WP-ORG FD 46: Understanding. Patience. Generosity.

Our fund drive is in its fourth week (http://www.west-point.org/donate). Each of the previous three fund drive notes explained the ransomware attack from the programming side of WP-ORG, and the difficulties encountered. I saw it exclusively from the user side. The moment things stopped working, the office phone started ringing, my private messages ramped up, calls and texts to my cell phone started to flow, and even a secondary email address of mine lit up.  Our users were trying to get answers. Classes couldn’t communicate, email addresses did not work, and WP-ORG completely ceased to exist for everyone except the programmers, who smartly detected small signs of life, and put WP-ORG on life support. The patience of our users was astounding.  I expected to be the messenger everyone wanted to kill. The response was far different than my expectations. Understanding. Patience. Generosity. These were the responses I received to giving out terrible news, and very little in the way of information. For the most part, all I could offer was a “we’re doing all we can”, knowing that if I sent messages to those who were busy rebuilding, I took them away from important work that required every ounce of their attention.

Many of our class list moderators gathered up all of the email addresses they could from their own address lists, and started privately notifying their class members, which saved me a great deal of typing and talking. Many of them stayed in touch with me as the days went by, if only to ask “any new news?”, so that they could update their classmates.  Never in my life have I been so glad that every email I have sent through the years, had the office phone and my cell phone number on them. This was one effective way that our users had to contact us.  While our programmers were scrambling and spending sleepless nights recovering WP-ORG, I was, in essence, sitting at a front desk in an empty building, answering largely unanswerable questions. To make matters worse, I was scheduled for surgery a few weeks into our outage, and knowing my phone was in nearly non-stop use, when I went into surgery, I handed my cell phone to my daughter (USMA 2002), briefed her to the best of my ability, and asked her to do what she could to help answer our users. I can not thank our moderators enough for the work they did keeping their classmates updated until we could get the lists back, and for the kindness extended to this bearer of bad news.

Here are a few facts you may find interesting: Our servers are in Austin TX. The day we were attacked, twenty-three Texas towns were struck by a “coordinated” ransomware attack. The attack instigated a statewide disaster-style response that included the National Guard and a wide F.B.I. inquiry. I found through research, that a new organization will fall victim to ransomware every 14 seconds, and by 2021, that will likely change to every 11 seconds. According to a new study from Sophos, the average cost per ransomware attack to businesses last year was approximately $133,000.

WP-ORG’s recovery still has a way to go. Sadly, among a few other things, our eulogy entry tools are still down.  Old eulogies (going back some 24 years) are up and working, but we are unable to create new eulogy pages at this time. Our security has changed so much that a great deal of the programming needs to be re-written in order for that tool to work. Classes have noticed that they have received no notices of created eulogy pages for their deceased classmates from WP-ORG. I have saved over 2 months of death notices from the WPAOG and from our moderators who have sent them to us, and as soon as we have the ability, those will all be entered and ready for use. The eulogy pages are the heart and backbone of this organization and are as important to us, as they are to you.

Our bi-annual fund drive came right on the heels of our coming back from the brink of death. Our resources are stretched thin, and it could not be delayed. As you know, our budget is frugal, and designed to only take us as far as the next fund drive. We are at a low percentage of donors as compared to past years. We need you now, more than we have ever needed you. Please consider rewarding the tireless work of a small organization to recover from this attack, in order to keep WP-ORG serving you. We all got a terrible view into what it would look like if WP-ORG ceased to exist.  Please consider even a small donation to make it even better than it ever was.

As always, with heartfelt thanks to each of you,
Dian Welle
WP-ORG, Inc.

Donation page linking to all payment methods (credit card, check or PayPal):

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Fund Drive Donation Report, sorted by WP-ORG member group, etc.:

WP-ORG Budget April 19, 2019 – September 19, 2019:

WP-ORG Budgets, FD8 – FD45:

What is WP-ORG & Why Donate?:

WP-ORG Member Information Privacy Policy:

IRS Letter Confirming WP-ORG 501(c)(3) Status:

Author: Dian Welle