The PDP digital newspaper site hacked

Staff report

ROCKINGHAM — A Rockingham Police Department officer responded early Tuesday morning to a complaint of a local business’s website being hacked.

Kevin Spradlin, owner and managing editor of The Pee Dee Post and PeeDeePost.com, told the officer that after nearly an hour talking with a tech support specialist working with the PDP’s web hosting company, it was determined that a person or persons used a computer to gain unauthorized access to data within the system.

PDP_Logo_2Specifically, the person or persons accessed the PDP’s administrative control panel and initiated changes that caused the website’s URL — http://peedeepost.com — to be redirected to a website-building service.

Readers who attempted to visit PeeDeePost.com between 6:05 p.m. Monday and as late as 9:15 p.m. Tuesday were greeted with, “we’re busy at work building an awesome website. Come back soon!”

The problem, Spradlin said, is that there were no authorized changes to the site.

It’s believed the unlawful entry occurred shortly after 6 p.m. Monday as Spradlin kayaked Hitchcock Creek and the Pee Dee River with family.

Based on the computer user’s Internet Protocol (IP) address, an investigation determined the unlawful access was obtained by a person using a computer in or near Rockingham. The computer user’s Internet Service Provider was identified. All of the information was turned over to the Rockingham Police Department on Tuesday morning.

There is no new website being built to replace the current site at http://peedeepost.com.

There is no new website being built to replace the current site at http://peedeepost.com.

“It’s hoped that a subpeona for the ISP data will allow the person or persons responsible to be held accountable for their criminal actions,” Spradlin said.

In a recent presentation at the Hamlet Senior Center, Richmond County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Mike Burns addressed Internet fraud as a difficult part of the law to enforce because so many fraudulent efforts originate from overseas. Burns said those criminals know local law enforcement agencies simply don’t have the resources to pursue those individuals.

“This appears to be different, though,” Spradlin said. “The person or persons responsible appear to be local, and I hope they’ll be getting paid a visit soon.”

Further investigation indicated it wasn’t the first time that IP address had shown up on PeeDeePost.com. With help from Jason Buckner at Frutke, a website-building company in Rockingham, the PDP learned an individual who used a variety of aliases, or screen names, and multiple email addresses posted comments at the bottom of stories and columns on the website of the daily digital newspaper at least 13 times within the last three months. Despite the efforts to mask their identity, the person or persons used the same computer.

“Everything’s been, or will be, turned over to police,” Spradlin said. “I look forward to following up on this story.”

Spradlin hoped the person or persons responsible would be held accountable to reimburse The Pee Dee Post for lost production time, lost advertising revenue during the roughly 22 hours the site was unavailable to readers as well as IT-related costs borne due to the investigation into the incident.

“It’s not a million dollars or anything like that,” Spradlin said, “but every penny that goes toward something like this is another dollar, and another minute or hour, that takes away from building on the core service the PDP aims to provide. I stretch a dollar about as far as it can be stretched.”

About The Pee Dee Post

The Pee Dee Post averages more than 40,000 unique visitors each month and nearly 3 million page views. The PDP celebrated its one-year anniversary last week with a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Richmond County Chamber of Commerce.

The PDP is a daily digital newspaper serving the people who live, work and play in and around Richmond County. The Post does not claim to cover everything, but through a one-person newsroom does its best — seven days a week — to cover as much as it can as thoroughly as possible. The PDP tries on timeliness and accuracy.

The PDP offers affordable rates for both display and classified advertising options. The value of those ads are maximized on PeeDeePost.com through an easy-to-navigate website and because there is no paywall.

The Pee Dee Post is the only locally owned and operated daily news source in Richmond County.

Filed in: Business, Education, Featured News, Latest Headlines, News, Public safety

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  • http://frutke.com/ Frutke

    Glad we could help!
    Our own website, http://frutke.com/, gets hit with several hundred hacking attempts daily (734 so far this week). Sadly, it’s just par for the course.
    Every business needs a website, but you also need one that’s secure.

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