

    ALTERNATIVE GIRLS:
    http://www.troublepunk.com

    MUSIC & TRASH-CULTURE:
    http://www.broyism.com

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