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This evening I did my twice-weekly check to see if any of my WordPress blogs have been exploited and what do you know…CenterNetworks has been exploited. I was checking every day but moved it to twice a week checks after the last security patch for WordPress that moved the blog to 2.8.4. The exploit took place last night as far as I can tell and has already been indexed in Google so there goes my traffic and earnings.
When the “big hacker” event happened earlier this month, WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg noted, “The only thing that I can promise will keep your blog secure today and in the future is upgrading.” As of this evening, I can only assume his promise no longer stands valid.
I can’t tell whether the exploits are coming through WordPress or my host, Rackspace. Rackspace always says it’s on the WordPress side. I am happy to provide whatever I can to WordPress to help them figure out what happened and I can only hope that eventually they get this fixed. Rackspace personnel called me this evening and noted that the permissions are all set correctly on the server. If it’s something on my end, I’d like to know that as well.
Update Midnight: Rackspace is now running a XSS checker on this site.
Update 4:30pm Saturday: Rackspace is now saying that they believe someone logged into CN and manually changed the template file. They are supposed to be sending over some logs soon.
Update: 8pm Saturday: I’ve received the log files – unfortunately they don’t show much beyond someone editing the footer include. If someone from WordPress would like the files, please contact me.
Each and every time that my WordPress sites are exploited and/or hacked, I seriously regret moving away from Drupal where in over three years I wasn’t hacked once.
Automattic, makers of the popular blogging platform WordPress, have announced the acquisition of After the Deadline today. After the Deadline has created a contextual spelling and grammar checker. Financial terms of the acquisition were not released. Raphael Mudge, After the Deadline founder, has a post about the acquisition and the steps that led up to the eventual deal. Raphael talks about being rejected from YCombinator, comparisons to Microsoft spellcheckers and the “misused word” detection.
Automattic founder Matt Mullenweg has a post detailing the spelling and grammar checker including his note that 1.4 million blog posts were published on wordpress.com blogs last week (the number only includes wp.com hosted blogs and not self-hosted blogs like CenterNetworks). Matt says he was “blown away” after looking at After the Deadline especially after learning just one person created the tool.
If you run a self-hosted WordPress blog, you can download the spell checker as a plugin. Now there is absoutelly no reeson to spull a post wring.
Automattic founder Matt Mullenweg has announced that they have acquired poll service PollDaddy today. Today’s acquisition comes nearly a year to the day of their Gravatar acquisition and less than a month after the IntenseDebate acquisition. PollDaddy is based in Ireland. No financial terms were disclosed.
The PollDaddy team has posted an explanation about the acquisition which notes that PollDaddy servers have been shifted to the Automattic data center. Automattic CEO Tony Schneider notes that Scott Rafer helped broker the deal.
Matt notes that PollDaddy is available today as a plugin for hosted WordPress customers and the first version is also available for self-hosted customers. Just like other commenting services had to sigh when IntenseDebate was acquired, all other polling services better be stepping up their game now. My bet is that within six months PollDaddy and IntenseDebate will function like Akismet for WordPress installations.
I guess now we know where at least some of their $29.5 million funding round from earlier this year has gone. Who will Automattic acquire next? Perhaps the answer lies within Matt’s future of WordPress keynote. Adam Ostrow believes companies with large bank accounts will scoop up companies who might not be able to withstand any economic downturn.
Earlier today, Automattic announced that they acquired blog commenting service IntenseDebate. We’ve covered IntenseDebate a number of times including a technical interview on HTMLCenter. I was able to grab a couple of minutes with marketing director Michael Koenig and he agreed to answer some questions regarding the acquisition. The conversation is below.
Allen: Were you shopping for an acquisition when Automattic came calling?
Michael: We were not actively shopping for a sale. We believe that IntenseDebate has a very solid value proposition and were quite optimistic about our chances of success in the market. The opportunity to join the Automattic team, however, clearly accelerated our ability to put IntenseDebate in front of a much wider audience. It’s not everyday that you’re given such a great opportunity for quick, large-scale growth!
Allen: What synergies do you see with being part of the Automattic family?
Michael: Our goals have always been to enhance the commenting experience and provide the tools for blog publishers to benefit from insightful comments made around their posts. Joining the Automattic team gives us the chance to quickly integrate our value with all the Automattic products like Gravatar, Akismet, and of course WordPress. We’re pumped to hop onboard and help improve life in the blogosphere on a much, much larger scale. In addition, having access to the Automattic team’s expertise in scaling is invaluable as we look to improve IntenseDebate.
Michael: All around it’s exciting times here at IntenseDebate. Joining Automattic provides us with the opportunity to put IntenseDebate in front of more eyes than ever before. You can expect more blog readers to have IntenseDebate accounts and you will be able to comment on more blogs with IntenseDebate than you can imagine! It’s the perfect time to give us a try on your blog or website.
Allen: Can you share any financial details of the transaction?
Michael: Currently we’re not disclosing this information.
Allen: Will IntenseDebate remain in Colorado or will ya’all move to the Valley?
Michael: What’s amazing about the Automattic team is that they’ve got incredible talent spread across the globe. With that in mind, pull out the push-pins and add two more to the Automattic map. Co-founder and design wizard, Isaac Keyet, will be representin’ IntenseDebate out in Sweden for the time being, while we’ll be hanging out in Boulder, Colorado. We’re extremely proud to be part of the Boulder tech community and can’t imagine being away from TechStars and the great friends we’ve made.
Allen: How do you think this positions you against competitors Disqus and JS-Kit?
Michael: Our market is moving very quickly, as are our competitors. We firmly believe IntenseDebate is a comment system that brings valuable and insightful comments out of the muck of comment spam and into the light. The Automattic deal clearly gives us the opportunity to continue this on a much larger stage and at an accelerated rate. It’s about to get even more interesting!
Allen: How long do you expect this new private beta period to last?
Michael: IntenseDebate has been put back into a private beta while we ramp up our hardware and get ready for the main stage. While it’s always tough to give an ETA on something like this, the really irritating but necessary answer is; “as long as it takes to make sure the experience is a beneficial as possible for all our users.”
Michael: While, we don’t expect it to be too long – a week, two weeks…again, our goal is to make sure the value of the user experience is paramount and superior. We will be extending a limited but growing number of invitations as we proceed. I wouldn’t be surprised if we launch our shiny new WordPress plugin when we go live!
Allen: Will IntenseDebate become integrated into the installation of self-hosted WordPress?
Michael: Certain elements of IntenseDebate will be rolled into WordPress Core, and WordPress.com. I recommend checking out Matt Mullenweg’s post IntenseDebate Goes Automattic for further details.
[My response aside, Matt comments: Going forward, the plan is to keep Intense Debate available as a platform-agnostic independent service, much like Akismet. We’ll start to integrate its features into WordPress core, WordPress.com, and Gravatar as appropriate. For example, comment threading is going to be in WordPress 2.7, but reply by email is a lot easier to implement on a hosted service like WordPress.com. We’re also going to be able to lend our expertise in scaling to the ID team to make sure their users enjoy the same hassle-free speed and bulletproof availability as users of other Automattic services.]
Allen: What’s next now that you are part of the Automattic family?
Michael: For all of us here, IntenseDebate is clearly our baby. We’ve always dreamt of an opportunity like this. Our goal now at IntenseDebate is clearly to maximise the value that we can provide across the entire spectrum of the Automattic offerings. I know that Jon and Isaac are blown away by the thought that something they created and worked on tirelessly now has the potential to reach millions of people – as are Tom, Austin and I. It’s pretty wild!
So what’s next? This is just the beginning. IntenseDebate is about to get way more intense!
Some evening acquisition news: Automattic, makers of WordPress and spam-fighter Akismet have acquired Gravatar. Never heard of Gravatar before? I am sure you have seen the avatars attached to people’s comments on various blogs. Here is what they do "officially":
A gravatar, or globally recognized avatar, is quite simply an 80×80 pixel avatar image that follows you from weblog to weblog appearing beside your name when you comment on gravatar enabled sites. Avatars help identify your posts on web forums, so why not on weblogs?
Terms of the deal were not disclosed but it does appear that some major (positive) changes are coming for Gravatar including: larger sizes for the avatars, faster servers, microformats, and more.
Om discusses the deal plus he reasoning why startups should team up to grow. I agree with him and know that leveraging others is the spirit of the current version of the Web. You help me, I help you, we both grow.