Digital World: How to beat anti-Israel hackers at their own game
There is a perfectly legal way to get back at sites that skew the facts or tell outright lies about Jews.
By DAVID SHAMAH
While the fighting goes on down south, Israel and the Arab world are engaged in another battle - a cyber one. And right now, we're not doing that well.
Not that the other side is "winning"; when it comes to Internet dominance, Israel's got the competition beat hands down. But the hackers and crackers who are out in force right now, seeking out Israeli- and Jewish-content Web sites to deface, are like swarms of annoying insects.
If you spray - i.e. install protective measures on Web sites - you can keep them at bay. But if they sniff weakness - security holes that Web site administrators are supposed to be on top of - they'll swoop in, invading Web servers and replacing the content with anti-Israel propaganda.
Over the past week, hundreds of Israeli and Jewish sites have been compromised, with anti-Israel propaganda (consisting of messages, graphics and video) installed on sites they take over (you can see a whole gallery of such sites at http://www.arabic-m.com). And propaganda it is; the photos the hackers display of injured Gazans are heartbreaking, but after all, photos aren't always what they seem, as we learned during the Second Lebanon War, documented at http://tinyurl.com/axlt5f, http://tinyurl.com/8sgvfu, and http://tinyurl.com/g2p9n, among others.
The attacks are sophisticated (you have to give them that), to the extent of being able to hijack a whole domain name server (http://tinyurl.com/7bsauq). According to experts I've spoken with, we're dealing with a professional crew of hackers who are probably working for the "axis of evil" governments in the countries they live in (including Syria and Iran). With the right protection, though, sites can be made safe.
But just "being safe" somehow doesn't satisfy in a situation like this; you feel like you want to do more. How is it that they can get away with hacking our sites without feeling some pain on their side? Don't we have hackers - or any other offensive weapons - to fight back with? What can an ordinary, non-programming person do to defend his or her country?
The answer is yes, there is something you can do - and you don't have to be a hacker to take some offensive action. Legal, even! As we all know, hacking is generally looked upon askance by the law. And while I don't think anyone who hacks an anti-Semitic Web site has to worry about being arrested, they may find themselves with a lawsuit on their hands.
However, there is a perfectly legal way to get back at bad sites - sites that skew the facts or tell outright lies about Jews and Israel. How? Just by being a nudnik - the more obnoxious, the better.
The sites that describe in detail how Israel controls the world and is planning to drag all the goyim into World War III have to be hosted somewhere. All you have to do is run a trace-route on the domain name of the site and find out the actual numerical IP address the site uses. That address is registered to a Web site provider, somewhere in the world. Using an on-line tool, you can track ownership of that address - and when you do, it's time to open up your e-mail program and write a scathing letter, complaining about the poor quality of sites hosted on the company's servers (and the fact that it is promoting racism, anti-Semitism and libelous accusations). Mention that your uncle is a lawyer; chances are you'll get satisfaction - doing as good a job of booting a site off the Internet as a hacker would, or even better!
It's actually far less complicated than it sounds. You may already have a trace-route program installed in your computer, but you can also use an on-line trace-route tool; at http://www.geektools.com/traceroute.php, just choose one of the many links (grouped by country; for our purposes, it doesn't matter which one you select. The Israel links are pretty reliable). Type in the name of the host (www.hostname.com, without the http:// at the beginning). The system will begin seeking out the true home of the host, and after about 13 or so "hops," it will present you with an IP address.
Copy that address and surf on over to http://www.ip2location.com/free.asp, which will look for the physical location of the server that IP address is associated with, and usually the name of the hosting company that provides the address. And that's all you need; you can surf to the hosting site and get the appropriate e-mail, to write your complaint to the system administrator, director or other bigwig who takes complaints.
Chances are the site administrators or owners do not realize what screed they are hosting. By the way, there's no law that says they have to check up on the work done by their clients. And while they have no legal obligation to respond positively to your complaints, they probably will, in order not to get a bad reputation, as well as to get you off their back.
If you'd rather let someone else do the hacking for you, by the way, check out http://www.help-israel-win.org/, where they have an application you can download and install that uses group computer technology (sort of like SETI, Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, http://www.seti.org). Their application attacks anti-Israel Web sites; I don't know if it's legal, but it is easy.
But why take chances? With my way, you know you're safe - and you get the satisfaction of seeing the fruits of your work. I know the anti-Israel crowd is going to flip if people use this tactic, which is easy and requires very little, if any, technical skill. When they realize what's happening, they'll probably say, "The Jews own all the Web-hosting sites," etc., which could be the case, but is unlikely.
Fortunately, there are plenty of people - of all types - who have self-respect, and who don't want to be known as the type of people who spread lies and hate. If anyone wants to take this job on (it's really not hard, and it does get results) and doesn't know how to proceed (after reading the instructions carefully, of course), please write and I'll do what I can to help.
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