Avsim, a flight sim resource and support site that's been in operation for more than a decade, was recently "destroyed" when hackers attacked the site's two servers.
Founded in 1996, Avsim grew to become one of the largest flight simulator support communities on the internet. The site focused heavily on free downloadable content for Microsoft Flight Simulator but catered to flight simulator fans and the aviation community in general; PC Pilot Editor Derek Davis described Avsim as "an important site, because it services the whole community as a source of community-developed terrains, skins and mods - its contribution has been immeasurable."
But that contribution may now be lost. Hackers attacked the site's two servers last week and unfortunately, Avsim did not maintain an external backup of its data. Instead, over the years it had merely performed backups between the two servers. "The method of the hack makes recovery difficult, if not impossible, to recover from," Avsim founder Tom Allensworth said in a statement following the attack. "Avsim is totally offline at this time and we expect to be so for some time to come. We are not able to predict when we will be back online, if we can come back at all. "
"Some have asked whether or not we had back-ups. Yes, we dutifully backed up our servers every day. Unfortunately, we backed up the servers between our two servers," he added. "The hacker took out both servers, destroying our ability to use one or the other back-up to remedy the situation."
Allensworth has put a temporary forum online to help maintain the community and keep its users informed about the recovery process. In a message posted this morning, he said one of the site's two servers was "hacked into oblivion" while the other suffered the same attack but somewhat ironically was saved by a bad sector, which prevented the hacker from doing a complete wipe of the disk. Data recovery efforts are underway and both disks are being analyzed for traces of the attacker.
"It means we are not dead in the water. At least not yet," Allensworth wrote. "We were definitely sabotaged and we are looking to recover footprints on all of the servers and disks that we have at our disposal to provide the facts to substantiate legal actions being taken against the perpetrator(s)." He added that he is "pretty confident" that the Avsim library can be retrieved and rebuilt.
With any luck, Avsim will be able to recover much of its data and bounce back from this attack better, and more secure, than ever. A successful prosecution of the hackers who destroyed the site would be a great bonus, too. In the meantime, let's all learn something from this: Take your backup strategy seriously and don't assume people aren't destructive jerks.