I'm hoping someone has some experience or suggestions about dealing with the following situation.
As a hobby, I do some creative writing. About a year ago, I joined a ZetaBoard forum where people could post their writing and readers can comment. When you post, you are elevated to "writer" status, get a subforum for your works, and have some control over the content of that subforum. Everything was fine for several months. At the end of December, however, someone hacked the site. I don't know exactly how, but they managed to raise one of the members to an administrator, and through that account, banned the other administrators so they could not stop the hacking, made a mess of the forum by moving threads around, banned all the members, and then deleted the forum entirely.
We got the board restored after a few days, but because the user had moved a bunch of things around before deleting the forum, it took days to move all the threads to their proper place. (Imagine it as if someone manually moved all the subforums here and jumbled them so that the skating threads were mixed withing politically incorrect and secret sources threads were public.) The user who was promoted to administrator during the hack was banned as were some other users that were accused of being involved.
What didn't sit well with me was that the users pointing the fingers also immediately blamed the administrators of allowing the hack to happened. These users happened to be some of our younger members, mainly late-teen/college age, who had been agitating to be made administrators on the site. Within minutes of the hack, they were tweeting demands for the existing admins to step down. The next day, they created a competing site. But it did not receive much traffic and not many members from the original group joined their site.
Out site repaired the damage as best it could and proceeded without them. Things started to return to normal, but then we began having some minor issues. The site had a shout box from which shouts started being deleted. Because writers control their subforums, including deleting posts there, the settings for the site also allow any person with "writer" status to delete shouts. In looking at the timing of when the shouts were deleted, we found that the deletions often corresponded with times when the users who had created the competing sites were active on our site. To prevent further deletions of shouts, the administrators changed withdrew those members' "writer" status. That was earlier this week. A few of them complained and one wound up getting banned.
Yesterday, the site was hacked again. The hack itself occurred in a very similar manner to the first hack, with the user taking an account, elevating it to Admin status, deleting the other administrators, moving things around, and then deleting the entire site. The account elevated to administrator status was one of the user accounts that was banned after the first attack. But so was another user account -- an account of a user not suspected of involvement with the first hack, but of a user who had a nasty feud with the people who formed the competing site. The hackers also announced that our site is "RIP" and directed visitors to the competing site. Meanwhile, some of our writers who are unaware of all of the behind-the-scenes drama are considering moving to the competing site because it is now perceived as "safer" than the original site.
The people from the competing site are claiming no involvement, but it is difficult for me to believe that nobody over there is connected. The administrators have tried getting assistance from ZetaBoards support and they may ask Twitter, because the site's related Twitter account also was hacked, but they were not very helpful before. So I was wondering if anyone knows of any groups or even people we can hire who might be able to helps us find out who is behind this and whether they are connected to the other site.
I can't believe I'm even considering this over something as silly as an online writing forum, but it really feels like a violation of our community. Some of our members may have lost their creative works because ZetaBoards does not allow threads to be downloaded and they did not have complete back-ups. We all will have lost the valuable feedback we received from other members. And I am infuriated that this all may be due to some immature former members being upset that they were not put in charge so they decided to destroy our board so our members would have no choice but to go to theirs.
If anyone has experience with these kind of things or suggestions about what we can do, I would appreciate it.