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Jul 20, 2001
Blog Post

We've been hacked! Welcome to Bookstore Launch Hell

SUMMARY: No summary available.
I was going to write a happy column this week, full of pride in our new online "Knowledge Store." I was going to invite you to visit it yourself in order to give me your expert, content-insider, opinion on how we can tweak the design to make it even better.

Then, after endless testing, we launched on Wednesday.

Five minutes later the lovely new store was hacked.

Hacked, and hacked and hacked again, with some type of repeating program that shot the servers down, let them stagger up and then two minutes later punched them down again. At first I couldn't figure out what was wrong, because I was getting pleasant "You Got an Order!" emails from the credit card processing system at AuthorizeNet at the same time as dozens of emails from readers saying "Hey this link isn't working!"

It was week from hell. The techies would say things are fixed now. We emailed everybody saying, 'It's ok, it's fixed, go back to play at the store!" And then everything would break again.

Lessons learned? Hackers happen. It happened to Britney Spears, it happened to us, it will happen to you someday.

I am profoundly grateful that we chose a system that didn't collect and save credit card numbers. So my customers' security wasn't breached. I'm also grateful that I'm in email publishing because it's more personal and interactive than print. Dozens of readers emailed support and informational notes -- two even offered the services of their own company's tech teams!

Thanks aside, now I feel karmatically that I've paid for every single ant I've squashed this Summer. It's time for the wheel of fate to turn.

So, cross your fingers. (And do let me know if you have any good ideas to improve the store. Thanks.)

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