When I first heard the term “Griefing” in Second Life I wasn’t sure what it was referring to. For those who aren’t familiar with the term, it refers to attacks launched against sims or people. In the past, these attacks could be considered pranks but griefing technology has advanced instead of declined. In fact, as of last night, you could buy “Sim Crashers” on SL Marketplace.
Vicious Attacks on Junkyard Blues
If you are a fan of blues music, you probably know about Junkyard Blues and if you’ve been there in the past month you may have been caught in one of many griefing attacks. Following is part of an notecard that was sent to Junkyard Blues members to explain the attacks and the measure they’ve implemented to reduce the attacks. I believe you’ll find it to be shocking.
“Dear Junkyard Blues Friends and Staff”
“I know this is a long letter, but a lot has happened lately. This is the story of it all. Because of a longstanding bug with notices (including attachments) this letter won’t reach everybody who might be interested in reading it, so I hope you’ll pass copies along to friends and anyone else who might like to learn about recent events at the Junkyard.”
“As most of you know we have become a members-only venue because of the relentless griefing we endured in the month of December. We were attacked by multiple griefers with blinding graphics card attacks and sim lag/crashes. In all but a few of the attacks we could not recover the Junkyard sim without Linden help, sometimes resulting in hours of waiting for business hours to begin the following day. In some instances the computers of many staff and patrons actually shut down or rebooted as a result of the attacks.”
“This was a concerted denial of service effort, worse than anything we had experienced in 6 1/2 years of operation. It was stressful to DJs, hosts, and patrons. Some patrons began staying away from the club because this was more than they had bargained for in a relaxing evening at a music club, and some Junkyard staff expressed concern about damage to their machines. At one point we were told that if we paid money to the griefers they would stop attacking us. We refused.”
“Dina and I were losing sleep over this, and there was no help available anywhere. All that was available from Linden Lab was the invitation to file abuse reports, one by one, on each individual who attacked us if we could even give them a name, and then we’d see the same people we reported returning to do it again. At one point a single DJ show was sim-crashed 4 times. Other venues were having similar experiences with the very same griefers. As the days dragged on with attack after attack after attack, we finally realized that we were not going to be getting effective help from anybody, and if we were to survive we had to do something.”
“Except for just giving up there was no other remotely viable option, so we went with making the Junkyard a members-only club. We weren’t sure how people would react or if it would work at all, but anything was better than being attacked almost hourly. (By the way, we were stunned to discover that you can buy sim crashers on the LL Marketplace. I still don’t have my head wrapped around why somebody decided that it’s a good thing for Second Life, but I digress.)”
“We held out for a few more days, getting the word out to patrons in between crashes that they should get a Junkyard Blues tag so that when we close the door to non-members they’d continue sailing right through. Many did, but quite a few never got the memo. Then, finally, we closed the sim to non-members except for one spot, the drive-in movie lot, which became the default landing area for non-members. Volunteers from staff welcome them after a brief look and offer group membership tags along with an explanation of why we took this step. We’ve handed out several hundred tags there over the past several days. ”
“So far so good.” by Kiff Clutterbuck & Dina Petty
There is more to this letter but the subject of this post is the griefing attack itself.
What Is Linden Lab Doing?
I know Linden Lab has dedicated employees and my assumption is that there is a team working this problem, trying to prevent the type of attacks unleashed on the Junkyard, and there are obvious questions raised. However, I experienced a “blinding graphics card attack” for the first time over two years ago at an SL Welcome Area. So I know the potential for this type of attack has existed for a long time.
First, how is it that the Second Life support continued to treat these attacks as simply a series of incidents, requiring filing individual Abuse Reports?
Did anyone in SL Support escalate this security issue to the team responsible for protecting sim from destructive attacks?
Does anyone at Linden Lab realize they are allowing the sale of “Sim Crashers” on SL Marketplace? I can assure you these devices were for sale as of last night when a tech friend bought one for L$50. My friend intends to test the device on a private sim then report the results. More on this to come.