Update: Our archival site at TeleRead.com will return on a new host in the very near future. – D.R.

Haven’t we said that long term, WordPress can be a disaster for secure storage of a small site’s contents—well, at least TeleRead’s?

Resources are limited at the world’s oldest ebook news and views site, which goes back to the 1990s.

Now a new challenge arises. A hacker with a claimed .ru address has repeatedly been registering for the TeleRead.com archival site (not TeleRead.org,) as an administrator. Rather than put any old posts at risk, we’ve temporarily taken TeleRead.com offline. Sorry.

It’s a shame. Tens of thousands of people each month still seek out TeleRead.com posts. Happy now, Mr. or Ms. .RU?

My hunch is that one of the .com site’s many WordPress plug-ins is the Achilles heel—ideally my colleagues and I can find and plug up the hole. No luck so far. I’ve even tried two-step logons, with myself as the only WordPress administrator.

This is hardly the first hacker attack we’ve experienced. Security hassles are a major reason why WordPress.com is now TeleRead.org’s host, and why I currently expect the archival version of .com to become simply static HTML, at least in the online version. My trust of PHP is even lower than before.

Well-stocked national digital libraries, anyone—with provisions for secure storage of born-digital content like ours? Yes, I’d be happy to pay a small fee. And of course there should be provisions for owners’ independent offline backup.

Meanwhile if you want to read an old TeleRead.com post and the link from this .org site doesn’t work, just paste the URL into the Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive. Our writers can link when possible to old content at the Archive.

TeleRead’s nonCMS version dates back to 1995, and actually that date is conservative, since we were  earlier on an server at the old Clark.Net. Another pioneering site, in Australia, e-book.com.au, years younger than ours, shut down in 2015.

The National Library of Australia promptly acted to permanently archive Bruce’s Australian E-Book Newsletter. Kudos to Bruce Preston, the publisher, for seeking preservation.

“Does the Library of Congress do the same for any US sites?” Bruce asked in a comment on our post about the shutdown. “I hope they do. If Teleread were ever to cease—I hope it never will of course—it would be comforting to know that everything that has appeared there would live on regardless.”

Will TeleRead, significant because of its key role in the evolution of ebook standards, not just the evolution of the national digital library vision, end up in Australia or other nonU.S. location someday? Could be.

The U.S. Library of Congress so far has not shown an interest in preservation of TeleRead. Whether or not that changes, I hope that LoC hardens itself against cyber-attacks from people who hate the United States and everything it stands for. Just this month, the bad guys attacked LoC and some other U.S. sites, resulting in their being down for two days or so. I haven’t heard of malicious hackers corrupting books or other content at LoC, but who knows about the future?

On the bright side, maybe LoC will now show just a little more understanding of the plight of TeleRead and other small but important sites facing their own share of security threats—not to mention the inherent risks to content reliant on PHP and databases rather than mere HTML, TXT or variants.