As we are all painfully aware, the PGR site has been down for the second extended time within the past few months. This email is to summarize why we are down, what steps have been taken, and where we are at in repairing and preventing future disruption of the site.
The PGR website has been under extended attack referred to as Denial of Service (DOS). A DOS attack is intended to overwhelm the site traffic or hardware by generating a huge flow of traffic to the site or by tying up the server's resources with input it can't understand or resolve, effectively paralyzing it. Many other websites have been hit with this same type of attack, and we do not believe it is directed against the PGR specifically.
The PGR site infrastructure has not been modernized effectively as we've grown. Other issues, notably the Trademark Defense, have consumed a huge portion of the PGR operating budget which comes from the official PGR Gear Store and donations. Please understand that we are not asking for any increased donations, just explaining some of the limits we are operating under.
We had already begun a project to address the site "age" regarding equipment and software. A new site location had already been "powered up" but not completely functional at the time of the first attack. As part of the response to the first attack, the site relocation of web services was expedited and new filtering servers were put into place. Only our mail system has not been completely moved at this time as we work with the major internet providers regarding our address change and "white list" as a bulk mail client.
The latest attack started on last Friday evening. By the time the situation was defined and on hand resources were tried, we were into the weekend and were not able to establish new professional consulting till Monday. We have currently provided advanced information for analysis along with further installation and modification of the security filters. We expect a detailed outside analysis shortly and are in consultation with the provider of our security filters for what we expect will be a long term solution. Funds are already approved, we just have to get the best and most effective steps to implement.
Currently, the site hardware has been almost completely upgraded. Once we get through this current crisis, we will immediately focus on completing the site migration to the new facility and are reviewing proposals for replacing and updating the site software to include the web site operating software. We are currently looking at two different paths in software to responsibly and effectively improve the site stability and maintenance, improve navigation and ease of use, and provide additional tools and support for members and local leadership, while also providing advanced security features.
We want the site to be more member friendly, focus on the information you need for the mission, and be there 24/7 for you. Once the new site is proven, we will deploy a back up site dedicated to the mission information only for reliability. The hardware for this back up site is already on hand.
I extend a personal apology for not preventing these disruptions of the PGR mission. Though we had been aware of the "age" of the site and need to expand, it had not been effectively addressed before these unexpected attacks. You can't cover for every event, but the site age was something we were already concerned about. We will do all that we can to return the site as soon as possible, continue mission notification through the facebook page, and develop other remote notifications that do not require a member to join any other site to receive mission info and updates on the PGR.
Thank you for all that you do and for the patience and strength you've shown in supporting the mission in spite of this disruption of our website.
Bill "Whirlwind" Richart
President ~ Board of Directors
Patriot Guard Riders