Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A Turkish Hack

As many of you know, I put out an on-line neighborhood newsletter, The Hillsdale News. A couple of weeks ago, a hacker (from Turkey of all places) managed to wipe out the newsletter.

Restoring it was a fairly simple matter, and Todd Coward, who manages the server for the site (and those of several other Portland neighborhoods) thought he had blocked the hacker’s entry.

He was wrong.

A week later, The Hillsdale News site, as well as Hillsdalebusiness.org, was once again inaccessible, although Todd had it up and running in a couple of days.

The hacker’s point of entry seems to have been a calendar program used by some other neighborhoods, also Todd’s clients.

In addition to being troubling, hacking is perplexing. Who would get his jollies by obliterating Portland neighborhood news? And from Turkey no less?

I never thought that anyone would want to destroy news of Food Front, the Multnomah Farmers Market and a solar Panel at Rieke Elementary School. What's the point?

Those knowledgeable about such matters no doubt will tell me that the hackers don’t care about content. The challenge is cracking the system. The destruction is evidence of their success.

From time to time I’ve written here about the end of newsprint and the rise of the internet, but the “Turkish Hack” has altered my outlook.

Do we suddenly have to live with information impermanence and vulnerability? Must we commit to print everything worth saving that is now stored in our computers?

And what about the biggest hackers of all? Nuclear war? Asteroids?

How do you back up for those?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

A: Don't worry, it's most likely not personal. Modern "hackers" (a severe misuse of the original term) generally use software which crawls the Internet looking for servers hosting software with known vulnerabilities.

B: Electronic information is at greater risk of being impermanent (at least for now), however organizations exist which attempt to catalog and archive the Internet. The most well-known of these is the Internet Wayback Machine at archive.org -- you can look up past snapshots from years ago of many, perhaps most, web sites. (Much to the embarrassment of those who have tried to wipe away their own ill-advised past content...)

12:13 AM  

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