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OK, so our hosting company decided to clone our site and database onto a new serve. Without our knowledge or permission they then edited our code to point to the new database. The old server was left running, still pointing at the original database. The DNS was changed to reflect the new IP address of the server.

Obviously during the propagation customers were hitting both the new and old servers, resulting in orders coming in to both databases, sometimes being split between the two. We're now attempting to reconcile the two databases.

The question I have is is it still hacking if it was done by your own hosting company?! I'm fairly sure they shouldn't have edited our code! If they had left it as it was the site would have stayed pointed at the original database and we wouldn't be in this mess!

I'm thinking that legal advice is need but just wanted to know if anyone had ever come across this situation before?!

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Dec 3 '10 at 15:23

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It's definitely "hacking" from the standpoint that the propagation was a total hack. –  Uku Loskit Dec 3 '10 at 15:06
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It sounds crummy to me, but check the Terms of Service that you agreed upon before you take action. They might have covered this with their agreement. Still, it's not too cool. –  Chris Adragna Dec 3 '10 at 16:31
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I would consult a lawyer regarding legal questions. Though I don't think this qualifies as "hacking" since they own the servers. It might qualify as a breach of contract, and the host may be liable for damages, but calling it a "hack" seems like a lame attempt to sensationalize what appears to be nothing more than a case of incompetence. If a web host wanted to sabotage your business, they could do so much more effectively and with much less effort. –  Lèse majesté Dec 3 '10 at 18:03
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Just curious, which is your hosting company? –  Vergil Penkov Dec 4 '10 at 20:43
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FFS, please tell us which company it was! –  Andrew Heath Dec 6 '10 at 3:02

7 Answers 7

I wouldn't call this 'hacked'. It sounds like their intentions were good, but they were very naive and unprofessional. Switch to another provider if you're not happy, or teach them they can't do this without informing you.

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You state that your application's configuration was changed - are you certain that is the case?

It sounds as though your database was hosted on the same server as your application itself - in which case the configuration may very well have been to access the locally-hosted database.

Definitely not an ideal situation and it sounds as though you have a right to be upset, however, accusing your hosting provider of hacking your site or changing your settings without authorization is the wrong way to approach the issue if no settings were actually changed.

You're probably well on your way to finding a new hosting provider - hopefully one which notifies its customers before performing maintenance of this nature - but (having worked for a hosting company or two) I would recommend that you document the nature of your complaint as thoroughly as possible and avoid making accusations which are not supported by the evidence if you are going to request compensation for the issue.

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While I don't know where this question belongs in the StackExchange network but I will say this: They should have informed you of their decision to move the location of your servers and how they intended to do it. You should have been involved to make sure that the move was seemless. You original site should have been shut down temporarily.

From the sound of it their behavior and actions caused you material harm. I would not use them in the future and I would check your contracts with them to ensure that they haven't violated some agreement.

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I don't know if it's hacking from a legal standpoint, but that's horrible customer service. You should definitely switch providers. You may also want to review the Terms Of Service with your existing company to see whether they specify that they are allowed to do something like that.

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I would be absolutely livid if my host did this to me. I'd probably respond with something like, "What the F were you thinking? Never touch my code, you have no idea what the implications are. I'd like to be reimbursed for this month's fees and I will be taking my business elsewhere."

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First, it's not hacking.

Second, why on earth did they set up a second database server? Even if they were changing the IP address of your webserver, this doesn't make any sense.

Have you called to ask what in the world they were doing?

My guess is these guys are a very small shop that is reselling hosting. More than likely they decided to switch their own providers and tried to make this as painless (and quiet) as possible. Step 1 for me would be to find a new top tier host that wasn't reselling someone elses servers. Step 2 would be to get my site(s) moved to the new host. And Step 3 would be to sue the old host for stupidity. However, again, there was no hacking done.

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Had something similar happen when a drive started to fail and my hosting provider decided at 4AM to do something about it before the drive froze up. Yours should have completed the move, sounds like they somehow got stuck in the middle which means you haven't been hacked, merely the victim (if you so wish to be described) of an incomplete/incompetent maintenance operation. If they'd done their job completely, you only would have noticed downtime or some anomaly in your website's data that you couldn't explain.

Your TOS will have a few lines there in the fine print about equipment failure, unexpected system maintenance and prerogatives of the site administration to make changes because you aren't taking personal responsibility for doing it yourself.

Yes, they should have consulted with you, or in my case, sent an email telling of the imminent failure and what they were doing to keep the site functional, sorry it is what it is. Read your TOS, it won't be described as hacking.

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