EWT Attack

EWT Attack

My followers might be more interested in the calamity that befell me than what I wanted to say but couldn’t because of the calamity. So as a result I’m going to very briefly tell you what I wasn’t able to say the last few days, first. Calamity last.

Tuesday is a monumental yet probably insignificant presidential election in one of the most amazing, fast-growing countries in the world, Kenya. It’s causing so much angst that tourism has come to a grinding halt as safari travelers steer clear of a place that historically explodes after elections.

This “quick little remark” can’t begin to untangle this unbelievably complex contest: Two vicious tribal enemies running for parties that had previously expelled them have both served as deputy prime ministers, are both unbelievably and inexplicably wealthy, are both corrupt campaigning against corruption and have somehow turned the electorate into poor versus rich. Stay tuned. Nothing comparable worldwide.

With appropriate adjustments for the above-mentioned Kenyan election, tourism in sub-Saharan Africa isn’t improving anywhere near what it is everywhere else in the world. Something is wrong and I don’t know what it is. But I do know that it’s a red flag for those planning to visit there. Expect more companies to disappear and more financial shenanigans between vendors and consumers. Make sure when you go that you go with a company that can handle it …like EWT.

Kathleen and my American Airlines’ cancellation from Hartford two days ago isn’t unusual. One out of 6 or 7 flights in the U.S. is being inordinately delayed or canceled (up from 1 in 10 or 11 flights a month ago). No question that angry climate change weather is a factor, but it’s much more and systematic. The airlines are making fists of dough so I don’t see them suddenly worrying about us being stranded.

As we sat waiting to board one flight, the American clerk was offering $1250 per person who gave up an overbooked seat to Austin. We decided we wouldn’t take less than $2500 if it happened to our own overbooked flight, but then … we were canceled.

This ought to interest you, even if EWT doesn’t. It’s something no small business should expect, and certainly no ordinary person. Yet it happened.

Last weekend EWT was hit by a DOS attack with horrible, long-lasting effects. The most immediate is that I can no longer communicate with anyone using gmail. Here’s the story:

A “DOS” attack is a “Denial Of Service” attack. Evil webdoers send you hundreds of thousands of emails all at once. It doesn’t take a powerful DOS attack to bring down an EWT server, because it’s so small. Teeny-weeny by big company standards. So why do these nuts throw destruction all over the place?

For big companies it’s usually a ransom attack. As the company’s server crashes from the attack they’re able to sneak into the heart and soul of the company server and do all sorts of mendacious things.

Often they plant an IT bomb then threaten to pull the trigger if they aren’t paid an enormous sum of money. Literally hundreds of companies pay hundreds of millions of dollars annually as a result of these ransomware attacks. Many of them are schools and hospitals.

But would EWT pay a ransom? No, says me the CEO, we wouldn’t. So why us, then?

One IT professional helping me suggested it was just an exercise that someone just learning the trade was doing, randomly choosing EWT for target practice.

We learned about the attack Sunday when I opened my emails Sunday morning. There were 192,386 emails and counting before my email software crashed. The server then crashed, so our websites, ewtravel.com and africaanswerman.com, also went off-line.

Anyone sending us an email received a notice that we didn’t exist. Anyone trying to bring up our websites got a message that they didn’t exist.

The IT guys fixed the websites pretty quickly, but now on Friday, five days later, we’re still struggling to put all our emails back together.

In the nanoseconds between crashing the server and the automated IT response (like a flood gate that closes when the water rises), there was enough time for the hackers to use our 20 or so email addresses to send out millions of emails to other places to hack them. For a few nanoseconds EWT joined the pyramid of evil.

There are more gmail addresses in the world than any other single type. So gmail got flooded with EWT emails and Google banned us. From that moment any email that EWT sends to a gmail address disappears. Not even a message is sent to the intended gmail recipient.

So much of the rest of the week was with a consultant who works specifically with Google’s gmail to get us removed from this terrorism list. It’s expensive and lengthy. It could be months before EWT can send and receive to gmail addresses.

There’s something unfinished, unsettled and dead wrong about all of this, but I’m not quite sure what. On the one hand good for Google to protect its subscribers. On the other, think of how powerful Google is, and how much damage now they are doing to EWT. What a strange and troublesome world.