Hijack hijinks

An emerald If you’re a user of the Emerald viewer, your computer was recently hijacked (along with half-a-million or so of your fellow Emerald users) to attack a Web-site on the Internet.

The little stunt by the Emerald team consumed in excess of an estimated 2 terabytes of network bandwidth from the targeted Web-server. Depending on the hosting service and the location, that could potentially have resulted in termination by the hosting-service, and/or thousands of dollars in charges.Oh, and if you were using the Emerald viewer, the Web-site operator who was attacked has your IP address now, if that matters to you.

Multiple requests to the target Web-site were embedded in the Emerald viewer’s login screen, causing it to fetch approximately 4.3MB of data from the site, every time the login screen was displayed. Some of the data was fetched through scripts and software that required additional CPU time to process, over and above simple data-delivery, impacting on other people whose Web-site hosting was on that same server.

The Emerald team have dismissed the matter as ‘a prank’. In the USA and the UK, it’s a crime, whether or not any actual disruption occurred. It also breaches the intent of Linden Lab’s third-party viewer policy (and some may also argue, the letter of it).

Emerald’s project owner says in his resignation, that he was ‘bored’, and that he’s turning the project over to Arabella Steadham… who is reported as also resigning from the project today. The original resignation has been deleted, but is readable in the Google cache – no, wait, the resignation has been put back.

If you ask me, for this sort of behaviour, ‘bored’ isn’t a worthy excuse for anyone over the age of nine. What it is, is a debacle that shouldn’t have ever occurred, even if the perpetrator was bored, drunk and full of crack.

The Lab apparently is apparently considering what action to take about the incident. According to a Lab staffer, who probably shouldn’t have made an uncleared statement on a public mailing list, the Lab was still debating what action to take regarding the Emerald viewer’s last dubious issue when this one cropped up.

The Lab has been contacted for comment. I am expecting a response early in the coming week.

Apparently, the incident has been key in causing a number of users to look at alternatives to the Emerald viewer over the weekend.

Update: The Emerald Viewer was removed from Linden Lab’s Third Party Viewer Directory just a short time ago.

Update 2: Arabella Steadham, I am told, has now unresigned from the Emerald Viewer. Beats me what is going to happen next, exactly.

Update 3: More information here.

Update 4: Linden Lab has finally issued an official statement.



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