For those of you who don’t know me, I started Autcraft, a Minecraft server just for children (and adults) with autism where they can play the game safely, free from the bullying that they found on other servers. Up until April 6th, 2016, I had done a pretty good job of that. But first, let’s go back to 2013.
In June 2013, I started the server and told a few hundred people… 2 days later, I had 750 emails in my inbox. Word had spread like wildfire. Why? Because there were far more kids being bullied than I had realized.
About 3 weeks after launching the server, I got word from hackers and trolls that their fellow hackers and trolls were targeting the server. Three weeks. That’s all it took. And the server has been under constant attack ever since. I’ve never told anyone that until now.
In part of my job of keeping these children safe, I keep this information from them. It hurts to know that there are people in the world targeting them around the clock, around the year, simply because they exist… simply because they have autism, something they never chose for themselves, something they can’t possibly do anything about. In fact, I struggled for a little while in deciding whether or not to even write about this… but here I am.
On April 6th, 2016, two people attempted to hack into the Autcraft server and failed.
What they did succeed in doing, however, was to hijack our IP address, effectively redirecting all the traffic from our server to a server of their own.
The children that signed on to play, some as young as 6 years old, signed on to their server instead of mine. Once there, they were encased in a bedrock box from which they could not leave and were told that they were rejects from society, degenerates and that they should kill themselves.
When I asked these guys why they’d do such a thing, they responded “it’s funny.”
They told us that we’d never figure out what they had done or how to stop it and that they’d continue doing it unless we paid them $1000.
Less than an hour later, with the help of the incredible guys at EZP Hosting, we had regained control of our IP and moved the server to another location. The good news is that only a few of the children ever came into contact with these monsters. The bad news is that a few of the kids came into contact with these monsters.
Having failed that, they turned to a DDOS attack, attempting to make Autcraft unplayable for everyone because if they couldn’t tell the children to kill themselves directly, then they’d at least try to take everything away from them that they could.
This attack was quite massive in scale and was maintained for almost two weeks straight. Luckily, again, we were able to outsmart them and find ways to get around their attacks and the children played on, completely unaware that anything was even happening.
I wish I could say that these were the only people who’d do such a thing but they’re not… not by a long shot.
This is the reality for a child and even for an adult living with autism.
Monsters lurk in the shadows of the Internet, ashamed and afraid to show their face but all to willing to tell perfectly innocent little children that they are rejects and should kill themselves.
Now my hosting costs have gone up, having added in new anti-DDOS measures, more services, better protection. Every time these things happen, the amount of work and the amount of bills goes up, all in an effort just to play a game in safety, like everyone else takes for granted.
For the record, I got the guy’s home IP address and gave it to the police… they will do nothing.
I got the guy’s IP address and username and gave it to Mojang… they will do nothing.
We are left with no choice but to continue to hide away as many autistic children on my server as we can, where they’ll be safe… or at least, as safe as I can make it… and why?
Because the monsters are still out there and no one will do anything about it.
People still ask me why I created Autcraft. This is why.