Substance website back 'up' by dawn on June 15? Latest cyberattack lasted more than two days

By the early morning of June 15, 2010, a few hours before the demonstration against the special meeting of the Chicago Board of Education was scheduled to begin, was back up and running. Beginning at approximately 10:00 p.m. on the night of June 12, 2010, the site had been disrupted by a series of attacks, with several different messages being sent from Network Solutions or other points to those who tried to access the site. After two days of phone calls and dozens of documented iterations of the problems (Substance readers received at least six different explanations as to why the site was "not responding" or "not available" or, in a few cases, simply blank), the site was back at least for a short time on the morning of June 15.

Because this was the third time since the January - February disruption of SubstanceNews that we had a problem with Network Solutions, we've considered additional options beyond the bland customer service phone calls that usually only add to frustration.

The first problem came when we were assembling our "Site Statistics" for use in selling advertising in January and February 2010. Over four days during those two months, the site stats showed zero for activity at That artificially depressed the traffic date, and could have resulted in lower than possible ad rates.

The second problem came in April 2010, when the Chicago Public Schools banned from its computers. At that time, investigations showed that Network Solutions had apparently allowed another web name to "piggy back" on the substance site, thereby setting off an alarm at CPS (possible virus or hacker attack). CPS did not alert Substance to the censorship, which was brought to our attention by CPS users who found themselves unable to get to from any computers in the CPS system. After two additional days, that problem ended, with various explanations of what had happened.

On June 12, 2010, Substance had the largest number of one-day hits in history — more than 65,000 by 10:00 p.m. that night.


June 17, 2010 at 8:39 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

Surviving Internet Sabotage

Thanks to the patience of all the regular readers here at As many of you know, beginning roughly 18 hours after we published one of the biggest news stories in U.S. public education, Substance faced a series of crippling attacks here in cyberspace. At roughly 4:00 a.m. on June 12, 2010, we published, exclusively here, the first news of the complete victory of CORE and Karen Lewis for the leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union. Earlier, by 10:00 p.m. on June 11, we had published the preliminary results showing that CORE and Lewis were way ahead with the majority of votes counted.

The CORE victory, which we were proud to assist at Substance, is a direct repudiation of Arne Duncan, Barack Obama, "Race to the Top", and the lies surrounding the "Chicago Plan" of corporate "school reform."

As CORE's Karen Lewis said in her debut speech as President-Elect of the CTU, "school reform" is basically a business plan, not an education plan.

We would have been covering the follow up stories as completely as we covered the stories leading up to the June 11 CTU runoff. But suddenly, at about 10:00 p.m. on the evening of June 12, 2010, SubstanceNews effectively went "down." We have been "down" since. It is now five days since we could be certain of uninterrupted service here in cyberspace.

During those five days, we examined our own work on the site, including the coding of our site (which is done by Substance, and not contracted out). By the time we were finished, we had to conclude that Network Solutions, our Web hosting service, had failed to provide the level of professionalism and service we had been led to believe it would when we shifted, in 2008, from PAIR networks and (which you can easily find throughout this) to Network Solutions and

During this time, we asked our vast number of readers, mostly from across the USA, to report to us the specifics of the interference with access to the information we provide here at Substance. With the help, so far, or more than 100 individuals, we have a very complete record of all the ways Substance has been blocked since June 12. We now know the Who, What, When and Where -- to use the favorites of reporters.

Over the next months and years, we'll devote some energy to the "Why?"

Please continue helping us cover this huge story. As I write this, at roughly 7:30 a.m. Chicago time -- five days after the initial attacks began -- I can't be sure whether we are finally witnessing the end of what's been done to Substance, or merely another brief interruption.

Stay in touch, and thanks for your support.

June 17, 2010 at 5:13 PM

By: Sarah Loftus

Chicago Tonight

Hope you get the kinks worked out. It worked OK today.

Huberman is scheduled to be on Chicago Tonight on Thursday.

Karen Lewis was on earlier this week and was terrific.

June 17, 2010 at 7:39 PM

By: Margaret Wilson

retired teacher

I think that the problem may have been resolved at least for now. I've tried a couple of times today with no problems. Karen was great earlier this week. I think she will make a dynamic president.

June 19, 2010 at 1:26 PM

By: Kathy Jacobs

Fingers Crossed

It's been two days now of painless loading of I guess I can stand down.

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