Net Thug Shuts Down Largest Free Security Site
Wed Jun 30 16:36:10 MDT 1999

Earlier today, the PacketStorm Security site was abruptly shut down
with no warning. PacketStorm (
was one of the largest and most respected sites catering to security
professionals worldwide. Boasting an average of 400,000 hits a day,
pushing out roughly 10 gigs of traffic, the site was a valuable resource 
to an estimated 10,000 security professionals world wide.

The security resource did not suffer at the hands of hackers or 
network intruders. Instead, a new kind of malicious criminal found 
success through a fear that haunts more and more Americans today.
A single piece of email from John Vranesevich (founder of AntiOnline)
to the educational institution hosting Packetstorm threatened a lawsuit if 
the site was not shut down. Harvard said there were "numerous" complaints,
but provided no additional details.

Like most US institutions, the idea of being dragged to court for any 
reason is enough to scare them into hasty action. With that mail, 
Harvard pulled the plug. This decision was no doubt made as an easy 
alternative to spending time and resources  fighting the claims.

Email from Ken Williams, primary administrator for the site, to Attrition
staff indicated that not only did Harvard shut down the site, they denied 
him access to the machine and all information stored on it. The correspondance
noted the likelihood that all information on the machine, and all
backups would be destroyed in order to avoid the AntiOnline lawsuit.
"All of the content and the backups made are either destroyed, being
destroyed now, or will be before I can do anything to prevent it." said
PacketStorm founder Ken Williams.

Williams went on to say that he does not fear any fraudulent lawsuit
Vranesevich could attempt to level at him. The information contained
on the site regarding Vranesevich was not in violation of any US law
that he was aware of, and had been there for over a year. Along with
the security site, months of William's own school work was lost. 
"I have just lost seven weeks of [class] work and data that cannot be 
replaced in 4 weeks." Williams said, referring to deadlines on the
school work.

	"What bothers me the most is that all 
         of the countless hours I put into
         that web site and the archives, thousands 
         of hours, are gone now, for good."
		- Ken Williams, PacketStorm founder

These vague and unfounded legal threats only serve to hurt the security
community. AntiOnline's mission statement claims they exist "to educate
the public on computer security related issues." Apparently, this
mission statement forgot to include such things like "educate the public
through OUR site only" and "as long as we profit from it".

JP has since offered this news: