I learn from Paleobabble that a particularly nasty bit of cyber-violence has been going on. It seems that Moslem groups in Egypt have been running attacks on the Egyptology sites edited by Kate Phizackerly and others, notably the KV64 news blog, on discoveries in the Valley of the Kings, and their new project, the Egyptological magazine. The sites have gone off-line.
On the former there is the message:
Following on from the problems at Egyptological I have taken the reluctant decision to close this blog as well for the foreseeable future. Many thanks for your support over the years.
As her words indicate, Kate was also one of the forces behind the online journal Egyptological, which was recently discontinued due to hacking efforts on the part of radicalized Islamic elements in Egypt. Apparently the KV64 blog was also incompatible with those elements. Another loss for free speech in Egypt.
Here I must disagreed with Mike. There never was free speech in Egypt, except under British rule. It was a despotism before that period, and ever since. The issue is free speech online. Free speech for us. Here in the west. Now.
A bunch of violent scumbags from the back-end of nowhere, who never have contributed in any way to the web, have successfully interfered with the scientific effort of the entire human race. And our masters, The Powers That Be, who live very well on our taxes, they say … nothing. It’s OK, apparently. So next year, there will be more.
The selfish scum who did this care nothing about Egyptology, of course. They only care about their own wishes, and whether they will get caught. They’re criminals, in other words; because that more or less defines the word “criminal” and his activity. These sorts of people are why we have policemen in real life, and why we need them. Now they are doing their evil deeds online.
It seems to me that criminal activity on the web is now threatening all of us who contribute to it. It is becoming very risky to contribute online under your own name. The criminals will try to smear you online, and if possible damage your business thereby. Cowardly employers will see the lies, and shy away. Any of us can be harmed by this kind of thing. What can we do? I would discourage anyone from posting online under their own name. But of course the malicious love to “reveal” identities that they themselves have forced people to hide.
We must all wish Kate and her team well. They went the extra mile, they contributed, they helped others. Well done, people!
UPDATE: I have just found the announcement about the attacks on Egyptological here.
Kate and Andrea are very sad to announce that Egyptological will be unavailable for the forseeable future. It has been targeted by a professional hacking group as part of an onslaught on Egypt-related web sites during the current unrest in Egypt.
Although we have been in negotiations with the hackers, which seemed to be going well, they have now announced their intention of resuming hostilities against us. They apparently see Egyptology sites such as ours as representing a form of political threat.
Until we have been able to assess the level of damage inflicted upon our backup solution, and have been able to devise a new strategy for the future security of Egyptological, our site will remain unavailable. We do not expect it to be recovered until the end of January.
Please be aware, however, that we are fully committed to restoring Egyptological to its former state, together with the latest unpublished edition of the Magazine, and we are investigating the possibility of publishing a temporary archive at an earlier date.
We recommend that anyone with similar web sites should upgrade their own security arrangements, as you may now be interpreted as representing a political or religious affiliation.
Kind regards from both of us
Andrea Byrnes and Kate Phizackerley
Sadly they were unable to recover the situation.
UPDATE: A post has appeared from Drs Byrnes and Phizackerley here. Evidently some people have been in touch to try to find out who the guilty parties are. Drs B. and P., quite naturally, do not want to get involved.
There seem to be suggestions that Andrea and I know the affiliation of those who hacked us. We don’t and by policy I haven’t speculated. Part of the reason for my reticence is that some, although not all, of the hackers have been polite to us. In particular, at no point did the hackers claim association with any religion.
We are grateful for the offers of assistance, thank you. … I am however reluctant to share any further details of what has happened with anybody to avoid the risk of a third party politicising the issue.
By policy Egyptological was apolitical and respectful of all religions. If there is to be any future, we will retain those principles. And perhaps the times when principles matter most are in the face of adversity.
Someone should be able to work out precisely who the attackers are, and remove all doubt. That would seem the first thing for the technically minded to determine.
It is, admittedly, extremely hard to think of any other group in the world likely to attack archaeological sites (in both senses of the word). But of course I am entirely willing to learn different. Who else could possibly do such a thing?