[NOTE: Scroll down to the end of this post for more recent updates.]
Just as I hit the “Publish” button for my previous post, a disheartening email arrived in my Inbox from Joe Tucker, the owner of RateBeer, a website that I’m sure most readers of this blog are familiar with.
As you might know, RateBeer as been the target of a series of attacks lately, with hackers installing malicious scripts that have downloaded viruses and other nasties on the computers of people visiting the site. Several attempts have been made to solve the security problems, and it looked like the issues were sorted out a couple of weeks ago. But this past weekend, there was another especially bad attack, and Joe is running out of options to get the site fixed and back online.
Here’s what he has to say:
I’m sorry to say that despite our best efforts and an outstanding group of worldwide volunteers and active raters in countries around the the globe, we’ve come to a point where it’s difficult to resume our service to craft beer community.
Recently we’ve come under a steady attack by hackers to shut us down. I’m very sorry to say that for now that they’ve been successful. And I realize that correcting the issue is beyond my abilities and means.
I’m asking you tonight for help.
If you can recommend a top tier Windows IIS/SQL Server security expert or can donate money to RateBeer for the cause please do. Please send help to email@example.com either via PayPal or via mail. I’m trying very hard to bring back our service to the community. Please help.
If you can help in any way, I strongly encourage you to do so. RateBeer is one of the most important online resources for beer lovers, and its loss would be a huge blow for the international beer scene.
UPDATE (November 22nd, 2008):
Since my stats show that a whole lot of people are hitting this post via Google searches for “RateBeer down” and the like, I thought I should post a bit of follow-up info.
After the original problems noted above, RateBeer was down for two weeks or so and given a complete security overhaul. The saite came back up earlier this week, but then went down again without warning yesterday, this time without even a “we’ll be back soon!” splash page.
hi gang, the security team saw the threat tonight while they conducting diagnostics. their move was to continue diagnostics in a safe environment by taking the site down and starting tomorrow morning. This operation is a top to bottom approach by the best specialists I could find. They plan on attacking this as a team first thing tomorrow morning.
The plan this time is a prompt relaunch with guaranteed work.
Thank you to everyone in the community for coming together to bring us back. As we approach 2009, people are talking about change. This was the mantra of RateBeer and Beer Advocate many many years ago and things in the beer world were very different. We are now seeing the fruits of our early labors and the many positive changes in the beer industry we’d hoped for so long ago. These changes have only come about because of people like you all, whose passion has made for monumental worldwide change.
I’m grateful many of you — some without even a RateBeer account — have pitched in to help us continue our work. Thank you, Todd, for helping us out. While we’ve had our superficial differences in the past, deep down we’ve known we’re all in this together.
Thanks for showing what a strong family of committed people we are. It’s this kind of spirit that has been instrumental in the success of craft beer and the spirit that keeps me fighting for the cause.
So, yeah, it’s down again, but should (hopefully) be back soon.
UPDATE (December 1st, 2008):
There are lots of people hitting this post again today doing searches for “ratebeer” and “save ratebeer”. Yes, the site is being hacked again, it’s going up and down like a yo-yo, and when it is up, a lot of functionality isn’t working.
Since I don’t have any direct contact with Joe, I really don’t know what the long-term prognosis is, but for today at least, it seems to be rough sailing.