Are you wondering where all the images went?
Well, it would appear as though a hacker has decided to come in and erase those files. I’d like to think that it was somehow politically motivated, but right now it looks as though it was just some second-rate hacker looking to exploit a pretty well documented security hole in the open-source software we use to run MM.com. I’ve been trying to come up with an analogy and the best that I can come up with is that it’s like a young thug pushing an elderly woman over, and running off with her walker and her family photo albums while yelling “I own you!”
And, yes, I’m aware that I just cast myself as a helpless elderly woman (sadly, I am when it comes to technology), and, yes, the guy who did it did say something like, “I own you.” In the brief message that he left, he also identified himself as an Iranian hacker. (If I were a hacker in Iran, I think I’d be a bit more interested in using my skills to expose and bring down extremist clerics than eliminating the family photos of a depressive midwesterner, but that’s just me.)
So, an Iranian asshole wiped out every image I’ve ever posted, and I’m thinking about “taking my ball and going home.” At least that’s how Linette put it last night. (She’d rather that I stay here and fight.) Echoing Linette’s sentiments, our friend Patty says that I’d be “letting the terrorists win” if I walked away now. (She also said, and I don’t know that she’d want me sharing this, that this attack was more devastating than the one on 9/11.)
The truth is, I’d been thinking about pulling the plug on this site for a long time now, and this recent incident may have just served to hasten along the inevitable. I think we all knew that this site jumped the shark with my decision to write in the character of the baby, Clementine. (I thought that she might deliver a younger demographic.) And, I’m not too proud to admit that I burned-out creatively at about he same time. Yes, there have been the occasional bursts of greatness, like the interviews with Peter Falk and John Edwards, the mentions by the BBC, and with projects like Zombie Claus, but, on the whole, it’s just a faint echo of what we once had. And, I think we all know it.
With all of that said, I should add that I’m not so sure that this is going to be permanent. Bloggers, as you might know, in addition to being insecure and obsessive by nature, are a fickle bunch. And, as I realize that, I’m not going to say definitively that you’ll never hear from me again. (That’s what you would have heard me saying last night, but I’ve calmed down a little since then.) All I’m going to say right now is that you’d better start looking for more reliable sources for your daily fix of whatever it is that you’ve been getting here. I may take a month or so off, or I may just be leaving terse little observations every now and then, but it certainly won’t be anything like the reams of content I’ve been dumping these past few years on a nightly basis.
So, now you know. It’s not exactly the news I was hoping to share with you as we prepare to enter the new year, but maybe it’s a good thing. Maybe this will give some of us the time to actually start doing things in the real world, with real people. (I, for one, plan to focus on the new issue of “Crimewave,” and some other things that have been hanging over my head.)
One more thing… For the record, I don’t regret any of the time or effort that I’ve put into this site over the past four years. If I had it all to do over again, I’d do it the exact same way. I’ve met some really incredible people through this site, and it’s opened up some possibilities for me that wouldn’t have otherwise been there for me. I loved all of your comments and looked forward to coming home every night, putting the baby to sleep, reading what you all had to say and joining in on the debate. I don’t want to get all sappy, but I think we had something really special here, and I’ll miss it. (It’s been my experience that communities like this, either in the real world or on-line, are pretty hard to come by.)
One other important lesson I’ve taken away from this experience: always backup. I didn’t do it with any consistency with my photos, and, as a result, I don’t think that most of the work here that I’ve done can be recreated. I might, if I can find the time, try to rebuild what I can, but I don’t relish the idea of spending weeks of my life trying to do what I’d already done once before. (I did write a note to the hacker asking that he replace the images, on the off chance that he has them, but I suspect that he probably doesn’t have the ability to do so. The fact that he left his email address suggests to me that he probably just gets off on having people grovel, but I went ahead and sent a note anyway, hoping that perhaps it might lead to my at least getting some of my old images back, especially the ones of my daughter.)
So, to reiterate, we were fucked yesterday. A real badass Iranian hacker found a way in and destroyed my site. A monkey could have done it. I’m using open-source software and the security limitations are pretty well documented. I guess I never really thought that it would happen to me though. I guess I knew that hackers were out there, but I never really thought that they’d bother going after such easy prey. I thought any hacker worth a damn would be going after Microsoft and the NSA. But, I guess second-rate hackers need to have their fun too.
I suppose it’s possible that it has something to do with the fact that I’ve never restrained myself when it came to saying what I felt about militant Islamic theocracies (like the one in Iran). It would make me feel a lot better if that were the case, but I suspect that it wasn’t. (If you have a moment, and if you want to cheer me up, please leave a comment telling me this is what I get for suggesting that women should have equality with men and that burkas, like the chains of slavery, should be abolished forever. (Bonus points if you can work in the phrase “American pig dog.”))
I wish I could be more eloquent here, and really sum up what I’ve come to learn over the past few years that I’ve spent on-line, but I just don’t know what to say. I guess I’ve learned that people are shortsighted and stupid. And that backing up your files is probably a good thing to do.
Now I will begin the next phase of my life — lobbying for the United States military to begin the indiscriminate bombing of the people of Iran until my hacker is dead.
It was nice knowing you.
update: Thanks to the efforts of Steve Cherry, most of the pre-2005 images have now been restored.