a tech update

If you’ve had trouble accessing this site in the last few days:

  • On Wednesday, my web hosting company had a major outage that affected numerous sites and lasted over four hours. This site was completely inaccessible during that time.
  • On Thursday night, the site was attacked by … something. It was inaccessible to some people for a while. You might still encounter a JavaScript browser check because I have higher than normal amounts of security turned on while I’m dealing with it.
  • On top of all that, over the last month there’s been a widespread attack on many sites, including this one, via redirects and false error messages. It’s been mostly resolved, but some are getting through here and there.

All of which is to say, if you’ve had trouble with the site recently, please know I’m on it. Thanks for your patience.

{ 94 comments… read them below }

  1. AutoEngineer57*

    Sorry this is happening to you, Alison!

    For what it’s worth, I was having major withdrawal on Wednesday while the site was down.

  2. WantonSeedStitch*

    Ugh, this has to be even more exasperating for you than it is for us! Thanks for all the work you do, Alison. This site is both entertaining as hell AND an amazing resource, one that I always recommend to people who have an interest in management.

  3. The New Normal*

    I’m sorry that is happening to you, Alison! It takes so much of your time maintaining this blog for our entertainment and education, but the withdrawals were REAL on Wednesday. I did just get a browser check and feared I had done something wrong, so I am glad to hear it is just tighter security. Hopefully things will be better going forward!

  4. anon4this*

    I’ve noticed this site having issues for a while. When the page opens, I automatically stop it from loading so it doesn’t crash.
    I thought it was weird a “.org” was experiencing this, but i think do to the nature of an advice columnist site in general and AAM’s s fourth-wave of feminism approach for some answers, this site is def getting attacked from outside forces.

    1. Janet Pinkerton*

      I notice that it crashes more quickly for me when I have comments collapsed rather than expanded. I figured it was a plug in issue, maybe.

    2. Hummer on the Hill*

      Yeah, I had been noticing that when I accessed this site on a Windows PC, I got a faux Blue Screen of Death, and I had to use Task Manager to kill the browser. Happened quite a few times, but 3 third-party antivirus progs turned up nothing. Didn’t have a prob with Safari on my iPad, so that’s what I’ve been using. What a headache this must be! Hope it’s ironed out soon.

  5. Tech Issues*

    I just got a fake redirect. Thank you for posting this so I knew what I thought was weird was actually weird. I closed the window and take the address in directly. Sorry this is happening to you!

      1. Silver Radicand*

        If you clicked yes to the User Account Control dialog box that popped up for me, I recommend completing a deep virus scan at some point.
        It could be harmless, or might very much not be.

      2. Gatomon*

        Disconnect your PC from the internet and run a virus scan. Windows 10 has built-in antivirus software now if you don’t have anything else already installed. If that/any other antivirus software comes back clean, I’d reconnect to the internet and run a second scan using Malwarebytes, just to be safe.

  6. LongTimeReader*

    Sorry you’re facing all of this! I was worried about you and I hope it gets better soon. Thanks for your work, commitment, and clear-eyed way to think about work issues.

  7. Miss Meghan*

    As an aside, I just want to appreciate the way Alison has detailed the issue and what is being done without being overly apologetic about something that isn’t her fault. A great example of addressing problems exactly in the way she advises.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Yep. Walking the talk.

      Thank you, for all you do Alison and all you go through to do it!

  8. Submerged tenths*

    Figured that was what was going on. Thanks for all you do, and sorry this is happening.

  9. swfgoesketo*

    Thanks for letting us know. I was super sad when I couldn’t take my AaM breaks; they are a favorite ritual of mine!

  10. Guacamole Bob*

    So sorry you’re having this trouble. Starting this morning I get a Cloudflare page for a few seconds as the site is loading – hope that’s legit!

    1. Mel_05*

      Yes, I’ve been getting that too. I hope that’s part of protecting the page and not something going wrong with it!

      1. Okumura Haru*

        It’s part of the protection package. I’ve seen that pop up on occasion on other sites that I visit – I suspect after a DDOS attempt.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        I googled cloudflare and it looked like a legitimate company providing this kind of thing, so I wasn’t too worried, but glad to have it confirmed.

        Good luck, Alison!

      2. Chaordic One*

        I’m glad to hear this. I was mildly worried when it popped up that it might be malware or some other part of the problem.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      It’s no problem on this end, if this is all it takes to protect your site, Alison! It’s a few seconds that all.

      1. Chinook*

        As someone with limited tech security experience, I am glad to learn that I should have googled when that page came up. I hope AAM doesn’t mind if I screen shot this chat to use in my intro to computers class – I am always trying to include real life scenarios of security breaches to show the students why it is important to be vigilant. “Thankfully”, the CRA and Ontario Nurses Union have been recent enough to be ale to refer to them (the ONLY good thing about those incidents.)

        1. OrigCassandra*

          Some of my favorite sites for security news (URLs mangled a bit to keep AAM from yet another moderation hassle):

          Brian Krebs, krebsonsecurity dot com
          the Malwarebytes blog (really terrific writers there, sales content low)
          Naked Security (safe for work, I promise)

          There are also broader tech sites that have good infosec writers: Ars Technica, the Verge, even Lifehacker.

          1. Okumura Haru*

            Also, the podcast Security Now (part of the TWIT network) is really great resource for infosec news. It can be extremely technical, but it’s still a great resource.

            1. Gatomon*

              Can I add the Beers with Talos podcast in with your list? It’s a little more geared for security pros, but it has a more relaxed format that I think makes it pretty accessible.

    3. AnotherAlison*

      I was wondering that, too. Glad it’s been answered. My company was doing something with my virus software Wed-Fri too, and I wasn’t sure which side it was coming from.

  11. Hare under the moon with silver spoon*

    Sorry to hear you have to deal with this – really appreciate all your amazing work – and also great community you maintain.

  12. B Wayne*

    Ah, no wonder I have been getting scanned or some such for 5 seconds or so before access to the site today. Good to be on top of it and respond so quickly.

  13. Phony Genius*

    I was sometimes getting redirected away from the site after about 30 seconds, usually to some fake site claiming a browser error or something telling you to click to fix it. Was that part of this problem?

  14. Mockingjay*

    I wondered what the cause of the disruption was. We also got a major upgrade of our system network and a Windows update at the same time. The system HBSS was working overtime. (Successfully, I might add! My company’s IT is the best I’ve ever used. To all you unsung IT heroes, THANK YOU.)

  15. Charlotte Lucas*

    I’ve noticed an uptick in hacked sites. Part my job includes checking links, and I keep coming across hacked sites, especially if the organization has certain words in their name.

  16. Nanc*

    My family IT expert suspects you have displeased our Technology Overlords. Resolve to recite “Hail, Nanotech” 100 times and do not view cute animal videos for 24 hours.
    Kidding–sorry you’re having the issues.
    [Hail, Nanotech]

    1. Things That Make You Go Hmm*

      I’m onboard with “Hail, Nanotech” but I absolutely refuse not to view cute animal videos for an entire 24 hours!

  17. Chinook*

    Thank you for your patience in dealing with this. I imagine it is not what you signed up for when you started this site so many years ago. Please know that your hard work has made a difference in my life as well as in the lives of the people I recommended you to.

  18. Jay*

    I’m glad to hear your site is safe again! I don’t know what I’d do without my regular doses of “well, at least I don’t work THERE”.

  19. Mimmy*

    I have been getting occasional errors recently and have been wondering what’s been going on because the site is always reliable. I really appreciate the update and the transparency!

    1. BeenThere*

      Love QC! It’s my favourite webcomic and I second that this is the greatest cover letter ever.

  20. Kimmybear*

    Echoing others…I was having withdrawal and thank you for the transparenct. And as an IT professional…it’s been a hell of a week. ;)

  21. booksbooksmorebooks*

    Sorry to hear it Alison! It’s definitely been a week. Feels like the last US election all over again… unsurprisingly. Going to be a very interesting month. (The amount of Russian ghost spam I saw just in analytics systems was annoyingly absurd. Totally unsubtle, too.)

    1. Nita*

      Funny that you say that. I was also reminded of last election season. The only time my company’s website was brought down by a web attack was in 2016, two weeks before the election. I don’t think it’s a coincidence. The internet’s a pretty big battlefield these days, after all.

  22. Jay*

    Sorry, bit I think I accidentally put both of my posts under this heading when I meant to put the second one on the the Open Thread. You can just delete it, if you like. I’ll redo it on the right thread.
    Sorry for the confusion.

  23. Beth*

    Aha, that’s why I went through a check before being admitted here. Glad you’re back up and running!

  24. Abogado Avocado*

    Alison, I, too, figured something was up — and also figured you were on it (because this blog shows you’re too dedicated to let things slide!). Just know that your work is well worth waiting for and well worth refreshing the page to see if the virus program in my computer will allow me through. I’m sure this is stressful, which is why we, your loyal fans, understand and will be patient!

  25. AngelicGamer, the Visually Impared Peep*

    I’ve been getting fake blue screen of death. It was a heart attack the first time it happened and now I just do a deep scan whenever it pops up. I’ve been using Firefox as the site seems to lock up in Chrome but I might go back and try it again in Chrome.

  26. apples or oranges*

    Have you looked at the plugins you’re using? I can’t look beyond your view-source and BuiltWith, but seeing what versions are there, the code for a lot of them is severely deprecated and outdated. It seems the number of them you have are causing page lag errors and what you may be seeing as “attacks”. Could just be the bulky code and extraneous overhead is causing some of the issues.

    1. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      +1 As someone who works with CMS, keeping plugins/modules updated is the first thing advice. Especially the third-party ones.

  27. KuklaRed*

    And this is why I am working for a major transportation authority to create and provide cybersecurity awareness training. The amount and severity of cyber attacks all around the world is astonishing. I now receive all kinds of alerts that are sent out from the Homeland Security site and if I read too much, I start having nightmares.

    I wish you the best with all this, Alison. This is painful to deal with.

    1. Anonymous*

      Sorry, nesting fail! And Alison, sorry you’re dealing with this and I hope it gets sorted out soon!

  28. Tidewater 4-1009*

    They attacked you, an angel. smh.
    All I noticed was the digest emails that normally arrive around 11 am CT didn’t come a couple of days. It didn’t come today either, if that info is helpful.
    I’m “lucky” I was so busy I didn’t notice the outages. :)

  29. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

    FYI, somehow I was unable to comment in the open thread. I got a “you’re commenting too quickly” error message. =(

  30. GH*

    Thanks for the information. Noticed the security check redirect today and was concerned about what was going on.

    How frustrating for you. Good luck with resolving this problem.

  31. Charlotte Lucas*

    Not that I’ve come across. One was definitely redirecting to a Russian troll farm. (Note to trolls: the word “freedom” is used in all kinds of contexts. All you did was redirect traffic from families with special-needs kids.)
    I have heard WordPress is specifically having a hacking problem right now.

  32. musician*

    Another possibly related “symptom”: I use Feedly to read (but almost always click through to access the comments), and this post and the later ones posted today have not shown up at all on my list. I’m going to try removing it and resubscribing, but I suspect it’s related to whatever is causing the other issues.

  33. Anonymous*

    Thanks for this info, Alison. I was wondering why I was getting all those weird “Your browser is being checked” whenever I tried to load the site, and debating whether to bring it to your attention. Now I know, and I didn’t have to bother you with any questions. :- D

    I hope everything is sorted soon. I’m sure this has been a major pita for you. Thanks again, for the news update, and for everything you do here.

  34. Wheee!*

    This may be by design while you work stuff out, but askamanager.com no longer forwards to askamanager.org. It provides a Apache 2 Test Page instead that’s designed to be the first step in setting up the website.

  35. Keymaster of Gozer*

    You’d do an excellent job in tech support communications. Post was honest, concise, pitched at a level the general public can understand…

    So, so much better than ‘we experienced some issues. End of message’.

    (Btw some of our websites were hit pretty hard too, but all I was allowed to say was ‘minor issues, quickly fixed’. Neither were true)

  36. Viva*

    Another bug that I’ve been experiencing across browsers and devices lately is that the “Allow Cookies” Button doesn’t work. Like you can see the button, but it doesn’t react when I hover with the mouse and it is not clickable. So the cookie overlay cannot be removed.
    Additionally, the same happens with the link on the bottom of the page to go to page 2. When I want to go there I have to google “askamanager page 2”.
    Both bugs happen in Chrome normal and inkognito mode on windows and firefox on iPhone. I am accessing from Germany.

  37. agnes*

    I think you might have also had a cloned site or something that was carrying a virus. That’s why our IT department thought after my computer got ‘sick.’ Not 100% sure, but it’s something you might want to check out.

  38. ScaredBanker*

    Oh I’m so glad to hear this (but also very bummed you’re going through all of this!)! I thought that my IT department had blocked the page and I was panicking!

Comments are closed.