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AntiOnline Forces Packet Storm Security OffLine

Written by Cult_Hero and Space Rogue [ forwarded by Kragen
Sitaker -lt ed ]

Wednesday afternoon, the PacketStorm Security site (packetstorm.harvard.edu) was
abruptly shut down with little warning. PacketStorm was one of the
largest and most respected sites catering to security professionals
worldwide. Boasting an average of 400,000 hits a day, pushing out
roughly 10 gigs of traffic, the site was a valuable resource to an
estimated 10,000 security professionals world wide.

This major security resource did not suffer at the hands of
hackers, crackers, network intruders, or cyber terrorists. Instead,
a new kind of malicious bad guy found success through a fear that
haunts more and more Americans today. A single piece of email from
John Vranesevich (founder of AntiOnline) to the university hosting
Packetstorm requested that the site be shut down. This email
claimed that PacketStorm was hosting potentially libelous material
about John Vranesevich. Like most US institutions, the idea of
being taken to court for any reason is enough to scare them into
hasty action. With that mail, Harvard University pulled the
plug.

Email from Ken Williams, primary administrator for the site,
indicated that not only did Harvard shut down the site, they denied
him access to the machine and all information stored on it. The
correspondence noted the likelihood that all information on the
machine, and all backups would be destroyed in order to avoid any
sort of legal fallout from AntiOnline. “All of the content and the
backups made are either destroyed, being destroyed now, or will be
before I can do anything to prevent it.” said PacketStorm founder
Ken Williams.

Williams went on to say that he does not fear any fraudulent
lawsuit Vranesevich could attempt to level at him. The information
contained on the site regarding Vranesevich was not in violation of
any US law that he was aware of, and had been there for over a
year. Along with the security site, months of William’s own school
work was lost. “I have just lost seven weeks of [class] work and
data that cannot be replaced in 4 weeks.” Williams said, referring
to deadlines on the school work.

“What bothers me the most is that all of the countless
hours I put into that web site and the archives, thousands of
hours, are gone now, for good.” – Ken Williams, PacketStorm
founder

These vague and unfounded accusations only serve to hurt the
security community. AntiOnline’s mission statement claims they
exist “to educate the public on computer security related issues.”
Apparently, this mission statement forgot to include such things
like “educate the public through OUR site only” or “as long as we
profit from it”.

So now what? Ken is fearing for his job, and wonders if he will
be able to finish school with his schoolwork missing. Numerous
offers of alternate host sites have been made to Ken Williams but
it is unlikely that there is data available to put on such a site
due to Harvard Universities hasty actions.

For examples of the ‘libelous’ material hosted on the Packet
Storm site see attrition.org

Ken Williams was kind enough to provide his thoughts on this
sordid mess.

Email from Ken Williams

We attempted to contact John Vranesevich for comment but he did
not respond to our email. We also attempted to contact AntiOnline’s
ISP and have received no reply.

John Vranesevich has posted his version of events on his
site.

Comments from John Vranesevich

Oh, yeah, AntiOnline considers HNN evil and blocks links from
HNN to his web site. We assume that he doesn’t want people to read
both sides of the issue.