Back from a Hack


Photo by: Jasmine Plascencia

The Stinger website was hacked by bots thus causing a reset on all accounts.

The Stinger, Cam High’s school newspaper, was hacked on May 30, denying accessibility to the advisers, editors, reporters, or even readers trying to access the site. This is the first time the Stinger had been hacked in the four years that it has been a website.

Jason Wallestead of School Newspapers Online (SNO) explained, “Hacks like this don’t come from someone deliberately targeting your site. Rather, they come from hacking ‘bots’ that scan sites to find vulnerabilities, either in outdated WordPress installations or plugins.”

Essentially, this means that the “bots” look for vulnerabilities within account passwords and within the whole system. These weaknesses are then exploited and the “bots” come into the site and lock out all true users of the site. After blocking the users out of the site, the “bots” search for money or resources that can be taken and used by the hackers.  According to Stop Badware, sites like the stinger get hacked because of poor choice of passwords, insecure FTP connections, web application and server level vulnerabilities. Any of these could be the cause of why our site was hacked and exploited. 

Once the adviser, Mr. Mark Storer, realized that the site was hacked, he contacted SNO, who manages the website for the Stinger. SNO’s security experts then worked to take back the site from the hackers. One of SNO’s security experts, Paul Hamberg, said, “If any user accounts had been compromised, the users were logged out and passwords changed so the compromised accounts would be useless to a hacker.”

In order to take back the site, SNO employees hacked back into the site and changing all of the passwords again to lock out the hackers from the site. Wallestead also mentioned that all of the site’s software was updated and this new clean up process would “resolve any security vulnerability.”

The Stinger also assigned new passwords to all users.  “We are reassigning passwords to every student and trying to make those passwords stronger. We’ve updated the security of the site through SNO, so that the filters are stronger and won’t allow things in that don’t belong there,” said Storer.

These steps of making stronger and more reliable passwords for every member of the Stinger Staff and implementing a superior filtration system are both time consuming and complex. Both SNO and the Stinger Staff are doing all they can to solve the current issue and prevent this from occurring in the future.

Annie Mascolo, the Stinger’s Managing Editor, said, “I was nervous because all the editors and writers work hard on the site to make it reputable and to make it the award winning site that it is. I was worried that someone would do something to mess it all up.” Both Storer and Mascolo said the threat of compromising the Stinger’s reputation was “unnerving.”

According to the New York Times, there were 621 confirmed website breaches last year. This means that this sort of hacking is relatively normal. The issue has been dealt with and the necessary steps and precautions have taken place to potentially ensure that this type of hacking does not occur again.

The site is now back up and back to its previous state before the hack.