My TAE Has Been Hacked

Many TAE owners are not techies like me.  I’m a little rusty since I retired 13 years ago, but I still have some skills.  I spent 24 years in data center operations and distributed systems operations,  network engineering, systems engineering, and IT management, but the difference is that I had surrounded myself with smart people who told me, “we got it boss, don’t touch the keyboard”.

The trouble is that all those smart people retired the same day I did, and scattered to the wind, so I had to learn all over about building and supporting systems.

I do like to pass on some nuggets, tips, and techniques.

My sites were recently, ACTIVELY hacked, while I was IN THE SITE trying to cut him off.  He was good.


I want to pass on some tips

Use STRONG PASSWORDS on your User account, Admin account, CPanel account, and Database.  Here are 3 really good password generators:





TAE Admin Control Panel

  • Just about everything is fed with a database, but you should be in your sites not only as admin, but as a user.  Any hint of a problem, get help.  

  • Look at your Edit Pages.  Most admins don’t have Preview on those pages, so every day, check your INDEX pages, Login Pages, and OTOs.  Copy and paste the HTML code into an HTML editor (in html or source mode).  DO NOT use a WordPress blog – WP does some screwy things with your code.  Use this free HTML editor.  


Colors.  Even the best cannot match colors.  Don’t guess, generate the hex codes for the colors you want with these tools.




Coding Changes

  • If you are making any code changes, ALWAYS make a copy of the php module before you make any changes.  I usually just copy to the same filename and tack on today’s date.  For instance:  advertise.php copy is named advertise.php20170129 (use this format so it collates properly in file manager)

  • Use a Code Checker.  Copy and paste your php or html code into this PHP Code Analyzer BEFORE saving it.


  • Enlist the Pros.   Roger Hoover.  Reasonably priced, extremely responsive, super tech. 


Get to Know Your Database

  • I have to admit that I am not a supertech with SQL but I can get things done.  I will tell you some basics, but this will not qualify to put on your resume’ as a DBA.  This is a whole article and video itself. You will be using Cpanel with the graphical database management tool phpMyAdmin.

Key Tables – a hacker can do the most damage without much effort by getting into these pages

  • settings – CHECK THIS FIRST THING!  Your admin ID and password, pricing, Paypal and Payza ID’s are in this table.  

  • members – all the information about your members, their id’s, passwords, Paypal, contacts, points, EVERYTHING ABOUT EACH MEMBER.

  • pages – this is where all of your OTO, offers, index pages, advertising area, login pages, member area pages , headers, footers, TOS, Privacy page, earnings disclosure, etc. are stored

  • navigation – controls what your members see on the NAV menu, how it looks, and what happens when they click a button.

  • transactions (there may be more than one).  Commissions may be based on this data

  • paypal_ipn, alertpay_ipn – anything with *_ipn these are transactions to each payment processor – could affect commissions.

  • promo_codes and promo_used – not only the promo codes you offer, but who has redeemed them – could mean lots of lost revenue if they are able to redeem codes more than once.

Doing Backups – use CPANEL Backup (not the wizard) – same cpanel folder as File Manager

  • NEVER do a whole site backup. Always do separate backups for Home directory, each database, and any forwarders

  • You’re not done!  Those key tables above, I want you to access each using phpMyAdmin and Export to SQL.  Move these files to secure storage – accessible. OneDrive, GoogleDrive, or DropBox will allow you to share links to those SQL files with Roger or other tech.