It’s been quite the past month of so for Gamer Escape.
First off, I want to thank the community for their, mostly positive, support. As has been said many times before, all of us volunteering on the site – whether article writers, reviewers, wiki editors, or back-end sysop people, work on Gamer Escape as a hobby, because it’s something we all enjoy for a number of different reasons. That said, I believe that one of the biggest reasons is to be a good, reliable, and comprehensive source of information that benefits the community. Most of us have had this as a hobby for more than ten years (specifically related to FFXI and then FFXIV) and if it wasn’t for the supportive community we’d have abandoned it long ago.
Now, on to the status…
As everyone knows by now we were hacked with ransomware, demanding an exorbitant price to recover the data. We declined to pay. We were then threatened with DDoS attacks until we paid. We again declined. We will not be bullied into paying, especially when there is no guarantee that things would be restored as promised. We will take this as a lesson – a hard lesson – and bulk up on our security and back-end systems. We have reported everything to the FBI and we will report back to the community if we hear anything in response. We had very limited user information. If you had an account with us (a minority, as most people browse or edit without accounts), you signed up with a username, email and password. Usernames were already public, as were any wiki edits. Passwords were salted hashed, but we would recommend changing your password if you used the same one elsewhere.
As for where we are going from here, after years with our prior hosting service, we have changed to Amazon Web Services (AWS). This will enable us to scale up our system resources on the fly and should limit outages, slowdowns, resets, etc. We have also deployed a content distribution network (CDN) via CloudFlare, which should speed up the site right away, but offers a host of further options we can deploy if more speed is needed. Both AWS and CloudFlare provide protection against DDoS attacks or future hacking attempts. As had been reported, we were in the process of this very move since December, but because of the attack the new set-up has rolled out a bit sooner than we would have liked, and with a few bugs still to be addressed, but overall the changes should provide a better site experience.
We had also taken this opportunity to roll out the GE 3.0 design that we had been working on for a number of years. However, after pushing this design to a live setting, we saw some issues with it and so we again came up with a new layout solution. We also polished up our Gamer Escape logo a bit while we were at it! As with the back-end work, we’re still working on a number of remaining issues, but we’re working hard to get everything working. The skin should provide some consistency when navigating between the wiki and article sections and will allow us to highlight information across sections and generally keep things flowing and up-to-date better. While we continue to work out some visual kinks, the functionality of the FFXIV wiki is complete and people can edit as they see fit.
All user account information has been wiped (which was previously planned) – so if you want to edit with an account, you can now go ahead and create one. If you register with the same name as you used previously, you can fill out this form. After a few weeks, we will close out this process and attempt to merge your edit histories. If you do not want to make an account, while IP editing is currently turned off, it will be re-enabled shortly.
I also just want to add, on a more personal note, a sincere thank you to those that have helped with this recovery. They are all players and have become friends, but they are also newlyweds, parents, full-time employees, etc. with other important commitments. If you are interested in helping out (whether technically inclined or not) or just want to say hi, you can find us most times of day over on our Discord channel.
So that’s the update for today. Hopefully it will be smooth sailing from here on out, but if not we will be in touch.