If the Internet had existed during the time when Dante wrote the “Devine Comedy,” it’s likely Virgil would have guided him into a 10th Circle of the Inferno – one reserved for hackers, those internet vandals with no conscious or care for the damage they do.
Those of you who regularly read the Mesquite Local News on-line have been aware of the problems we’ve faced the past couple of months.
The early acts of cyber vandalism deleted the recent content of the news section. That was a nuisance, but our contracted web host was able to restore many of the missing files from his temporary back-up server, and we manually uploaded the more recent files that hadn’t yet been backed up. That reoccurred every few weeks starting in January. It may have been a rehearsal.
A few weeks ago, the hacker again gained access to the administrative portion of our website, this time deleting all files, including the archives. This went beyond what the web host could restore. We began to upload what stories we still had until Friday, April 27, when the hacker again stripped the site of all of its content.
Stephens Media Group, the parent company of the Mesquite Local News, already was working on a new, company-managed website for us, and accelerated getting the new site ready to go live. That happened last week.
The new site is an improvement. It offers more services and information than before. Some of the new features include a ‘Breaking News’ alert, an updated comment system – you’ll be able to see how many comments a story has before you open it, an e-newsletter subscription, and much more.
As with most things, it will take some getting used to, for us to manage and for you, our readers to navigate. But the new site promises to function as a better as a source for local news and events.
Regular readers who have bookmarked our web address – www.mesquitelocalnews.com -- will notice the site doesn’t fully download to their computers. You’ll need to re-enter the address and set a new bookmark or again make it your browser’s home page.
We’ve already received some positive comments from readers. But one reader asked: “Where’s the archives? Where’s all of the history of Mesquite since the Mesquite Local News began to report on the community.?
Those archives are lost, as frequently happens when a newspaper changes its website contractor.
But don’t lay blame on our former web host. It lies with the hacker who deleted the information.
The hacker didn’t just hurt this publication, the community, itself, was hurt by losing a record of its recent history, family achievements, and obituaries.
The Mesquite Police Department is investigating the crime – and it is a crime.
We were told they have developed a suspect, but cyber crime is difficult to prove.
Nonetheless, we hope justice will be done -- and soon before this hacker can do more damage to anyone else.