Blogosphere Black Ops: Hackers Take Aim at Voices of Dissent

As many of you have surely noticed, Empire Burlesque has been under sustained attack by hackers for the past several weeks, with occasional slowdowns or cut-offs in service, and viral infections. What we are seeing is a very serious, very concentrated effort to cripple the site, make it toxic and bring it down -- to shut us up, in other words. The same kind of attacks are being directed at our associated site, Atlantic Free Press, as well. These are not just hacker pranks; the attacks are almost certainly politically motivated: a deliberate attempt to destroy two platforms which offer news and opinions that some powerful entities -- or their bootlicking wannabes -- don't like.

We just want you to know that we will not be silenced by these cowardly attacks. Our webmaster, Richard Kastelein, is manning the trenches, fighting off the attacks, repairing the damage and shoring up our defenses. We would just ask that you stay with us; if you experience some difficulties with the site, don't give it up on us: just keep checking back regularly, for the problem most definitely will be solved, usually in record time. There's not been a hack invented yet that Rich cannot undo.

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As Rich says, this is just one of the costs of doing dissident journalism. If we were back in the days of the Revolution, printing Tom Paine's pamphlets or publishing a dissident newspaper, King George would have sent in his dragoons to trash the place and destroy the printing press. Nowadays, they send in hacker-wankers to root around like plague rats with their code infections and their poison droppings, to suppress the unfettered, unfiltered spread of information about the wicked deeds of the high and mighty. Maybe small sites like Empire Burlesque are test cases: low-hanging fruit, easy to pick off without anyone noticing while refining your techniques and your deep cover modes for taking down the bigger fish later on.

Again, we don't know the exact provenance of our attacks -- although we're working on that -- but one thing is certain: this kind of assault on free expression will be a growing problem in the blogosphere, and not just for writers in, say, China and Iran. Governments, corporations, criminal enterprises, political parties, religious sects, terrorist groups and all kinds of powerful factions who want to escape scrutiny and mask their dirty deals will turn increasingly to hackers to take down their critics, in increasingly sophisticated and insidious ways. The age-old battle between truth and power will go on. And Empire Burlesque will keep fighting the good fight, despite all attempts to silence it.