Hacked: The End of Our NZ Road Trip
Well, hello there! It’s been a hot minute since you last heard from us. The past 5 weeks have been crazy to say the least. So many things have transpired since we last updated the blog – some bad, some good, and some REALLY good! In fact, so many things have happened over the course of the past month I’m not even sure where to begin. Maybe I should start from the beginning. The day we woke up in Queenstown, New Zealand to find that our websites had been hacked…
It started with a sketchy email accusing us of phishing for information through one of our websites. We thought the email was spam but with a little digging, we discovered the website had actually been hacked. Shit. Then the emails kept coming. Another website…hacked. And another. and another. Before we could even process what was happening, all of our websites…hacked. We went into panic mode. Although we paid for an extra 20GB of internet data, it was so painfully slow (a pattern in NZ) that it was taking minutes just to login to a website to investigate. We spent the rest of the day going into the backend of each website and removing the corrupt files, which took 5x longer than it should have between the slow internet, contacting the internet company multiple times, and booking it to the Starbucks only to find the speed wasn’t any better.
Oh and in the midst of this, I had booked a flight to paraglide over Queenstown that morning – something I had been longing to do and didn’t want to leave NZ without experiencing. It was nonrefundable, so in the midst of our panic we headed off to my flight, intensifying my anxiety even more. We had to take a gondola up the mountain, followed by another chairlift, and then another steep and intense hike to the peak of the mountain. My knees feeling like jello and the butterflies in my stomach turning into nausea, the panic was setting in. But I had come that far, I wasn’t turning back.
Well, I didn’t plan to anyways. I watched 3 people of our group of 6 go. They ran off the cliff and sailed out over Queenstown. I was up next. We were geared up and ready to go. We even took a pre-flight selfie on the Go-Pro. I was shaking but I was ready to fly.
And then my instructor received a call on his radio from someone on the ground. Hold all flights.
Winds had shifted and it wasn’t safe to fly. We were told to wait a few minutes. But a few minutes turned into 15 minutes. And then they called off all flights for the rest of the day. I’m not going to lie, part of me was relieved I didn’t have to run off that mountain. But the other part was so angry I had come so far and I didn’t know if I could bring myself to do it again. On top of that, we had taken 2 hours away from working on the websites for this flight which turned out to be a complete waste of time. Our day had gone from bad to worse.
Back on the ground, we worked late into the evening and finally finished removing the corrupt files hoping that we solved the issue, but mentally preparing for the worst. With Black Friday and Christmas approaching, we knew we couldn’t waste any time. This is one of our most profitable seasons of the year. We began researching flight options in the event our efforts failed and we had to book it home. We went to bed that night hoping for the best.
I woke the next morning to Charlie bursting into the room at 6 am and yelling for me to “get us the hell out of here”. The corrupt files were back. And all of our home pages were replaced with images of skulls and the American flag burning and music playing with the lyrics “Free Palestine”. It honestly sent chills down my spine. They had taken over everything.
After going back and forth with the hosting and much research, our only option was to completely nuke and rebuild all of our websites from scratch. And with the limited time and the terribly slow internet we were encountering in Queenstown, we knew we could never accomplish it there. Not only that, but we would have spent our remaining two weeks in NZ just working and that didn’t really make sense. We made the executive decision to change our flights and leave NZ the next day.
Needless to say, our family was happy that we arrived earlier than expected and we managed to get a ton of work done while spending 10 hours in the Auckland airport (the only place in NZ with blazing fast internet!). We strongly recommend the Emperor Lounge if you ever have to spend an extended amount of time there (day passes available).
We spent our first week home working all day every day to rebuild every website from scratch. However, in the end we managed to get caught up on all of our work in time to enjoy our first real Thanksgiving in 3 years with our family.
We are sad that we didn’t get to experience everything in NZ that we planned to, but sometimes thats just the way things go. We are still grateful for the time that we did spend there. It is such a beautiful country and I’m sure we will be back again one day!
Since we’ve been home we’ve had some other big events take place – such as a big purchase, having our visas denied causing us to change travel plans, and another major life event – but I’ll leave those for the next post!