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Author Topic: What happened to the Neumann forum?  (Read 703 times)

Offline RuudNL

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What happened to the Neumann forum?
« on: June 01, 2018, 10:58:55 am »
As the title says: what happened to the Neumann forum?
In the past it was a useful source of information but it seems I can't find the forum anymore.
Any ideas?

Offline klaus

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Re: What happened to the Neumann forum?
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2018, 01:57:19 pm »
In the summer of 2017 all Neumann forums were hacked, and flooded daily with hundreds of Chinese-character posts. Neumann has been busy introducing new products (U67, for one), and has not solved the complexity of this issue. Staff told me that revamping the site is harder than it seems.

I have no updates as to when the forums will be operational again.
Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks®
www.GermanMasterworks.com

Online David Satz

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Re: What happened to the Neumann forum?
« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2018, 03:06:39 pm »
Some 28,000 messages, containing mainly Korean characters, were posted in several bursts during mid-November, affecting three of the four forums. All the prior, human-written messages remained in place, but those became difficult to access since so many SPAM messages were queued in front of them. From all I could see, the three forums were never hacked as such, but rather were defaced by the sheer number of the mechanized postings. The fourth forum was an archive compiled internally at Neumann which was "read only" to the general public, protecting it in this case.

Soon Neumann locked all four of the forums, preventing further posts. They left the contents, including the SPAM messages, visible for several months on the old URLs. In the meantime a major update of the Neumann Web site was already underway, and when that new version was rolled out early last month, the forums were taken off line.

Back in December/January I corresponded with the folks at Neumann/Berlin about this; I'd written some custom software that compiled a list of exactly which posts were SPAM and which ones were valid. I don't have specific permission to quote their reply, but at the time they were evidently considering some new arrangement for on-line technical discussions, and in any case they emphasized that all customers are welcome to write to them directly with questions.

I haven't wanted to be a noodge, so I haven't written back for an update. Maybe someone else here has heard from them more recently. But I'm not holding my breath. The forum took up a fair amount of Martin Schneider's time sometimes, and he's one of their leading product development engineers; no matter how much he enjoys dealing with the public (in at least four languages!), that use of his time had to be justified as a rational business decision. The forums were certainly interesting for some number of us, but Neumann is (gasp) part of a for-profit corporation that is responsible to its shareholders, and its business decisions may not be 100% identical to our wishes in all cases.

--best regards

Offline klaus

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Re: What happened to the Neumann forum?
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2018, 03:50:43 pm »
Thanks for correcting my post regarding language characters, month of hack and number of forums affected.

I disagree with your notion that this was not a hack. I regard any intentional disruption of a website that results in its dysfuntion-whether through publicly accessible means or through breaking and entering- as a hack.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2018, 11:12:53 pm by klaus »
Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks®
www.GermanMasterworks.com

Online David Satz

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Re: What happened to the Neumann forum?
« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2018, 08:08:30 pm »
The word "hack" can have various shades of meaning. No doubt this was an intentional attack, but I saw no sign that the site's security was breached. It was apparently perfectly "legal," software-wise, for a malicious user to post multiple SPAM messages in rapid succession. And that appears to have been done via multiple accounts. But it didn't require any violation of technical boundaries--just boundaries of honor. That's why I wouldn't call it "hacking"--the forum software (and/or the way it was configured) allowed this incident to occur without any infiltration of the site's resources.

The forum software appears not to have restricted the number of (possibly automated) postings that it would accept within any given period of time. That is an available administrative setting in any halfway modern forum software that a Web site might use. I'm sure that this forum has similar settings, as well as some way to notify the on-duty admin if the set limit is suddenly reached, since that indicates that an attack may well be underway.

Maybe someone in Berlin was too trusting--honest people tend to expect honest behavior from others, no? The forums were the only feature through which content could appear publicly on the site without passing through any vetting on Neumann's part, and (to my knowledge) very few abuses had occurred in the 20 years before. But the entire Internet "ecosphere" has become a very hostile, hazardous environment. I believe Neumann uses a third-party service to host their Web presence, and perhaps there's some egg on the face of that service at this point.

The need to tighten up such controls--and the entirely reasonable fear that someone, somewhere will some day find another way to attack the site--is further reason for Neumann to be cautious about restarting the forums, which were the only area of Neumann's Web site vulnerable to spurious postings.

--best regards
« Last Edit: June 03, 2018, 01:34:53 am by David Satz »

Offline RuudNL

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Re: What happened to the Neumann forum?
« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2018, 03:16:28 am »
I found that the 'wayback machine' still has a backup of older postings on the forum:
https://web.archive.org/web/20160322054045/http://www.neumann.com/forums/list.php?lang=en&site=neumann&bn=neumann_mictec

Offline klaus

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Re: What happened to the Neumann forum?
« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2018, 01:18:21 pm »
Super resource. Thank you!
Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks®
www.GermanMasterworks.com