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November 13, 2006

Downsize DC has been attacked

On Sunday, a human being registered to use our website, sent a message to Congress, and then “ran a script” on our system to generate nearly 50,000 pieces of spam through our server.

As a result, America Online has temporarily blacklisted us. AOL users probably won’t get this message.

We discovered the problem this morning. The offending registration has been deleted and the problem has been patched so the script will not work again. Our database was never compromised or at risk of being compromised.

Blacklisting means we cannot get emails through Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who recognize the problem and take action to block their customers from getting spam. There is a risk that others will blacklist us even today, but since the problem is now solved, with each passing hour that risk diminishes. We’re told the AOL blacklist will expire in roughly 24 hours.

Was this individual attacking us for our views? We have no way of knowing. It does appear that he or she tried to do the same thing a bit earlier this weekend and failed for some reason, but we can’t tell for sure. The registration appeared just after yesterday’s Dispatch went out. Perhaps this person didn’t like the topic. Who knows?

I do know that we expect to be maliciously attacked. We know of other times that it has happened even in recent months where we foiled the attack. This time though, we’ve suffered some damage, albeit temporarily.

The problem is that Congress is coming back to work on Tuesday. As we told you on Friday, our plan for today was a message about the warrantless surveillance bill and telecom immunity for violations of privacy already committed.

As a result of this attack, I don’t have time today to explain, in detail, what’s happening in Congress. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do that in tomorrow’s Dispatch. But we worked this issue in September and most of you know what’s at stake.

Congress needs to be greeted with lots of messages NOW. Please take immediate action in our “No Warrant? No Search campaign.” You can do that right now.

But I also want to ask you a favor. Reports due to government officials, attacks by vicious people, and a lame-duck Congress has the Downsize DC team, and me in particular, hopping this week. The end of the year holidays are usually times of financial downturn as people are caught up with hectic schedules and the expense of gift-giving.

But the good news is that to meet budget we need only about $3,505. That’s an amount we should raise between now and the end of the month, with some vigilance.

Vigilance is required. Someone had to be here to catch the problem once we were attacked. Someone had to be here with the knowledge and experience to diagnose and fix it. Someone has to be here to keep an eye on Congress and write these messages to tell you about it. We’re being vigilant.

But vigilance isn’t free. And we have no one else to turn to in times like these but you. We count on you, our DC Downsizer family, to help keep us going.

Please consider a generous donation or a monthly pledge.

Thank you for being a DC Downsizer,

Jim Babka
President, Inc.

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