The story of a mouse and website security in everyday wording
A story about how my car was invaded and attacked by a mouse. Usually, you don´t associate a mouse, the animal, with a car. They don´t mix and have nothing in common. At autumn this may change. The mouse may see your car environment as a perfect shelter for the incoming cold winds and wet weather. No less do you associate a mouse, the animal, with website security? Perhaps this will change at the end of this story.
Last week I was doing the daily routine of picking up the youngest kids from school. Often I do a little shopping before picking them up. Easier than bringing them along (parents would understand). When entering the car, I did find it had an unusual smell. Not of the sweeter kind. Figured the kids must have forgotten some food days back. Did the shopping and this day like any day, I opened the trunk to put in the grocery bag. To my surprise, there were tiny bits of plastic, small bits of clothing, and again this awful smell, just more intensive.
A bug! I thought. Lots of thoughts ran through my mind. Tiny bug, bigger bug? Mouse or rat? Living in the countryside so both options were legit. Decided to bring in the grocery inside the car.
Having picked up the kids, and explained them not to open the trunk. We had an intruder (worked well for them not to look).
At this point of the story you, if you are still with me, you might think, what the h is he on about? How does this relate to keeping my site secure?
Let me explain. A month back I did a change in habits. The cars have always been parked in the middle of our driveway. We had a new bench, and my dear wife figured it should be seated in front of the house. That meant we had to change the habit of where to park. Just a slight change. Driving a little to the left, up towards the hedge, and then the new white wooden bench could be seen when driving down our driveway. No problem in that. Initially.
It turned out that this is where the mice live. And I didn't take any special measure to ensure my good old car was entry proof. Why would I, never had intruders before.
Only when now having an intruder I realised it was a bad idea to have made a direct invite for invasion. Much similar to not having updated my website, not thinking about a known vulnerability would stop by in the countryside. Things are, they look everywhere. No safe places for this kind of intruders. Mice or hackers that is.
Ok, so I felt a need to do something about it. The smell was bad. The interior had breakage. Two seats bit badly, besides the damage to free goods in the trunk.
Plan A to the rescue! I remembered how I managed to catch a mouse in the house a few years back. Found that old trap, where you catch them alive. Was a bit dusty and worn out and the tipping wood didn´t tip as a new one but gave it a go. Next morning checking the trap in the trunk. No mouse. But there was a dried out leaf inside the trap. No wind inside the trunk, so there had been activity, hmm.
Plan B: Went to buy a new kind of trap. Read about this gulito trap, meaning I had to look it up and educate myself; that would snap a mouse or a rat the moment they touched the bait. Bought the bigger one, just in case it should be a rat. Loaded it with a bait of chocolate/raisin and activated the trap. Next morning I had a little hesitation before opening the trunk to look. And did this small jump partly joy and a greater part of yikes, when seeing some big fat lower part of a mouse? was caught in the trap. Admitted, I did slam the lid of the trunk right away. Ok, I do not fight dead scary animals that often so it was partly a reflex....he said.
The now proud dad could confront the family and tell the lively story about how he single handed confronted the enemy and terminated the intruder. Intense and in detail. That hero feel of manly pride felt good.
For some reason, could be intuition or a second sense, I felt the need to reactivate the trap and keep it in the trunk. Just to be on the safe side. Dad fixed it already, but still that tiny feel of doubt made me do it. Drove around with a loaded trap that day, and we kept off the trunk.
All good, and in the next morning, just for the fun of it, I opened the trunk to verify my newly gained level of awesome. Oh... Another intruder was captured... But, now the doubt really touched my mind. Two mice caught. Would I get one every night from now on? Had to read up again.
It turned out these animals could come in pairs to keep warm and social. For what it is worth I had to keep activating the trap. You never know what goes on in the dark when you look away. The problem is now solved, and the smelly old car has returned to usual duty.
Wait, there is more. Although the intruder was identified and terminated, there was a valuable lesson learned about not only having to stop first visible finding. The second intruder did just as much harm, eating more seat and plastic. This was also identified and terminated.
Now on the safe side. No, not really. There is still more.
A highly invisible and highly dangerous error did occur after these intruders being terminated. What I could see was the pieces of plastic, the holes in the seats and obviously could be bothered about the smell of them marking the place to be able to find back to their lovely new nest.
The dangerous part was the invisible breakage they made. All three stop lights were out of order I realised by luck. This could be life threatening to my family and me when out in traffic. Only noticed this by doing an extra visual scan and investigation of the inner and outer car, checking lights up towards a low window and by video recording.
So you may repeat your question: What does this have to do with keeping my website secure? The answer is Everything!
1. If you didn´t keep your site updated, you would leave a hole for intruders to enter easily.
2. When you then, a little too late, patch your site and feel secure, you didn´t notice the second intruder. (trap first go)
3. Only later you saw unexpected behaviour on your website. New files added that you didn´t add, or worse. (trap second go)
4. So if you didn´t run a security scan (window and video recording), after doing an extra activation of the trap, with a service as securi or myjoomla, then you wouldn´t have caught the critical issue on your site that could terminate your site.
Please check your car for openings to intruders to avoid accidents. Or in other words, please update your site promptly and always use latest stable and most secure version.
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