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RALEIGH – The web site for The Front Page, a biweekly newspaper which has been serving the gay and lesbian community in North Carolina since 1979, was recently shut down after an unknown hacker's attack on the site. The site was just re-launched earlier this year, in conjunction with a site called OutCarolina.com, after several years of neglect. Designer Chris Smith (metrodesign.net) and Front Page publisher Jim Baxter first met in 2001 when Smith volunteered to do web design for the North Carolina Gay Men's Health Summit (held in Chapel Hill in November 2001). He later designed and maintained a sophisticated site for the National Gay Men's Health Summit (gmhs2003.org) held in Raleigh in 2003. "Chris and I had been talking about this for years," Baxter said, "and I was very excited when it finally came together. He's done volunteer web work with Triangle Community Works, a local non- profit, and is heavily involved with the Crape Myrtle Festival, an annual fundraiser. He designed their web site – crapemyrtle.org – as well. I felt very blessed to have his help with The Front Page." On December 21, the technical support staff at the site's host emailed Smith to notify him of "a malicious hijacking attempt" which "severely compromised" both frontpagenews.com and outcarolina.com. "It appears that the attempted attack began around November 27 and with a successful installation of several hacking- related scripts on December 12. We have been working on this since December 13," they said. "We did track the log attempts from your account and an IP other than yours was used to access the servers. We have now classified this as fraudulent activity and suspended all access to this server," they said. The account remained suspended until all of the trailing abusive scripts that were installed as a result of the exploit/hacking/abuse could be removed." "This is the first time I have ever had someone deliberately attack one of my sites," said Smith. "I have been working to get the site restored with the hosting company. Because of the compromised files during this attack, both sites had to be completely erased and I can not use my back-up files to restore. Instead, I have to build both sites again from basically scratch. I've been up several nights now working on this. "The attack could have come from anywhere," Baxter said, "but neither frontpagenews nor outcarolina were widely known outside of the LGBT community. That concerns me. There wasn't anything unusual on either site. The new Front Page site included the same information as before – updated, of course. Both sites offered the usual things a community-based web site offers: free directory listings for non-profit groups and organizations, free calendar lists, free discussion boards. No reason to single us out for attack." "Interesting enough," Smith added, "they have traced the IP address of the attempted hijack of the site to the RTP area of the Triangle. "Due to the amount of traffic on these sites," the technical support staff wrote, "we strongly recommend you to purchase a Class III level enterprise security to solution to prevent this from happening in the future." "I am investing in some additional security measures to prevent this from happening again," said Smith, who has already spent a good deal of his own money on this joint venture. "Chris got both sites back up and running at an enormous expenditure of his time and energy," Baxter said. "I'm grateful beyond words."Technorati Tags: gay news, gay, lgbt, gay rights, front page news, greensboro, winston-salem, triad, raleigh, triangle, north carolina