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FlaglerLive Was Hacked by a Turkish Nut Case With an Allah Complex, But We’re Back

| October 23, 2014

Where the hacker lives. (Rakhee)

Where the hacker lives. (Rakhee)

Islamists have always driven me nuts. They must know it because this morning one of them infiltrated FlaglerLive and started spreading his caliphate fantasies all over the place, hijacking the site for several hours and inflicting horrendous Ottoman-porn music on readers who lingered long enough to trigger it. Something similar happened to The New York Times and the Washington Post in August 2013 (they were attacked by hackers calling themselves the Syrian Electronic Army), and to a Broward County synagogue’s website just two weeks ago, from what I’ve gathered so far. So we’re at least in good company.

pierre tristam flaglerlive editor's blogAt first I thought (and, as I would find out throughout the day from others who thought likewise) that the hackers were more local nut jobs, the sort mutating from Flagler County’s political nut job factory known as the Ronnie Reagan Republican Assemblies. You may recall that it was a couple of their leading dim watts who not long ago confused themselves with undead members of the House Un-American Activities Committee and confused me with a lurking terrorist. But hacking a website is probably giving them too much credit: they’re more into hacking reputations and neighbors, not to mention reality.

I was actually trying to cover closing arguments in the murder trial of Erick Niemi this morning–the man who beat and strangled his 76-year-old landlord Leonard Lynn last year in Palm Coast’s R-Section. (He was found guilty of second-degree murder.) But every fix to the hacking seemed to make matters worse until the Turk at one point managed to circumvent what I’d put in place to circumvent him (a temporary front page to outflank his caliphate promises). He managed to override every page on the site. We had our server techs on the job but they didn’t seem to react very fast. (FlaglerLive has its own server but it’s hosted by Host Gator, in Texas, a one-immaculate company that lost a few steps when it was acquired by another a couple of years ago.)


By mid-afternoon the culprit was clear as a Facebook profile: he’d put a link to his own page on one of his hack posts, taking readers to the southwestern coast of Turkey that once lurked with more Homeric than criminal code. Sadly, ironically, the town with its red-tiled roofs and small fishing boats, its minarets and small roads paved with ancient history, looks more like one of the seaside towns of my country of origin than anything else. Why shouldn’t it? Hackers have nothing to do with their surroundings. Their cowardice thrives on nameless distance.

Our site trackers showed just two visits from that town during the morning, both of them from someone who was managing to hit pages he had no business hitting: it was him. He’s been blocked, a mess of malicious code he’d managed to throw in has been removed from the site, passwords were changed, and by sundown it looked like the site was mostly back to its pre-hacking self. Several glitches remain, suggesting that the microbes are not all gone. I have no doubt his kind knows how to find ways around anything. Who knows what revenge the hacker(s) may have up their turbans in the morning.

It wasn’t a good day. It felt like having my home ransacked and occupied. What hair I gained back after radiation in spring is ready to fall off again. But at least the attack was repealed–for now. Between Home Depot and Target forcing us to change our credit cards twice in the past year after their data was hacked, major news organizations being no safer than county websites and places like the Rand Corporation and the Pentagon drumming out warning after warning about the nation’s failing cyber security, I’m not reassured.

We worry about Ebola, an illness that for all its devastation in West Africa won’t and can’t make a dent in this country. But it’s the electronic Ebola ahead we should probably be more concerned about. When a sonofabitch in a seaside Mediterranean town seven time zones away can infiltrate a website for no better reason than fanatic malice, there’s not much by way of security on the web. We’re all a keyboard away from the demented hacker next door. And they’re all next door now, even when they’re 7,000 miles away.

Pierre Tristam is FlaglerLive’s editor. Reach him by email here or follow him on Twitter @PierreTristam.

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27 Responses for “FlaglerLive Was Hacked by a Turkish Nut Case With an Allah Complex, But We’re Back”

  1. Nancy N says:

    Glad to see you up and operating again, Pierre. As a fellow website operator, I can understand your feeling of having your “home” violated. Mean people suck.

  2. Anonymous says:

    You sure it wasn’t Bush who did it?

  3. Frank Sturgis says:

    That is of course implying this wasn’t Agitprop to bolster support from the upcoming war in the middle east against “ISIS” or is it Khorasan Group?

  4. Wow you love to hear yourself type. But I guess that’s the plight of a frustrated liberal.

    Glad you are back and can you please refrain from personal attacks on people of a different political persuasion then yourself, please? I said please twice. Not very professional.

  5. rtvc says:

    Thar was a refreshing moment of quiet. Thank you, mister hacker!!

  6. Carol Mikola says:

    Pierre, despite your having a bad day, your 2nd paragraph made MY day. I realize that hacking is a very serious issue but your portrayal of our “local nut jobs, the sort mutating from Flagler County’s political nut job factory known as the Ronnie Reagan Republican Assemblies” was too funny to take the rest of the article seriously.

    I’ll read it again tomorrow. Glad you’re back on-line.

  7. m&m says:

    Gret job Pierre!!! Now that the system has a new lease on life, are there any plans for returning the Like-Dislike votes on the posts people send in??

  8. Jon Craig says:

    Any IT geek worth his salt could fix him with one iptables line – unless your web server is running Windows, which of course would explain how easily you were owned.

  9. kmedley says:

    FlaglerLive

    So glad to see you have persevered. I agree with your assessment of the local group, “hacking a website is probably giving them too much credit: they’re more into hacking reputations and neighbors, not to mention reality”.

  10. John Smallberries says:

    If you were hacked, there’s a strong chance that it’s because the server you are hosting flaglerlive on had a remote vunerability that was known well enough by hackers to exploit but hadn’t been fixed by the company hosting your website. You might want to ask them why they aren’t on the ball when it comes to fixing security holes.

  11. ken says:

    Why the need to attack a local political group?

  12. Jason W. says:

    Pierre, I think it just as Childish as the other folks out there to be slinging mud at each other as you did to the Regan folks. “But hacking a website is probably giving them too much credit: they’re more into hacking reputations and neighbors, not to mention reality.” (Reminds me of the Governor Race) People may not agree on issues but that does not mean they should act like 1st graders. As a journalist or attempt at being one, you should focus more on organizing your story and analyzing your content. This is not reporting but another way to build up barriers and encourage others to do the same. Real reporting is based on facts and making astute observations and not purely stating ones opinion. If I want to read that, I will switch to “The National Enquirer”. As for the Hacking attack, I am sorry to hear you had to go through that. It is most unbefitting a prominent reporter as yourself. ;)

  13. Seminole Pride says:

    Pierre, you gave me a good laugh this morning. The last time i check the Ronald Reagan guys were a bunch of old folks still living in the last century with their 80’s beliefs, and 80’s capability of how to use internet. Secondly who would attack such a small town website as little ol Flagler Tlmes, when there bigger websites out there. LOL.

  14. Ben FL expat says:

    Being hacked means you’ve arrived. A hacker wouldn’t tinker
    with an irrelevant website.

    Hear hear!

  15. John Bozzo says:

    Sorry you had to go through that Pierre, but at least you came up with a great movie idea: The Zombie Un-American Activities Committee.

  16. Pierre Tristam says:

    Jason, Ken, the Ronnie Reagan impersonators aren’t a political group. They’re politics’ equivalent of that nut job hacker, and there’s good reason for those initial concerns here and even at the Sheriff’s Office that they were at the source of the hacking. It fits their style. With two notable exceptions (only one of them still in the running) they run charlatans for candidates and make demolition of individuals the only plank of what passes for their platforms. It would be as irresponsible to report on them on the same footing as more legitimate candidates as it would be to place a physician on the same footing as a snake-oil salesman. Reporting doesn’t include transcribing bullshit just because people with assumed titles speak them—although, to be fair, even the Times, the Post and the rest of the respectable media did just that with the Bus junta in the run-up to the Iraq war, as you well remember, only to drench us with mea culpas about their irresponsible journalism in subsequent years. My reporting methods hopefully are not that gullible. With the reaganites one can only wish it were disagreements over issues. But they have no issues. They barely have a coherent understanding of politics beyond Pavlovian talking points, let alone what makes local government function, and they certainly don’t know a fact from a flea.

  17. paranoid pilgrim says:

    RRR: “told ya he was a terrorist!!! See, he is aiding and abetting his peoples by being a front I tell ya… providing cover for them to infiltrate our dear murica. That’s what this is about…make no mistake, they want to hijack our freedoms by shutting down our voices!”

    People: (wringing their hands) “What do we do! What do we do!”

    RRR: “Let’s…let’s…let’s…Boycott Flaglerlive!” YEAH! THAT’S IT! LET’S BOYCOTT FLAGLERLIVE!”

    People: “YEAH! YEAH! (chanting) BOYCOTT FLAGLERLIVE! BOYCOTT FLAGLERLIVE!”

    Little kid: (in soft timid voice) “but…but…but…doesn’t that mean they win?

    stupefied silence…

    GORSH DARN IT TO HECK!

  18. boomer says:

    anyone who bashes the right must have NEVER served their country in the military, remember the good old days when americans actually loved this country…old man ronnie had big nuggets this little boy has nothing…

  19. confidential says:

    Pierre, honestly thinking aren’t all politicos kind of charlatan’s?
    In my 23 years residing in Flagler County I have experienced the frustration of supporting candidates running for office on promising platforms that as soon as elected and accommodating their derriere to warn the leather swivel cushioned podium recliner, flipped on us like a hot cake! Simply because money special interest takes over.
    Whether a Reaganite, Good old Conservative Rep, Democrat or NPA we seem to be all pretty fed up with local government non function, indeed over local government plain and simple abuses.
    O good proof of disapproval is the way on which the NPA is consistently gaining members registration and candidates successfully running for office. While we keep busy with the idiotic fight among us, the real outside threats search the opportunity to come up with the fatal strike. Just my concern.

  20. Anita says:

    Welcome back, Pierre.

  21. Mary Juana says:

    rtvc: If it was a refreshing moment of quiet, why torture yourself by even coming on here? Of course it’s your business but I just found your comment nonsensical.

  22. steve says:

    Silly islamist using the infels advanced technology……must be interesting to have a mud hut with wires running to it…..lol

  23. Rob E says:

    Pierre it seems like you have to spend more time trying to explain to folks what you’ve just typed in your article because as soon as they read something they disagree with they are deaf to the rest of the article. Your articles come off clear as day to me, but then again, I think rationally. :) To those who don’t understand what I’m saying, I’m agreeing with Pierre.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Welcome back!

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