10 Lessons Learned from the DoS Attack on SurvivalBlog, by The Orange Jeep Dad

Wednesday, Jun 6, 2012

On May 26, 2012 the SurvivalBlog.com server was attacked and knocked offline.  The method of attack used is commonly referred to as a Denial of Service or DoS attack. I won’t delve into who might have sprung the attack nor how it was done. Both topics have been covered.(1)  What will be discussed are the 10 lessons learned from the attack as it pertains to preparedness and survival.

Lesson #1: We don’t know what we don’t know.

We can’t all be experts in everything. Regardless of where you are in the preparedness journey, we’ve all realized at some point that we have a lot to learn in the realm of getting prepared for: TEOTWAWKI, hyperinflation, grid down scenarios, tactical strikes, supply chain disruption, natural disasters, government hostiles, and the list goes on and on.

We knew that SurvivalBlog could go down but we certainly didn’t know when or why it might happen.  Any web site can go down for any number of reasons: web site/server gets hacked, electrical failure at the site of the server, government censorship, domain name hijacked, database failure, programmer uploads some mistyped code, etc, etc. But when SurvivalBlog went silent, it was like the Encyclopedia Britannica of Survivalism went away.

What to remember from this lesson: learn what you can while you can but always try to secure a hard (paper) copy of the topic you are studying in case your source disappears (hard drive, thumb drive, SD cards, printed copy, CD, etc). You won’t regret it and you can always pass your library down to your children.

Lesson #2: Know thy enemy (Sun Tzu - The Art of War).

Prior to the attack on SurvivalBlog, an anonymous and threatening e-mail was sent to JWR.  Among other things, this person used the term “we hack good” indicating a potential to hack the web site.  I would be more than ignorant if I attempted to armchair quarterback JWR on what he could’ve or should’ve done to prepare. But I digress.

FWIW, I have been using SolutionsGrove since October, 2010 for instant notification of my server crashing. With a free account, they will search for a specific page (that you designate) every 15 minutes.  If they do not receive a response, you will be instantly notified.  They will continue to check your site and notify you when it is back online. For a donation, they will check your site every 2 or 5 minutes. I’ve had terrific success with this. I am not affiliated or compensated by this company in any way.

The point is to gather information on your opponent.  Read between the lines. Google their name, phone number, email address, avatar, tag line, meme, even quoted lines from text they’ve written. The more you deduce, the more advantage you have in preparations. To quote a translation of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War: “It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.”(2)

What to remember from this lesson: regarding any topic your are studying, investigate what you see...and don’t see. Not just the physical nature, but the source, where it came from, how did it get there, it’s history.  The more you know, the more prepared you will become.

Lesson #3: Redundancy is your friend.

As I’ve said numerous times on my blog, redundancy is the key to serenity. “Three is two, two is one, one is none”.(3)  If you only have one gun and it gets stolen, then you have none. If you have two guns and one is stolen, you have one left...but what if neighbors show up to help fight off the Golden Horde but have no weapons? My point is, the more you have, the better off you will be in an emergency situation.

In JWR’s case, he has a server in Sweden and the U.S. Both were attacked leaving him dead in the water but even before that he was actively seeking additional off-shore mirror sites.  The more mirrors that he eventually has of SurvivalBlog, then the harder it will be to take it down simultaneously.  He has also added the redundancy protection of an additional URL: “SurvivalBlog.se”. Should iCANN or any other entity take control of his SurvivalBlog.com URL, fans of SurvivalBlog can still reach the site by typing “SurvivalBlog.se” [or one of the two the dotted quad addresses.]

You can be redundant with everything. Here’s is a list of a few things on my redundancy list to give you some basic ideas:

Income- (1) My main job (Sonography, Radiography). (2) My part time job (See #1, different hospital). (3) My wife is nationally certified in Radiology and can work if necessary.

Income skills- (1) Trained in Sonography. (2) Trained in Computed Tomography. (3) Trained in Radiography.

Transportation- (1) The family Suburban. (2) The family Jeep. (3) My auto insurance includes rental car coverage should one of my cars becomes disabled.

Food- (1) Our bi-weekly grocery run. (2) Our garden and short term food storage. (3) Our long term (25+ years) food storage.

Water- (1) House/city water. (2) 55 gallon drums x 12 in backyard. (3) Bottled water in garage.

Shelter- (1) Our house. (2) Our family retreat 2+ hours north of town (3) a retreat property with no shelter but we have tents, sleeping bags, etc for now.

Entertainment- (1) Electronic/card/board games. (2) A ton of music/books/movies/cartoons stored on a hard drive. (3)MacBook with solar panel recharger.

Water filtration- (1) Berkey water filter with 2 black berkey ceramic filters + pf2 x 2 filters. Filters 3 gallons per hour. (2) Sand filter. (3) Boiling water or plastic bottle in the sun sterilizing.

Cooking- (1) Indoor stove & microwave. (2) Outdoor propane barbeque grill x 2. (3) Dutch ovens to cook on charcoal/wood fires.

What to remember from this lesson: think about what could happen and prepare for it. Then have at least three backups in case something fails. If your electricity fails (and you have an electric stove) , cook outdoor on your barbeque grill. If you run out of propane, cook over coals or embers with your dutch ovens.

Lesson #4: Communication is king.

While SurvivalBlog was only able to communicate the attack with a few sentences on a blank white html page, word was still traveling at the speed of type across the globe.  As soon as I noticed the attack, I posted a quick blog post to let folks in my circle know what was going on and how to help. JWR had asked folks not to keep refreshing the homepage as it adds to the chaos during a DoS attack. I explained the request and was picked up by Google within the hour. As the internet lit up with Google searches such as “survival blog attack” and “survival blog down”, folks were pointed to my post and quickly learned of the attack in progress.

Aside from spreading the word via blogs, RSS feeds, news sites and other static/dynamic portals, JWR still had the option of using email, cell, land line, MURS, and ham radio. I wouldn’t be surprised if he even had some carrier pigeons stashed away. More likely a hawk ;-)

What to remember from this lesson: secure several lines of communications because “If you don’t have Com, you don’t have jaaack.”(4) -Jeff Trasel, from "Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse"

Lesson #5: Consider your trigger points.

Consider establishing trigger points that put you into action.  This thought came to me as I traced back where visitors were coming from to view my SurvivalBlog attack post.  Using a free stat counter, I traced a visitor to a survival forum where a long conversation was underway regarding the possible causes of the disappearance of SurvivalBlog.

As I read through the posts, I came to one that stated (I’m paraphrasing from memory) “I always figured when SurvivalBlog was taken down by the government, it was time to Bug Out.”  Now, this may be rational, to a certain degree, but nobody had established that SurvivalBlog was taken out by the government.  Perhaps this person was simply saying IF the government took down SB, THEN it would be a good time to consider moving to the Redoubt. Regardless, it made me start to consider my trigger points.

Would it take a mushroom cloud to motivate me to bug out or are there more sublime triggers? Joel M. Skousen, author of Strategic Relocation--North American Guide to Safe Places , said in a recent youtube interview that he believes the next major trigger points will be if 1) North Korea nukes South Korea, and/or 2) Russia begins pulling troops home to protect the motherland and he believes these triggers could lead to America getting nuked.(5)  Once you set trigger points, consider how quickly you can leave your home.  Are your BOB’s ready? Do you have food cached outside of town? Do you have multiple escape routes mapped out in case of a traffic jam? Do you have enough gas? Or are you completely ready to Bug In?

What to remember from this lesson: Don’t wait until it is too late to establish your trigger points. Pray to our Heavenly Father about them, discuss them with those important to you, and be prepared to act upon them. Heck, I’d even recommend a few practice runs!

Lesson #6: Be active in your community.

Since JWR gives so much to the survival community, I didn’t hesitate to write my post attempting to help him slow down the page reloads on the day of the DoS attack.  Patrice Lewis over at Rural Revolution wrote something as well and the survival community was clued in to the attack within hours. Service to others isn’t just Biblically mandated, it insures that we as a community survive together.

Reach out to your local community and participate in whatever way you can.  I recently went to a grand opening of our brand new local fire department.  Two of my daughters, along with other Young Women from our church, raised and donated 200 teddy bears for the firefighters to give to children when they lose their belongings in a fire. Go to the local parades, or better yet be in the local parades. Go to Town Hall meetings and get to know your local business owners and politicians.

What to remember from this lesson: no man is an island.  To quote JWR: “The underlying theme to my writings is to be part of an integrated team.  That team might be just a few families living on a cul-de-sac, or it might be a small town. By being competent and confident with firearms, your group will avoid confrontations.  Very few bad guys will mess with someone with a capability to immediately drop them at up to 400 yards.  And if you don't have the willingness to do so yourself, then team up with someone that does.  You can provide other forms of useful and valued support to a group or small community effort. (Agriculture, advanced first aid, mechanics, et cetera.)  Not everyone has to be a warrior.”(6)

Lesson #7: Build your library.

Survivalblog offers an incredible wealth of knowledge for free.  It is easily accessible and therefore easy to get in a habit of visiting daily to absorb knowledge and then walk away. With the DoS attack, now we know SurvivalBlog may not always be so convenient to access.  However, with the purchase of an Archive CD, everyone can have an archive of the entire web site (up to 2011) to view at any time on their personal device.

Contained within this archive will be all the posts where folks have recommended other survival or preparedness minded texts such as the terrific SurvivalBlog post by Greg Ellifritz titled: The Best Free Medical References for Preppers which lists nine online texts and 12 hard copy books.  Use the Search feature on SurvivalBlog to find many other recommended archives, texts, guides and manuals.

What to remember from this lesson: whether you store your library in digital format or print it out, don’t wait until the information starts to disappear before you start to grab it all.  With one-terabyte hard drives now at the $99 mark, you can easily store volumes of information.

Lesson #8: Don’t forget there IS evil in the world.

It is easy to get caught up in the daily routines: going to work, taking kids to school, doing chores, helping with homework, church, sports, and hobbies.  You have to remember not to let your guard down because evil does not rest. Keep your skills and gear up-to-date. Teach those you love the same.  Sure, not everything is avoidable but...we can fight it.  As Ted Nugent said in January 2011, “Be prepared for evil. Rather than trying to fathom it, just be ready to stop it.”(7)

What to remember from this lesson: Don’t let your guard down...there is too much at stake.

Lesson #9: There will always be doubters.

As simple and straightforward as our posts on the DoS attack were, there were still doubters on survival forums questioning whether or not SurvivalBlog was down simply to increase the sales of archive cds.  Seriously?!?  There will always be doubters, or “scoffers” as the Bible calls them.  "Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation." For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water" (2 Peter 3:3-6).

Doubters will tell you it is pointless to prepare.  They will distract you from your mission and perhaps even impede you.  How do you deal with a doubter in your life?  "Cast out the scoffer, and contention will leave; yes, strife and reproach will cease" (Proverbs 22:10). Show them the door and perhaps even let it tap their behind on the way out.  Might make you feel better. It would me.  I’m just sayin’...

What to remember from this lesson: doubters do not care about solving a problem or learning, they feed on promoting doubt.  Walk away and leave them hungry.

Lesson #10: Do what you can, leave the rest to Him.

It was around 2130 (MST) when I received a reply from Avalanche Lily regarding the ongoing DoS attack. She casually mentioned that she was reading my e-mail to JWR as he was heading off to bed. He wasn’t staying up, around the clock, fretting what to do about his very popular web site.  No doubt the e-mails were beginning to pour into his in box.  His expertise told him to get some rest.  He knew the problem would still be waiting for him in the morning.

What to remember from this lesson: Do what you can, when you can but always know that through Him all things are possible.

In summation, these are some of the lessons I gleaned from the cause and effect of SurvivalBlog being down.  I didn’t intend on it to end so “churchy” but I won’t apologize for it either.   If this post helps one person out there then I will consider my contribution to SurvivalBlog a success.  Thank you to the Rawles family and all that you do for this community.  And thank you to the advertisers as well.

Works Cited:

1. Update on the Recent Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attack on SurvivalBlog, May 29, 2012.

2. Sun Tzu - The Art of War translated by Lionel Giles, available for free download here (60 kb text only version).

3. Two is One, One is None...Be Redundant; The Orange Jeep Dad blog, Feb. 22, 2011.

4. "Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse" by James W. Rawles; Ulysses Press, 2009.

5. Joel Skousen: The Origins of May Day and the Commies, YouTube Video, May 1, 2012

6. Letter Re: A Non-Warrior Surviving Traumatic Times;

7. Nugent: Be prepared for evil. The Washington Times, Jan 11, 2011.


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