As described in yesterday’s post, the Consumerist has been dealing with security issues that forced us to take the site down twice in the past week. Since the last episode ended Saturday night, we have taken certain steps that we believe address the problems we experienced.
Because of the nature of the investigation, we cannot – at this time – share further details of the specific changes. But we do want you to know of two actions we will be taking in the next few days that may affect your experience on the site:
***First, we plan to reset all existing passwords. This means that those of you who use log-in access at the Consumerist will need to choose a new password when you log into the site. We will be sending you an email summarizing the same actions described in this post.
***Second, we plan to re-open the Consumerist to comments. As noted yesterday, we turned off commenting as part of our initial response to the latest security incident.
It could take a day or two for these actions to take place but we will post another update when they do occur. In the meantime, here are some answers to questions you may have about the situation:
Q: You said in your post yesterday that I should change my password. Does this mean that my user name or password has been compromised?
A: We don’t yet know for sure, and are investigating that carefully. The password files were encrypted, but as a matter of prudence and good practice we are recommending that you change your password at any site where you use the same password as the one you use at Consumerist. We also plan to reset all existing Consumerist passwords, which will require you to choose a new password when you try to log into the site.
Q: I tried to change my password on Consumerist but it won’t let me. What do I do?
A: You cannot change your password right now because the Consumerist site is running in a read-only mode that was part of our initial response to the security issues. Right now, you can log in but you cannot comment or change your password. But after the passwords are reset, if you try to log in you will have to choose a new password.
Q: Does this mean that if I visited Consumerist, my computer might have been infected?
A: We don’t know for sure, but if you are worried about a possible infection, you should use your anti-virus software to run a complete scan of your machine. If you don’t already have anti-virus protection on your computer, we strongly suggest you get some. And for additional suggestions on how to cleanse your machine, you can consult the StopBadware.org site.
Q: How can I know that it is safe to visit the Consumerist now?
A: At this time, the site has been scrubbed and declared clean by our security experts, and we have instituted new security measures that we believe make it safe and secure. We continue to monitor our security constantly, however, and will take the site down if new problems appear. And, as noted above, you should always make sure you have anti-virus software installed and active on your computer when you visit any site on the Internet.
Q. When will you turn back on the ability to comment on articles?
A. We are working on that now and hope to have it working within the next day or two.
-Consumerist Security Team (firstname.lastname@example.org)