Steps to Secure VBulletin

Since 2001 I’ve run online discussion forums. PhpBB was my first software but they had a major software exploitation back in December 2004 that brought down my forum network. The release of Phpbb 2 and 3 seemed to alleviate a lot of the problems, but in the meantime I switched many forums over to VBulletin.

I haven’t had my phpBB 2.x sites hacked but have had several hacks on VBulletin. They seem to have increased in 2011 with an almost monthly hack on one of my forums. Normally just kids having fun and reading instructions on how to hack using the latest software vulnerability in VBulletin 4.x. But in July 2011, for the first time, I had a hacker use one of my websites as a phishing site.

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Forum Updates May 2010

Are you here because one of the forums you belong to is down? I am updating some of my forum communities on other websites and they will be down for a couple days. I had originally planned on doing this in a rolling fashion for minimal down time but it’s much faster for me to just do it all at once. This means some forum communities will be down for 24-72 hours. I will try to be as fast as I can with the updates. Thank you for your understanding.

What Makes Online Communities So Special

My fingers are actually sore from doing site updates for several online communities over the last week. There are many downsides to running online communities. It’s a financial black hole, it always needs attention, there are always security updates to do and I get my share of stalkers who a lot of time on their hands and not a lot of direction for more worthwhile pursuits.

But, there are moments that make it all worthwhile. I have a small number of strong friendships that have developed from these communities; and no matter the state of my personal life I make sure the best I can that the communities trudge on.

Today someone posted this note from one of my communities that provides free supp0rt for a serious illness. We’ve been running this for about 7 years now and it’s blossomed into a very special place. These members are somedays just fine, and other days can barely sit up to get to their computer. I was very touched by her comments, here it is:

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Forum Opening

I have opened a forum for my website at http://forum.conradaskland.com

It’s against my better judgement to open a forum on a personal website, but I can’t keep up with the number of email questions I’m getting now. Hopefully the forum will allow people to exchange resources. I receive many of the same questions via email – so this is also a way to answer people in detail and en masse.

I run many other online forum communities but have never had one on my own site before. This will also be a test area for me to try new forum functionality before bringing live to other communities.

Squid Answers

Answers by Conrad

Wow, this picture even scares me. Thank you (or curse you!) to my Canadian friend for creating this monstrosity and sending to me.

Yes, that’s me in the crown. And I should explain the octopus but it’s a little confusing. I’m not sure how it started, but my alter ego on many of my websites as admin is a squid. I think it started because I run so many websites but don’t post a lot on them, so people would say I just came up for air every once in a while and then would submerge mysteriously. Over the years it’s progressed to me actually posting squid videos in my profiles. I think it’s fun for members to think a squid runs their website, I don’t know.

I guess that’s how we get some of our strange traditions and cultural memes over generations. Something starts out making sense and then it gets all convoluted.

Network Updates Started

The long awaited updates of my networks is started now. Several new servers have been provisioned and all softwares are being updated to most current versions. This will be a slow tedious task that will take several months and will happen in this order:

  1. Forum communities updated and relaunched.
  2. Front page news articles reinstalled.
  3. Integration with social networking software.
  4. Integration of e-commerce.

What does this mean? Just that members can do more stuff and have more fun. All communities will still be free, but the addition of ecommerce options should help keep the increased financial overhead more sustainable.

Drupal vs. Phpbb vs. Joomla vs. VBulletin

Argghh! Are you like me and have spent countless hours reading about all these different software platforms? In my case, I have many different forums that I would like to upgrade – currently running PhpBB 2.2x on most of them. I don’t mind sinking some money into them – but I want a really great user experience.

I’ve been running forums since 1999 so have been around the block a bit. I’ve been burned in the past by using bridges and combinations of software that were deprecated – so I’m a little leary of using multiple software platforms, but still open to the idea if it really rocks and is stable.

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Poe’s Law

Similar to Murphy’s Law, Poe’s Law concerns internet debates, particularly regarding religion or politics.

“Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that SOMEONE won’t mistake for the real thing.”

In other words, No matter how bizzare, outrageous, or just plain idiotic a parody of a Fundamentalist may seem, there will always be someone who cannot tell that it is a parody, having seen similar REAL ideas from real religious/political Fundamentalists.

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Website Outages

A handful of sites in my networks are currently down. They will resume operation by middle of September. Thank you for your patience. Most of the free public service sites are currently running and accessible.

New Forum Server

One of my forum servers is currently switching hosts. ETA for forums affected to be back up is by May 4, 2008. The server is a major performance upgrade from our previous host.

Once that server is back online I’ll begin migration to new forum software with social networking and blog features. After the first test site has worked out it’s bugs I’ll begin migration on all major forums.

Switching from VBulletin to PHPBB?

Ever heard of someone switching from VBulletin back to PhpBB? I was surfing and came across an article about someone who switched to VBulletin with the VBSEO mod and was used as a poster boy for how much money he was making on it. Then I visit his blog and see a subsequent post about him wanting to switch back to PHPBB. He likes the new template engine on PHPBB 3.0 Olympus.

Here’s the blog post:

http://skeymedia.com/tag/phpbb/

Here’s the article from VBSEO about how great VBulletin and VBSEO are:

VBSEO Rags to Riches Story

Leave you a little confused? I have a lot of PHPBB forums and was looking at options for a major upgrade at the end of the year. I’m still running PHPBB 2.22 (2.0.22). What are your thoughts?

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