Uh...am I being hacked?
October 13, 2016 12:40 PM   Subscribe

Okay does it mean something bad when a website Vimeo doesn't appear correctly on TWO different browsers I have - safari and chrome? Especially when website looks perfectly fine on other people's computers? Also I have a mac.

Basically it all looks like the empty website that's up when there's a problem. No background. No images. All letters and blue links. About a month ago I clicked on some website that WAS hacked. I turned off my internet, cleared my cache and history and just assumed I was good because I'm on a mac.

But - and this may be me being paranoid - but it's all been a little off since then. I'll hit enter for google images and nothing will happen. I'll have to re-click on it as a web search and then go BACK to google images to search that.

I don't think I have any blockers or adblock things on here. And even if i had it on one I wouldn't have it on two. IS this a symptom of something? Or is this just some mac finally getting rid to give up the ghost (it IS a 2011 iMac) How would I know?
posted by rileyray3000 to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's hard to come up with a theory based on hacking in which the hackers try to limit your use of a non-pay site.

This is probably more of a "contact Vimeo support" issue, really. If not that, then perhaps a broader connectivity or firewall issue on your own system.

It doesn't smell like anything sinister. Just one of those annoying hassles a person sometimes has to unravel in the digital age.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:56 PM on October 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

Sounds to me like you just need to clear your cache and cookies for that site, or disable an add-on that is causing the website to not display properly.
posted by AppleTurnover at 1:01 PM on October 13, 2016 [4 favorites]

You are almost certainly not being hacked.

"No background. No images. All letters and blue links" implies that resources (Images, CSS, etc.) that the website is likely serving through content delivery network (CDN) aren't reaching your computer.

In the olden days (or still today with small sites), all of a site's resources sat on a single web server. This could be pretty inefficient if, say, you were in New York City and that site was served off of a machine in San Francisco. The web server would have to send all those images and other static files all the way across the continent.

Enter content delivery networks. A CDN maintains a bunch of servers all over the world. Instead of the site owner putting the files that don't change that much on their own web server, they put it out on the CDN and it gets replicated to the "edges of the network," i.e. to servers that are all over the world and thus physically closer to end users' computers.

So when you hit the Vimeo website, dynamic results (like, say, the "My Favorite Videos" page or something that otherwise has to be uniquely generated for a specific user) would still be served to your compute from Vimeo's web servers in SF (or wherever, just making up this example), but the static resources -- background images, thumbnails, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), etc -- are served to your computer in NYC from a CDN server in, say, Brooklyn. That's a much shorter hop for all those resources, so it speeds up the performance and page load time of the website.

When you see "no background image, no images, all letters and blue links" that's an indication that the CDN that's serving those static resources isn't responding. (The "all letters and blue links" part is because the CSS is missing, and CSS is the instructions for how to define things like font-sizes, font-faces, colors, layout, etc. for plain old HTML. Without CSS most websites today would look like something from 1999.)

Why is the CDN not responding to your computer? Could be a gazillion different reasons. It might resolve itself on its own, but you might try clearing your browser's cache and cookies. That might force a refresh. Also, if you have an ad-blocker installed in your browser, check to see what it's blocking on that page. An aggressive filter might be deciding that the content served from the CDN needs to be blocked.
posted by gritter at 1:19 PM on October 13, 2016 [7 favorites]

That sounds more like an issue with overzealous adblock filters or an extension/add-on that's interfering with things. Seconding that this doesn't sound like something that would result from a hack; malware of that nature will either be very up front about what it wants (usually money or to serve you bunches of ads), or it will try to hide itself so that you don't generally notice its activities.

On preview, what gritter said.
posted by Aleyn at 1:21 PM on October 13, 2016

Response by poster: Well I logged out and logged back in with a guest account. Everything is fine. So what's THAT mean?
posted by rileyray3000 at 1:42 PM on October 13, 2016

A browser's cache, cookies, and ad-block filters are account-specific, so this probably confirms one of those as the source of the problem. Or, it could still have been a problem on the server-side that has been resolved between you logging out and logging back in.
posted by gritter at 1:48 PM on October 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: except I've deleted all the cookies and cleared my cache on both browsers. No dice.
posted by rileyray3000 at 1:49 PM on October 13, 2016

You might try resetting Chrome. This will wipe everything except bookmarks and passwords.
posted by gregr at 2:18 PM on October 13, 2016

It may be a DNS issue -- Chrome can't download the CSS because it can't find the server. Clear just the Chrome DNS cache.
posted by AzraelBrown at 3:03 PM on October 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Did the settings reset and no dice.
posted by rileyray3000 at 3:07 PM on October 13, 2016

Response by poster: Also I have no ad blockers so I'm just lost.
posted by rileyray3000 at 3:22 PM on October 13, 2016

DNS is my guess, too. Did you clear it for the system or just for the browser? Do it for the system here: https://support.apple.com/en-bw/HT202516
posted by Mo Nickels at 4:45 PM on October 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you're in Chrome, hit Ctrl+Shift+J to pull up the developer tools, go over to the Network tab, and reload the page. It should tell you what's failing to load and the HTTP error codes.
posted by mikeh at 8:38 AM on October 14, 2016

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