I’ve got mad haxor skillz. I’m a l33t hacker paid by evil organizations and shadowy conglomerates. That’s how I found Skeptical Science’s secret stash of Nazi fantasies. Or so some would have you believe. One commenter at Judith Curry’s blog said:
It may be that Anthony/WUWT did not know that WUWT’s “anonymous” contributor was probing the SkS website for vulnerabilities using professional-grade hacking techniques and/or software tools.
Given the shocking nature of my discovery, I figure people might be curious how I came about it. Was it via some l33t haxor skillz? Was it because of some professional grade hacking? Was I perhaps paid by someone to break into a secure site and extract incriminating photos?
No. It was much simpler than that.
It all began when I read a post on Skeptical Science’s website. I read the post, and I was curious. Naturally, I decided to click on a few links. That’s when I came across this link:
As you can guess by the word “redirect,” the link went to the NCDC website. It just went there via www.sksforum.org. That’s when I first learned of www.sksforum.org. I didn’t expect anything from the site, but I decided to visit it anyway. When I did I did, I saw a banner at the top that was obvious an image file. I checked the URL for the image, finding it was hosted in the directory: http://www.sksforum.org/images/. I found the Nazi imagery when I went to that URL and clicked on a subdirectory (user_uploaded).
That’s it. I got intrigued by a link I saw on an SkS post, and I followed a couple links I found from it. My l33t haxor skillz amounted to nothing more than being able to follow a few links. But that’s not where the story ends. When I went to write about how I came across the Nazi roleplaying, I found I couldn’t find the links I had originally used. Why is that? Skeptical Science deleted the post.
That’s right. SkS deleted a post they had written simply because it inadvertently included links that exposed their private forum’s location. Google has a cached verison of the post, but without that, there’d be no record of its existence. Rather than just fix the links for the post, SkS deleted it in its entirely to cover up the existence of their forum. That’s how desperate they are when it comes to PR – They’d rather delete an entire post than address a minor mistake.
Author’s Note: To be clear, I was not an “anonymous” contributor. I made no attempt to hide my identity. Anthony Watts decided not to post my name simply because, at the time, I had not told him I was okay with being identified. It was simply a courtesy.
Moreover, I am trained in network security. I know a fair amount about hacking. I don’t believe in engaging in it, and I would happily help any blogger with security issues. Upon first discovering this directory, I intended to contact John Cook to inform him of the problem.
I only “went public” with my discovery after seeing SkS’s Photoshopped images of their critics. I appreciate privacy, but I feel no obligation to hide my knowledge of inappropriate behavior
That said, if you feel I’ve engaged in professional-grade hacking, feel free to contact me about potential jobs. I’d happily take your money to browse some URLs.
Yes, Brandon’s description is true, it was all out in the open as I’m sure many WUWT readers also discovered. I simply didn’t use his name in the original essay because he hadn’t used the typical “submit story” route for WUWT, which automatically applies permission to include your name as part of the publication agreement, and given the lunacy over there at SkS, I didn’t know if he was concerned about retaliation. He brought the issue to my attention later in the day, and I amended the post to include his name.
And, in case you have not seen it, this is worth a look – Anthony