Avsim Hijacked, Crashes: Oh the Humanity!

By Mike on 7:20 pm

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The flight sim community is in mourning this week after the loss of one of the hobby's biggest repositories of addon content for Microsoft Flight Simulator. On May 13th, the site was hacked and it's two servers were brought to their knees. Twelve years worth of content supplied by the site's 60,000 members , including the forums and the file section, were wiped out in minutes. According to the site's administrator Tom Allensworth, restoring content will be extremely difficult if not outright impossible. The attack has left many in the tech community scratching their heads. One commenter on The Register was confused as to why an attack of this magnitude would be launched against a non-commercial hobby site. Indeed, there is no financial gain to be made by simply deleting data. Some speculate that it could be a test for a larger attack or was possibly done by a disgruntled staff/site member. Nobody has claimed responsibility so far at the time of writing. In the wake of the disaster, Allensworth has come under fire by those in IT for Avsim's purportedly lax security. While Allensworth claims there were no successful hack attempts on the site in its history, server experts have questioned why no offline backups were ever made. Avsim did have a duplicate server but that data was also online, making it an easy target for any hacker able to break into the main server. Using duplicate servers is a common form of redundancy in case of hardware failure but it is not a substitute for proper backups. "Mark" of UK based flight simulation news site FlightSimX, who is donating bandwidth for a possible resurrection of Avsim, laid blame directly on Avsim's administrators for not adequately securing their data.

Currently, Avsim still exists as a temporary web forum but those looking to download files are out of luck. The forum provides more information on the hack as well as progress for getting the site restored. Users will have to sign up again since old user names and passwords no longer work. I've been a member of Avsim for a long time and even though I really don't use FS that often anymore, it's sad to see it go. However, I agree with FlightSimX that the site's administrators should have known better. Hopefully Avsim's many content providers were smart enough to keep backups of their own work and are willing to upload it again should the site be restored. There's an important lesson is to be learned from this. Always backup your important data. Even if you're unlikely to be hacked, computers aren't perpetual machines; they do fail.

Source: The Register

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