Checking your WordPress blog for hacked files

WordPress is a very empowering software, but also can be easily exploited because of how it was created. WordPress was designed to make it easy for users to customize their blog without having to login to the server, but this opens up possibilities for holes. I’ve had a couple of my WordPress sites hacked and I wanted to share a few tips to help identify files that have been hacked.

Scan your site for free – provides a free security scanner that you can point at your WordPress site and have it check for spam links or possible security issues. It won’t catch all of the issues, but it is a great place to start.

What if sucuri finds spam links? How will you get rid of them? I’ve created a very simple bash script that allows you to check multiple WordPress sites for offending text. The script can also be run from the command line of the server that your wordpress is installed on.

  1. Create a file on your wordpress server and call it and then paste the text below in it, replacing with the directory of your wordpress install
#! /bin/bash
grep -r "netstat"

In this case netstat is a networking command line call that I found in some of my hacked files that allow the hackers to gain server access. You can replace the “netstat” with any text and it will scan through all of the files and list out files with it.  If sucuri finds spam links, put some of the text in quotes and run the command. Note that you can run

grep -r "netstat"

from just the command line as well and get the same results. When you are running the command or bash script, it may show that it is unable to access certain directories in your wordpress installation. These are most likely hacked directories. Check the permissions of the directories and change them so that you can get access to them. In my case, the directory’s name was log. I changed the permissions of the directory using:

chmod -R 700

where would be replaced with the directory that wasn’t able to be read.

Once you change the permissions then you can delete the directory. Check to make sure there isn’t any critical files in the directory first.

I’m in no way a security expert but the steps above helped me identify and clean up hacked code.

LinkedIn Privacy settings

I haven’t blogged in a bit but thought I’d do a quick post on changing how your profile will appear to other users on LinkedIn.
When you view a user’s LinkedIn profile, it captures this and displays it in a report to the user. If you’d like more anonymity when navigating through the site, do the following:

  1. Login to LinkedIn
  2. Click on your name in the top right corner and select “Settings”
  3. Click on the Profile tab towards the bottom of the screen
  4. Click on “Select what others see when you’ve viewed their profile”
  5. From here you can have your name and company displayed to other users, just the Company, or be completely Anonymous

This was an unknown setting to me until I started digging into LinkedIn more and wanted to share it with everyone.


This has been a pretty crazy year on many levels but as I get towards the end of the year I reflect on a lot of things I’m thankful for. Here is my top 6 list:

  1. Top of the list is my wife, she is amazingly supportive and everyday I thank God she is in my life.
  2. Family has been very supportive this year. Both my family and my wife’s.
  3. Lucy my Golden Retriever, she’s sooo awesome!
  4. MindTouch, a great company to work for along with a great product to be associated with
  5. Essentials – I’m thankful for having the basic necessities that we take for granted like shelter and food
  6. Anyone reading this – Thank you for taking time to read my blog

I know I haven’t been writing often, but that is kinda how I roll. If you want more frequent updates definitely follow me on twitter: @coreygans

I hope you have a wonderful holiday!

Quality of Service and Customer support

One of the biggest components to making life easy for a Customer Support agent is having a good product. But let’s be honest, every product has its flaw and because of this the customer support/service agent’s role is critical for filling in the gap when the product fails.

I had a recent interaction with a customer support agent that left a very bad taste in my mouth as the agent didn’t understand the gravity of the situation.


Every year I run the annual RECSS awards which recognize outstanding customer support and service across multiple industries. This year was the 3rd year for this award. The process leading up to the winners only lasts about 2-3 months and is an intense time of marketing through word of mouth along with usual mediums like email and social media. This year I sent out my email through Vertical Response ,as I have done in previous years, letting them know that voting is open. I luckily received an email from one of my subscribers letting me know that the links in my email were leading off to a phishing site. Now as a disclosure my email list isn’t that large, but every person on the list is important and they are able to help spread awareness of the awards program after receiving the email. I checked the links I had setup in my email and confirmed there wasn’t a typo and then went to the email and clicked on the links and sure enough they were leading off to a random spam site.

I contacted Vertical Response about this and first asked how this happened. They replied and said it was an internal error and that their team was working on it and they apologized for the inconvenience. This was very frustrating as this was more than just an inconvenience, which I would consider a delay in sending an email campaign, but instead a major mess up. I replied and asked for a refund of the amount of money I’ve spent with them which didn’t exceed $50. I was going to take my refund, move onto a different vendor and chalk it up to a horrible issue. I didn’t get a response for a while and so I sent another email asking for them to confirm the refund of my payment and they replied that they provided credits in my account and gave me some more credits for use on my next campaign.

Now I had no intention of using the service again after that issue. All I wanted was my money back so I could move on. I asked them again if I could just get my money back and they said they couldn’t refund credits that have already been used. I can understand this from a business standpoint but at the same time this was a major error on their part and all I got was more credits.

In the end what I really wanted was someone to reach out to me on a personal level to understand why I was so frustrated so at least I was heard. If someone would have at least done that, then I would have still moved on, but I wouldn’t have this left over feeling of being taken advantage of.

Oh well, I’m using MailChimp now and loving their interface along with the ease of extending it. It is a little bit more than VerticalResponse, but well worth it in my opinion.

E-commerce Solution evaluation

I’ve been doing some research around hosted E-commerce solutions and wanted to post my results in hopes that people can offer insight into the best solution or recommend one that I haven’t covered yet. Below is the information I’ve pulled together thus far. I’d appreciate any feedback on the options and any recommendations for options I haven’t considered.

  Cafe Commerce Shopify Volusion Magento Go Big Commerce
Paypal Processing Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Credit Card Processing Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Transaction fees for processing CCs (if company processes on your behalf) 2.16% Based on Auth Provider 2.17% Based on Auth Provider Based on Auth Provider
Mobile e-commerce support No No – iphone mgmt Yes Not Available Yes
Coupons Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
API No Mention Yes Yes (with $99/mo plan) Yes Yes
Custom CSS Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Custom HTML  No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Shared SSL included Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Custom Domain support Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Hosting included Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Support 24×7 Yes No Yes Yes No
Quickbooks integration No Yes ( starts at $10/mo) Yes (3rd party integration. Prob addtl cost) Yes (addtl cost starts at $299/year ) Yes
Founded 2011 2006 1999 2001 2003
Good Starting Level $30 $59 $39 $25 $39.95
Transaction fee (not associated with CC) No Yes (1% at this level) No No No
Max number of products to add Unlimited 2,500 500 500 500
Bandwidth Unlimited Not available on site 3GB 8GB 3GB
Storage Unlimited 500MB Not available on site 800MB 300MB

2011 R.E.C.S.S. open for nominations

The 2011 Recognition for Excellence in Customer Support and Service Awards are open for nominations. You can nominate your favorite agent/company by tweeting or filling out the form here:

The top agent will win an Xbox 360 Kinect bundle and the companies will win an award. Please help spread the word and nominate for different companies/agents as many times as you want.

Amazing road trip

I just got back from an amazing roadtrip. Here are the details of what we did:

Thursday Aug 4th
Left San Diego and headed towards Vegas. Did I mention it was Pam, myself and Lucy (our Golden Retriever). We arrived in Las Vegas around 1am and stayed at a La Quinta off the strip. The La Quinta was really nice, cheap and didn’t charge extra for dogs. We had to get up early to hit the road, so we didn’t do anything in Vegas at this time.

Friday Aug 5th
We left in the morning around 10am and headed towards Fruita, CO, which is right across the CO border. We made it there about 6/7pm and once again stayed at a La Quinta, good times. We grabbed some mongolian BBQ while there and took it easy. We had to leave early the next day to make it to Denver, CO to see Pam’s family so we didn’t do any sight seeing in Fruita.

Saturday Aug 6th
We made it to Denver around 2pm and checked into our Hotel VQ which is right next to the Bronco’s Stadium. Lucy met her cousin (Ani) for the first time. Ani is Pam’s brother’s black lab. They clicked right away and had a blast. We then went downtown as we had tickets to the Rockies vs Washington Nationals game. Before the game, Pam and I went to a bar called 1up. It is an arcade bar where they had a lot of vintage games and we happen to luck out and be there when Steve Wiebe was playing donkey kong. For those not familiar with him, he was the world record holder of Donkey Kong high score and was features in the Documentary King of Kong, which is an excelent movie. Here is a pic of Steve Wiebe and me. After hanging out at the 1up bar we went to the Rockies game. We had great seats on the 1st base line thanks to Pam’s brother, and it was a great game. I indulged myself by getting a pretzel with the cheese dip 🙂 After the game we went back to the hotel and chilled for the rest of the night.

Sunday Aug 7th
We woke up Sunday and packed up the car to head over to the Rocky Mountain National Park. We had a cabin right outside of the park entrance. The cabin was nice and allowed dogs. I was able to chill by a stream near our cabin and get caught up with work while enjoying the amazing views. Here is a pic from where I sat: After playing catchup Pam, myself and her Mom went out to dinner and a local road side diner. I had an excellent 14oz Prime rib with red potatoes and sweet potato fries. Needless to say I had a traditional meat and potatoes dinner. After dinner we went over to Pam’s brother’s camp site where we hung out and made Smores. It was a beautifully clear night and I was able to see every star. We then headed back to the cabin and called it a night.

Monday Aug 8th
Monday I had some time to myself to take in the scenic beauty around the cabin and clear my head. It was a nice unplugging moment. After that I went on a drive with Pam, her mom and Dad up into the Rocky Mountain National Park. We saw over 50 Elk, a Marmot, and amazing vistas as far as the eye could see. After the drive we reconnected with Pam’s bro and sis at the campsite and then got some fixins to grill out at the cabin, including Flank steak (I was craving it the whole time). We then hung out for a bit and called it a night.

Tuesday Aug 9th
We got up Tuesday and started to pack up to hit the road on our way back to San Diego. We got a great family pic in with the dogs and then took Pam’s sister to the airport so she could fly back. Pam and I made our way to Grand Junction, CO where we stayed the night at another La Quinta, did I mention that I like La Quinta 🙂 We ventured out for some food that night and I got a Little Caesar pizza(comfort food) and Pam got some Frozen Yogurt. It was a little bit of a veg night which is always good.

Wednesday Aug 10th
We woke up Wednesday and headed over to a Meadery, which is a winery where they supplement grapes for Honey. The Meadery name was Meadery of the Rockies and they had free tastings. We tried some of the wine and it was really tasty. We grabbed a couple of bottles to bring back. After that we went to the Colorado National Monument. We had grabbed an annual National Parks pass at Rocky Mountain National park and wanted to take advantage of the great parks along the way. The views were amazing as you can see from this pic: We spent about an hour there and then hit the road with the destination set for Flagstaff, AZ. We got into Flagstaff at almost exactly midnight. It was a long day of driving and we spent the night at a Travelodge Motel. It was really cheap and that was about all that it had going for it.

Thursday Aug 11th
Thursday we woke up early and hit the road. The first destination: The Grand Canyon. We made it to the Grand Canyon in a little under 2 hours and after seeing it, the name is very fitting. It truly is Grand! After the breathtaking views, we hopped back in the car. Next destination: The Hoover Dam. We made it to the Dam and took a couple of pics but didn’t linger too much. Did I mention that all of the spots we went to were pretty packed with tourists? We continued onto Vegas and spent the night at the La Quinta that we were at on the first night of the trip. We got settled in and then went out to Fremont Street and saw an amazing Doors tribute montage on the big screen over Fremont street. Lucy was a little freaked out so we didn’t stay long. I did have enough time to run into a casino and lose $1 on a slot machine, I wasn’t shooting for big wins 🙂 We then went back to the hotel and chilled for the rest of the night.

Friday Aug 12th
We woke up early Friday and hit the road on the way back to San Diego. We didn’t doddle on the way back and made it into town around 3pm. I then went and got a haircut, it was getting a little too crazy, and we settled back into our home. Lucy was sooo tired from the trip she came into the house and laid down on her bed. I’m happy to say a good nights sleep got her rejuvenated.

All in all this was an amazing road trip and in fact the longest road trip I’ve ever been on. If anything this got me more excited to continue travelling with Pam and Lucy. Who knows where we’ll go next?

Status checkin

Here is a summary of things going on:

  • It is less than 14 days to the start of the 3rd Annual SupportAwards. I’m excited about this year as it should prove to be a strong turn out for nominations and votes. We have some great sponsors this year too.
  • MindTouch just announced the release of contextual help. Ultimately it allows for help content from a hosted MindTouch TCS site to be surfaced within an application and automatically provide contextually relevant information based upon the page the help is being initiated from. Keep an eye out for demos and more information about this offering from MindTouch
  • I’ve been working on my car and getting it cleaned up and optimized. It is a blast driving the convertible and enjoy having a bit of a project to work on.

Other than that, I’ve been chugging along and keeping up with things.

Buying a car

I just recently bought a car and it was a fun experience as always. I ended up choosing a 2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder convertible. I’ve never had a convertible and I have to say it is a blast to drive. Here is a pic of it:

While buying the car I had to put it through some tests to make sure it was worthy to be a vehicle of mine. The first test I did was to test the struts. Struts provide the smooth ride and if they aren’t in good shape the car will be bouncing a lot. A way to test the struts is to push down on the bumper and if it recovers right away, then that means the struts are good. If it bounces and then bounces again, that means the struts are most likely shot.

The next thing I checked were the tires to make sure they had enough wear on them along with making sure they weren’t wearing abnormally. This can point to an alignment issue, which is easily fixed. Next I look at the rotors to make sure they are in good shape and aren’t gouged. I check the strut boot to make sure it isn’t cracked and leaking at all.

I check under the hood and make sure there isn’t leaking any fluids, although it being an old car there is still the chance for the small leak. Then I run through all of the electrical to make sure it works. Check paint for dings or cover ups. This can be seen pretty easily. Take it for a test drive and make sure all of the components work along with ensuring that there aren’t any noises. I take a look under the car to check for rust (old habits from car buying in MN) and make sure that the exhaust pipes don’t have leaks/cracks. When you start the car, see if the exhaust is a blue’ish color, this means that the engine is burning oil and could be costly to fix, but at the same time is common in older/high mileage cars.

Check the age of the battery to see if it is the original. Check the brakes while driving to make sure they grab and that they aren’t squishy. Check the car on to ensure there aren’t any recalls or gotchas about the car that could cause more expenses down the road. Also you’ll be able to get an estimate as to the value of the car.

There are additional items I check, but this is a quick and dirty list for anyone buying a car to add to their check list. I hope this is helpful to anyone who reads this.

Midwest tour recap

I was fortunate enough to work remotely the past couple of weeks so that I could do a mini Midwest tour. I started off in Saint Paul, MN and connected with friends. It was great to play catch up. From there we went down to Winona for Pam’s cousin’s wedding. The wedding was beautiful and everyone had a great time.

Next stop was my sister’s place in Illinois. I hung out there for a couple of days and got to celebrate my nephew’s birthday through a fun visit to a mini golf and go cart center. I also helped my sister setup their new trampoline and got to bounce around on that a bit. It was good just having downtime with my sister and her family as usually we only get to connect around holidays or special events and there isn’t enough socializing time or even time just to hang out.

I went to my brother’s place in Indiana next. I lucked out to see my niece’s end of the year dance recital. It is crazy to see how fast they have grown and how talented they are. I also got to play video games with my nephews and brother. We made it to a couple of movies including Kung Fu Panda and Xmen, both were good. I also got to have downtime with my bro and weight lifted along with grabbing some breakfast.

I think moving forward I’m going to try and do one of these trips every year, except the next time I need to have Pam with me. I was away from her for about a week and a half and it was way too long. Also I missed Lucy and she missed me too. Pam said she waited outside of our bedroom door in the morning and whined as she was waiting for me to come out. Poor pups.

All in all it was a great break from routine and amazing bonding time. Thanks to all of the family that I saw and stayed with. Definitely a highlight of 2011.