The message came in from Google’s Adwords Division late on Sunday night. It read:
We wanted to alert you that one of your sites violates our Advertising Policies and as a result we aren’t displaying ads for any URLs on that site. Please note that any new ads pointing to that site will also be disapproved.
Super. Being a guy who typically focuses on spending my good energies on the things I can control, this was a moment where I thought, “I have no idea how to deal with this.”
Of course, I am not in the business of spreading malware on purpose, let alone do I have any idea how malware got in the scripts on my site in the first place. Someone must have hacked into my admin account and nestled in a clever little bot whose sole purpose was to inflict harm or to deceive people.
I didn’t understand the severity of the situation until Google and Firefox blocked access to my site altogether.
Batten Down The Hatches
My brain did the typical, prepare-for-the-apocalypse scenario as I imagined no one ever coming back to my website for the remainder of time. How would I feed myself? How would I make a living? Who would talk to me ever again?
It is arresting to think how quickly my brain went into Def Con 1 mode and how perilous a journey that can be if you don’t get out of it quickly.
I caught myself during that downward spiral into Chaos-ville and I reached out to Google, my designer and my web host but alas, it was a Sunday night and all those people were enjoying, “Not work o’clock”.
Life is complicated. Things happen to us out of our control to which we try to find reason for them. And the only control that really mattered at this moment was damage control. The problem wasn’t me, the problem was the problem. There are people (my designer, friends) and things (anti-virus tools) that can solve the problem quite expeditiously but instead, my brain’s immediate reaction was to focus on my bad luck and how everyone is going to hate me from here to eternity for having my site hacked.
Things are fixed now. Space time continuum did not rip a hole through our reality and my universe did not collapse in on itself.
Next time you are the victim of “random acts of crap”, don’t internalize the situation, simply ask yourself: What are the quickest steps I can take to alleviate or solve the problem? This puts the power and control back in your hands and keeps you from feeling that you are careening down a mountain road in the backseat of an unmanned car with your hands tied behind your back.
I learned that I was not changing my passwords enough. I learned a bunch of useful information off of Google’s Webmaster Tools. I learned that my readers are extremely supportive and understanding people. I learned that Sucuri is a very useful $89 spent per year protecting my site.
The thing is, you can’t prepare for everything. Unfortunate circumstances will happen. All we can do is learn from them and move on. If you prepared for every possible hurdle along the way, you’d never get started.