If there is one thing I have learned in nine years of building and fixing websites, it is that we are all equal in the eyes of hackers who will attack and try to get into any site they can.
This time, it is my turn in the hot seat.
Early this morning I was informed by a monitoring bot that my site was down. A few minutes of discussion with my hosting company revealed that the site wasn't down so much as it was under attack. Hackers are trying to get in, and have been hitting my site so hard that they had essentially taken the site offline via a DDOS attack.
DDOS is when someone (usually a hacker) uses a lot of hacked bots, websites, servers, or internet connected devices to overwhelm a target website or service with the goal of either shutting the target down or breaking in. In my case, they are trying to get in. They have not, and since I have good security I do not expect them to.
My site is up to date, my security plugin is fully set up and active, and I have enabled the "under attack" setting on Cloudflare. (This is why you saw that splash screen before visiting the site.)
Thanks to my preparations, this attack is not a dire emergency but a petty annoyance that will have to be mitigated until the hackers give up.
That is a huge improvement over the last time I came under a DDOS attack, back in 2013. I was still so new to this that I didn't know what was happening at the time, and to make matters worse my site was attacked while I was traveling back from a conference in Vancouver. There I was, trying to troubleshoot over airport wifi, and not knowing anyone I could ask for help. I did eventually thwart that attack, but it was a nightmare - and as I look back, that was the moment I decided to really learn how to take care of and protect my website.
It's funny the things you don't realize until years later, isn't it?