Last week, it started again. Numerous people on Twitter from various sites around the world reported my site looked like this:
Nothing on my site itself indicated any changes but something was hacking my Bluehost-sourced content and replacing it with its own. I was unfamiliar (as with all things to do with web hosting) with how this was happening, and (spoilers) I never figured that out.
What I did discover, with the help of Jared Lander from Bluehost, was how to mitigate the problem. (Thanks Jared!) Forcing the site to exclusively use
https links through a WordPress plug-in bypassed the whole “evil hackers will redirect my
http content” thing. “All” it took was asking everyone to clear caches, restart web browser, or wait for the changes to propagate over time. It’s been 7 days and I have not had any reports of further issues.
The plug-in in question is Really Simple SSL, which automatically configures websites to use secure links: just get an SSL certificate, install the plugin, and activate it. It’s step 1 that’s a burden in many cases.
This cleared up the non-English main page advertising (for those who saw it) and apparently something that affected my RSS feed. I’m not entirely sure what that was, but there had been some stray BOM characters leaking into that which resolved once the SSL/https problem was addressed. Dave Jones wrote me that my feed, which hadn’t been validating, began working properly after the plug-in.
Much as I hope that my issues are over, I’m assured by a number of people contacting me that it’s not possible to run a secure website anymore without the help of professionals.
I’ll do the best I can. I’ll keep backing up my content. But that’s about all I can do.
Thank you again to everyone who reached out to me with support, feedback, and information.