Tag Archives: terrorism

Trojan Terrorism

Recently, the Dew has come under an attack from presumed terrorists. The Patriot Act was useless to help keep us safe. These people are smart, motivated, well-financed and uncaring.

This was a malicious attack. We don’t have any private information or accounts to steal, so none was at risk. It was just a mean spirited bastardly thing to do. We join a long, and some distinguished, list of sites that have been attacked and hacked.

For weeks, these criminals have been bombarding the dew with site registrations – often as many as 20,000 in a single day hoping to find a weakness to exploit. We have continued to ratchet up security settings, adding layers of security and tests – sometimes hourly – hoping they would just give up. Apparently, it just made them mad. (I apologize, will you stop now? Please?)

trojan horse

© BVDC - Fotolia.com

Generally speaking, these types of terrorists are sponsored by the Eastern European mafia, though they could be from anywhere (you are all suspects). They use sophisticated computers to attack sites. When that doesn’t work, they turn to the third world and pay a few pennies to people who would starve otherwise to spend their days in front of a computer hoping to post a link to site and earn their dirty money. (I’ll feed you if you stop. Please.)

Most recently, they injected a Wonka Trojan Horse – I kid you not, though I assume you can get one by visiting your local chocolate factory website or by googling it. The code was planted in above our “header” that appears at the top of each of our pages and began setting off alarms. I received my first email about it late Monday AM. We ran Trojan scans on our server, didn’t find it, made some changes and hoped we were OK. About 3:30 PM, I got an email from a Dew reader reporting that his computer had been wiped out by a virus on our site. We immediately shut down the site.

The virus was found. The holes in our security were plugged. We examined many thousands of files for additional infection. We deleted many registered users (comment and author users have been preserved. We reset all cookies and all passwords (if you are registered on the Dew, your old password will no longer work and you must click the “Lost your password?” link to receive your new password via email). We installed a firewall on our cloud server and drastically altered privileges of users that had permission to get to the administration side of our site.

We thought all was OK. We hoped all OK. But it the Trojan reappeared. So we spent Tuesday and Wednesday going through the site. Reinstalling everything. Wiping most all files. Restoring from back ups (nothing was lost). Manually going through each of the thousands of folders to check dates and review data.

Since the Dew’s beginning, we purposely allowed some functions to be easy and rich for our readers and users. Functions that we knew made us vulnerable should some nefarious type wish us harm. No longer will the links in your comments be hot. No longer will images or html code be accepted comments. No longer will users be able to use short easy to remember passwords.

We have turned off new registration for the time being (we’ll announce a new policy soon) – if you wish to submit a story, send me an email and I’ll set you up. We reviewed logs and banned and blacklisted suspect IP addresses (this is a waste of time as they hide behind proxy servers all over the world). We have washed, cleaned and have hope. All to say, the site is back on. You might notice a few changes and some features that we haven’t gotten to work, yet, but… we hope again (ahh, the arrogance of hope!).

Don’t count on it. Check your computer’s security settings (especially if you use a PC) and take things seriously (but, no immediate need for plastic wrap or duct tape). If you get warned by a browser message, believe it, stop and let me know (click here to send an email report). If you  haven’t already, please install virus protection software on your computer (Avast, McAffee, etc.) and for goodness sake, back up your computer regularly.

We must remain vigilant – individually and as a community. If you notice something suspicious, please let me know.

Unlike a recent President, we have little hope of “smoking them out of their holes.” My preference is that they would just go back to them.

Faith Based Security

There’s a reason Sadam Hussein was good at security. He had everyone killed that he suspected. He also carried out pre-emptive murder. Ditto Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Milosevic, Idi Amin, Jean-Paul Akayesu, Abdul Hamid II and more than you would tolerate listing here. It still works today in way too much of the world – China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, North Korea, Zimbabwe, Darfur, Burma, Iran and others.

We, in America, practice faith-based security. We believe (or choose to pretend) that we are safe. That democracy works. That we count all the ballots. That capitalism isn’t rigged. That justice is best served in courts. That civil rights, privacy, liberty and the right to own guns, trump a more absolute form to guarantee public order. That obeying our laws makes us safer. When something goes wrong – 9-11, Pearl Harbor, Firing on Fort Sumter, etc. as examples – our government has special powers to temporarily suspend these rights so that our faith can be restored.

airport securityOur government spends hundreds of billions of dollars each year to protect us and keep us believing while enjoying the fruits of freedom – intercepting phone calls, spy satellites, agents on the ground, interdicting suspected evil doers, and the like. When the Clinton administration foiled a planned millennium bombing attack on Los Angeles, it was luck and the system worked. When they didn’t in Oklahoma City; the 1993 World Trade Center; Centennial Olympic Park; the Birmingham, Pensacola, Brookline, Amherst abortion clinics; or Columbine; they weren’t lucky and the system didn’t work. Ditto the Bush years: 9-11; anthrax mailings, LAX, Beltway sniper; Riyadh compound, and all those bombings in Iraq, they weren’t lucky and the system failed. When they stopped the shoe bomber, they were lucky and the system worked.

No matter what Dick Cheney says, short of suspending all basic freedoms, imprisoning, or executing all we suspect, there is little we can do to stop it all. It takes luck. We spy, x-ray, screen, watch our lists, take our shoes off and wait endlessly in line; take names and invade countries harboring evil doers, but it is just part of making us believe we are safe so we can live out our lives normally and free. Our chemical plants, the water we drink, our power plants, grid, and ports are unguarded, or barely guarded. Were Omar Farouk Abdulmutallab to have chosen to take out thousands at a football game instead of a couple of hundred on an airliner, he would have had no problem.

Sure, when the Christmas terrorist was reported by his father, we should have put his name on the No-Fly list along with 3,400 others; or on  the Selectee list with 14,000 others; or the Terrorist Watch list with 400,000 others; instead of just the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment list with 750,000 others; but we didn’t.

The bomb didn’t work – not because he was stopped when he went through airport security in Nigeria. We just had made it difficult enough that it didn’t work – this time. Sure, we need to do better. Be more vigilent. Get the huge database lists to work more effectively. But the system worked just as it does most of the time when we are lucky. The system we have used since the beginning. The faith-based security system. We believe, therefore we are. I depend on the same system each time I get behind the wheel of a car.

Terrorism is nothing new, not even to us. For a list of terrorist attacks dating back to 1800, click here.

A sermon for the choir

Listen up you godless, spineless, irrational, sushi-eating, America-blaming, terrorist-coddling, morally superior, Hollywood-humping, liberal, defeatocrat, progressive, elitist, Marxist, business-bashing, whining, pinko, tree-hugging, vegan-exalting, crackpot, sanctimonious, stem-cell-sucking, tofu-chomping, out-of-touch, pantywaist, tax-hiking, Obamaton snobs*. This is a defining moment. A tipping point. A chance such as we have never had before. A chance that we, the world, will never have again.perfect_storm

This is the moment. It will define the future of our children and generations to come. Forever. This is a planet-changing moment. Life and death serious. We have a narrow window and it will close. I fear we are going to blow it. Grab a beer and watch it on TV. Cheat this chance to make our brief moments here matter. I fear, we are going to damn ourselves to an eventual, perhaps, inevitable oblivion and take everyone with us.

You know the litany. The talking points. Stop. Think about them. This is real. A storm more perfect than facts know or fiction dreamed.  We should be in the streets.

Say these things out loud:

  • Rapid climate change is occurring; the ice caps are melting; the oceans are rising, our planet is warming.
  • The world is in a great recession – a world where more than 80% already live on less than $10 a day.
  • People are starving all over the planet.
  • More than a billion people don’t have clean drinking water; almost as many can’t read or write.
  • We have a global pandemic.
  • Iran, Pakistan and North Korea have nuclear weapons.
  • Fundamentalism, ethnic sovereignty and terrorism have made many of the world’s governments unstable.
  • Recipes for bio-weapons are on the internet.
  • Even per capita, there are more guns in the world than ever before.
  • Pollution and over-fishing have 80% of our fish stocks in danger of collapse.
  • Industrial pollution, the overuse of pesticides, antibiotics and fertilizer runoff have all species at risk.
  • Global drilling and mining cartels, most controlled by dictators, hold the world’s economy hostage – while our natural resources dwindle.
  • In the US:
    • We are in two wars – weapons spending continues to increase.
    • Our deficit will be almost $2 trillion this year and will get worse.
    • Medical care gobbles one of every five dollars and will eat more – 1 out of 3 have no health insurance.
    • Most lost half the value of their retirement and investments last year.
    • Half of us have an unemployed family member who won’t find a job this year – it is getting worse.
    • We have record numbers of bankruptcies, mortgage foreclosures and people in prison.
    • Lobbyists and campaign funds continue to control our government.
    • Our farm subsidies have destroyed small farms around the world.
    • 39 states cut 2009 spending for Medicaid, schools and other services for families (12 Southern states out of 16) – more cuts will come for years to come.
    • Our government now insures most mortgages, business and investments around the world.
    • We bailed out Wall Street.

Yet, we have the audacity of hope. A new, smart, charismatic and popular president with a majority in both houses.  Will we have the dramatic change he promised and the world needs? No reason to think so.

More troops are on their way to Afghanistan with no talk of an exit strategy.

  • CIA-guided bombings and other incursions into Pakistan are now routine.
  • Record lobby spending has regulation for Wall Street languishing as Goldman Sachs reports billions of profits on high risk investments.
  • The stimulus bill passed, but is just a band-aid to state budgets, builds too many roads we don’t need, extends some unsustainable benefits for too small a percentage of the unemployed and suffering, does little to create consumption or re-start business, and will rollout so slowly, most of us won’t notice.
  • The energy bill that passed the House and is in the Senate is an insult to all of us who wish to breath and have hope for our future – the Senate is sure to make it worse.
  • The heath care bill has been introduced in the House, but don’t expect much or soon – something is likely to pass this year, but it surely will be a another Congressional camel that sustains all that is bad (private insurance, for instance) while helping some, but not nearly enough.

liberalsearchingfor

It isn’t too late, but our leaders don’t think we care. They don’t believe many of us are paying attention to what they do, only to what talk TV and talk radio say about what they do. They also know our attention span is greater for Michael Jackson than for debate on Capital Hill. They know we won’t hold them accountable in the next election. They know we aren’t organized. That we are too busy worrying about having a place to live, feeding our families, updating our Facebook and ducking calls from credit card companies. They know the generation who took to the streets in the 60’s are in their 60’s. The rest of us are too busy, too lazy, too fearful, too preoccupied.


Bully Pulpit

Brother and sisters, I come before you today a shaken man. I fear our dream will turn into a nightmare. I fear the sinners on Wall Street and K Street will not repent. That the sick and suffering among us will be turned away. That the little children will continue to gather in the refugee camps to pick through the garbage. That the best and brightest will continue to die in service alongside the powerless and innocent collateral damage. I fear the new President will accept the lukewarm bills in Congress – neither hot nor cold, and not spit them out. I fear that sound from the corporate boardrooms, from the sheiks and dictators, from the oil wells to the new car show rooms, will be, “Hallelujah, we did it to them again. Praise greed almighty.”

I have seen the promised land and it is only on TV. Can I please not get an “amen”?

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* Apologies for borrowing “liberally” from the Liberal Insult Generator