Lessons Learned from a Hacked Blog

For six years, I wrote a blog about Nortel Networks called All About Nortel.

What started as an experiment to see if I could write a blog about a single company turned into a fascinating adventure as Nortel skewered itself into bankruptcy protection, before it was sadly sold off in bits and pieces.

With Nortel gone, the plan was to keep the blog alive as an archive of the demise of Canada’s flagship technology company. Once in a while, I’d update the blog if something interesting came along such as the trial involving ex-CEO Frank Beatty.

Well, I’m sad to say this isn’t possible any more after All About Nortel was recently hacked. I’m not sure how hackers penetrated the Web host’s servers and security systems, but all the files disappeared. When asked what happened, the host’s support team would only suggest that hackers do what they do because they can.

On one hand, it’s disappointing to see so much work evaporate into the digital abyss. But at the same time, it’s not the end of the world. Like everything, blogs stick around for so long before they’re abandoned, closed or hacked. After that, life goes on but you still have the experience and memories.

From a bigger picture perspective, it does make you think about the life span of blogs, Websites and all of our other digital “assets”. How long do they last? What happens when we no longer need or want them? And what happens to them when we’re no longer alive and kicking? Given we’re so early into the digital age, it’s not a subject that gets much attention but it’s definitely going to become an interesting issue.

And, of course, there are important lessons learned such as backing up your blogs and Websites on a regular basis, and making sure they’re as secure as possible. In hindsight, I should have known better, and this hacking episode would have easily handled. In any event, life goes on.

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  • Denim Smith

    Hi Mark –

    So sorry to hear about all that interesting work going down the drain in an instant. This subject that you describe as getting little attention is something I have been thinking about for a few years now and agree with your post. With Gizmodo’s Mat Honan’s accounts (life) getting hacked recently and losing his photos of his year-and-a-half baby is just frightening. Not only are we not backing up, but we’re also not diversifying.

    We just launched public beta of mi Lifemap web and iOS apps. We offer to store and organize your priceless memories in photos, videos, diary (text), and opt-in to backup FB, Twitter, 4Sq, and Flikr (to start) all on an interactive and intuitive timeline – the things you would run into a burning house to save – or how you’ve spent your time with the most meaningful people in your life.

    Your emotional assets. We’re not only increasingly creating more digital content and pushing it all over the web (fragmented), but we’re also not organizing it, we’re not controlling it, and with acquisitions, closures, pivots, changes in terms, etc. of web products and services, and ultimately our deaths, we owe it to our future selves to start thinking about backup, archiving, organizing, controlling for continuity these important pieces of life before its too late.

    As a new dad I think of the world today, with my daughter being born digital, myself with half my life in analogue and becoming exponentially digital, and my grandmother who has almost all analogue, and everyone in-between, and that we’re at a serious inflection point in ensuring we are archiving our family’s memories before its too late (~100 years of grandma’s life in photos, my parents, my life, and my daughter and her grandchildren — that’s ~200 years of memories that help tell the only history of our families’ for all of time and that companies want to own).

    We created an eBeneficiary system so that I can leave my private account to my wife and children posthumously to re-invent the digital attic box for the 21st C and beyond and give me piece of mind.

    Just thought I would share our vision for a sanctuary of your life that is yours to control and protect. Most importantly, to ensure that these memories are available for you at your fingertips anytime and anywhere, but also for when that time comes when we leave only bits of us and our time spent on earth spread across hard drives, devices and the web.

    Best of luck recovering your lost data.

    Best regards,


    • Mark Evans

      Denim: Thanks for the feedback, insight and information.

    • Stuxnet

      Mark you can ask for a forensic analysis in order to recover your data, if the hard disk did not experience a security wipe there is a great chance of recover your files.

  • Michael Graves

    Not backing up is well, to be blunt, just silly. Backups have been part of using computers forever. Tools like WordPress make backups so very easy to do manually. Just a few clicks. Further, plug-ins allow automation tricks like auto backup to an entire site to a Dropbox account.