Hackers Attack the Netroots

Progressive bloggers regroup after hackers debilitate several sites

Hackers Attack the Netroots

The strength of the online progressive political community known as the netroots was tested last week when the firm that provides software and servers for many leading blogs was hacked and nearly destroyed.

On Jan. 6, unknown hackers attacked the servers of SoapBlox, the service provider and data management tool of choice for more than 100 high-profile blogs, including the Austin-based Burnt Orange Report. Around a quarter of the sites were wiped out, and administrators for the rest were in limbo while they tried to work out how much data was lost. BOR Editor-in-Chief Matt Glazer said, "We found out on Wednesday morning [Jan. 7], and all of a sudden we got all these frantic e-mails that sites like Michigan Lib­er­al were just not operating."

SoapBlox's role in the last general election is one that political consultants are still analyzing. Some clients, such as SwingStateProject.com, became key information resources in the Democrats' 50-state initiative. In Texas, its customers include Democrat activists Turn Texas Blue and Texans for Obama.

While the sites are often run on a shoestring budget, Democrats have praised their organizational skills, and Republicans are looking to emulate their successes. The Central Texas blogs managed to attract cash and media attention to Austin last July when they lured the Netroots Nation convention to town (see "Building the Netroots Nation," July 11, 2008).

Getting the system back online and secure will cost $17,400, but within five days of the attack, the seasoned fundraisers of the Netroots Nation were already within $500 of that target after taking donations through another online progressive resource, ActBlue. Now SoapBlox users and President Paul Preston are discussing how to reorganize the system to make it less vulnerable to future attacks and how to share the responsibility for its management and development. "We're lucky that we're not in an election season," said Glazer, "and we can fix it before it becomes a huge problem."

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More by Richard Whittaker
Austin Film Society Opens AFS Grant
Austin Film Society Opens AFS Grant
Applications being accepted now for narrative, doc features

April 12, 2021

Into the Woods, In Search of Sator
Into the Woods, In Search of Sator
The secret family history behind Jordan Graham's supernatural horror

April 10, 2021

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

SoapBlox, Burnt Orange Report, Netroots Nation Convention, Turn Texas Blue, Texans for Obama

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle