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Tom Allensworth

The AVSIM Hack - A Restropective

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On this day, at approximately 10:00 p.m. EST, four years ago, AVSIM was hacked. Or, as it turned out, destroyed from within. You can read the full story here. This is not so much a time of reflection on the hack itself, but on the response of the flight simulation community; you.

 

Without the support and contributions from our readers and community members, AVSIM as you know it today, may not have existed. The community INITIATED on its own a fund raising effort and in the end, contributed over $30,000 to our rebuilding and future system growth. This story is about those of you who saw something in AVSIM that deserved saving. This is a story about those of you who wanted this thing called AVSIM to continue.

 

This topic isn't about the hack necessarily; it is about you and your memories of the time after the hack. Why did you contribute? Why was AVSIM worth your contribution? Your thoughts about then and now? If you lived through those times, give us your insight into your perception of events then and the hindsight that you possess today.



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I sense from your story about the night it happened that it must have been a real blow for you and Stan to watch directories disappear along with so many years of painstaking effort and affectionate cultivation. It must have been a night of horror and escalating panic. Not a fond memory by any means.

 

But for me, distantly removed from the visceral drama, it wasn't so bad. In the days that followed AVSIM remained, it seemed to me, without any sense of discontinuity. It was kinda fun, in fact, adapting to changing circumstances.

 

It was a defining moment for you Tom, a day you'll never forget. But I remember that day with some affection. It was a day on which I realised how much I cared about my membership of the community. I really enjoyed your story too, well worth reading.

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A tale of tragedy and heros, on so many levels.

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Sometimes life is desperately sad.

 

And this was a story about nothing but sadness.    Sadness that someone would take such actions, and sadness regarding the final outcome for someone who was obviously a disturbed individual.

 

Of course the actions of the community to 'resurrect' AVSIM were amazing and positive.   So sad aspects of life can bring about some positive elements.

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It wasn't reasonnably foreseeable for Avsim to know that Dawson would be involved with a sex predator and go on a  holiday to Turkey with a boy who also stayed over at weekends with them in 2011. And I don't believe that it was reasonnably foreseeable for Tom to have  doubts about Dawson prior to the hack. I'm nevertheless concerned about the young persons who are members of AVSIM and the risk for them to become the targets of perverts. It is what these events have left me with. I never feared that risk before the 2012 revelations regarding Dawson; it had never even crossed my mind.  

 

We need to be vigilant as a community, all of us, not just Tom and his staff; all of us, to make AVSIM safe for all, and especially younger persons. The world of aviation is a very powerfull and spectacular attraction for young people. But even a 12 year old who can use an FMC remains a kid. AVSIM has so much to offer to make learning about aviation so much fun. Let's keep it safe. Let's protect young simmers from predators. Let's keep bullies outta here. And let's be more gratefull for Avsim's it's Board and it's staff who do a very decent job in the face of evil sometimes. 

 

ben   

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Your too modest. You left out the stress you been through and many heads rolled with anger about Avsim. I gave thanks many files were backed up and re-uploaded by their creators and fellow simmers. That day felt like the day Microwings.com went under.

Avsim lives on.

 

Thanks Tom for the time & effort, You never gave up.

 

Cheers,

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This incident demonstrates the power of the comunity. A lot of people contributed when problems arose. I am fairly confident that, even if all the data was lost, the website would have been resurected to former glory. Little ones and zeroes on a hard drive can be deleted, but there is one place that no man can penetrate no matter how hard he tries: our minds. Everything on the forums and in the file library has been made by people who had no financial benefit for their actions. Even if all the files were deleted, we still have the knowledge and love for aviation to do it all over again. I truely hope that AVSIM will outlive all of the people who are reading this today.

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Learned something new today. I was aware that he was behind the hack. I wasn't aware of the subsequent aftermath that was linked in the article. On the flip side, I guess that means we shouldn't be seeing any more spam from the website in the aforementioned article.

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Reading the accounts of what happened on this day in 2009 was extremely interesting and I appreciate and thank Tom for sharing it with the community.  I recall being more than upset to see my favorite flightsim website was no longer up and running.  When the community set up a PayPal account, I immediately donated and continue to do so.  I hope AVSIM stays around forever.

 

Best regards,

Jim

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Quite touching when you think about it.

 

You mods handle abuse and trolling daily, but this actually gave you a real experience of what most Avsim users think: That this is a community worth fighting for.

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The community response was outstanding and glad that the actions of one individual without integrity didn't bring this community down.

 

I have to say though am shocked that " It became apparent that law enforcement in the UK did not consider this incident sufficient to prosecute, nor that the risk of fraud warranted pursuit" , what the hell is that about? Would like to ask them as a UK citizen if it means we can commit consequence free crime in the UK if it just happens to be on a computer.

 

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Some good files died that day, never to be seen online again. *Sigh*

 

 

Lest we forget.

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Back then, I had no clue who or really what Avsim was.

 

I had bumped into it occasionally, but not often or strongly enough for it to register. When other forums started getting threads about Avsim being down, my first reaction was along the lines of "Whats an Avsim?"

 

It was pretty much like watching an anthill get kicked over. Suddenly every forum was exploding with the story, and this huge sense of shock'horror/outrage.

 

Well, I had been a forum moderator at another venue (not related to Simulation) and still didn't really understand the depth of the loss: after all, every site has backups, right?

 

As I followed along and the story got...... more convoluted, I was still a bit clueless. Who the heck would want to attack an airplane site? Soap opera city!

 

Then when people started talking about the library, it finally dawned. "Ohhhhhhh.... that place. Yeah, I've been there to download stuff....... and there was a forum, too?"

 

Well, seeing as how I had used the place to download a thing or two, and it was in trouble, it seemed only fair to sign up for donations if it would help rebuild it.

 

But honestly it was a while before I became a regular visitor. And I still only know the outlines of what happened in the incident, and nothing of the ultimate conclusion.

 

It all seemed so........ unnecessary.

 

Who the heck attacks a flightsim site?

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My memories are vivid, since it's the first and only time I ever received spam on the email address I gave Avsim when I joined. It wasn't long between my notification to Tom about the spam (and I know several others notified him) and when everything fell apart here as Tom investigated and found a suspect. I also remember vividly the disinformation and conspiracy theories claiming Avsim did this all intentionally. I felt sorry for the members who believed this (and for those that still do), since that is how terrorism succeeds--in disturbing others in any way they can. This incident in my mind was terrorism--the work of others was destroyed and people were emotionally hurt. And sometimes emotional hurt has deep physical consequences.

 

I think people contributed because of Avsim's contributions to them over the years. Whether one dollar or twenty it doesn't matter so much as the gesture. I know those who contributed, for the most part, have no regrets. The great site we have today is the end result of all that not to mention the volunteer contributions that are what Avsim is all about.

 

John

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I also remember the incident quite well and the feelings I had after learning what had happened. I felt so sad for Tom / AVSIM and all of their apparently lost forever work. I was, as John mentioned, utterly appalled by some of the accusations that appeared on the forum ( I have become aware of what a Troll is since then. ) that I made my first ever posts on AVSIM to lash out at their, . . . . ahemmmmm, . . . character or lack thereof. It was truly heart warming to witness the outpouring of support and encouragement by the flight simulator community and the collective sigh of relief when Tom announced the intent to rebuild. They have done a fine job of that have they not?

 

As for Phil, at least he won't be harming anyone else and the fact that the last person he was able to harm was himself speaks enough about what a troubled person he was.

 

Best regards to all,

Mel

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Well "OLD" Phil is GONE and Microsoft Flight Simulators are gone.

At 70 years OLD I could get angry at the BAD thing Phil did. I could

get angry at Microsoft GREED but I will let GOD Handle EACH. He

knows best. Happy Simming. MerleG

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