The consumer advocacy website, Consumerist, which has been down nearly a week, had a spotty return this afternoon using the online publishing platform WordPress and alternate content.
Owned by the non-profit group, Consumers Union, publisher of the venerable consumer testing site, Consumer Reports, Consumerist publishes stories about consumer customer service issues and news.
The site normally requires users to register with an email address and password to comment on stories. However, the commenting functionality was temporarily disabled on an alternate version of the website posted today via its new hosting provider while Consumerist investigated its problems, a spokesman said.
On the new Consumerist site, a Q&A called, “What’s Up With Consumerist?” said that the site “received reports that some of our pages had been altered to begin redirecting our traffic to spam websites. We took down as quickly as possible and began investigating.”
Consumerist was investigating if it has been hacked and will publish its findings on the site and notify users via email.
“The passwords are secured in accordance with industry best practices,” the Q&A said. “They are salted and hashed. As a matter of prudence and good practice we always recommend that you do not use the same password at more than one site, including Consumerist.”
Over the summer, Consumerist notified registered users that it had two “security issues.”
“We do not yet know for sure whether any user names, email addresses, or passwords were compromised; all password files were encrypted,” the site said at the time.
Michael Schreiber, editor-in-chief of the personal finance site Credit.com, said it was “strange” that Consumerist may have been targeted because it is a site devoted to consumer financial protection.
“They have a long history advocating for the little guy,” he said.