AVSIM Destroyed By Hacker

avsim1Tom Allensworth, CEO and Publisher of AVSIM, today issued the following announcement; “We regret to inform the flight simulation community that on Tuesday, May 12, AVSIM was hacked and effectively destroyed. The method of the hack makes recovery difficult, if not impossible, to recover from. Both servers, that is the library / email and web site / forum servers were attacked. AVSIM is totally offline at this time and we expect to be so for some time to come. We are not able to predict when we will be back online, if we can come back at all. We will post more news as we are able to in the coming days and weeks….”.

0 Responses

  1. Hi,

    very sad news indeed !
    Is there any way we can help ? (such as donation or so ?)

  2. Wow,

    Just think about all the support forums at Avsim.
    The hackers didn’t just cripple Avsim, but also the small vendors that use Avsim as there way of supporting users.

    I’m at loss as to why someone would do such a thing, and it really makes me angry…

  3. I cannae believe this! The downloads search seemed to be working yesterday but I was unable to download ANYTHING!

  4. Sad news, damned hacker. Is still there any avsim related site where should they post the news?

  5. I thought these guys had backups upon backups. Many developers freeware/payware use Avsim’s file servers for their files not to mention developers like PMDG user their forums exclusively for support. Tom has made enemies with more than a few people in this community and I have always thought developers were a little short sighted rallying around this site as if there’s no other FS site on the net. has suffered in viewership as well as Simflight because of so many rallying around Avsim. Me and a few others offered very lively discussions on that site until FSX conversations caused many of us to get removed because of our views and/or when the right situation came around that made it convenient to do so. When we all were there our lively discussions brought many over to Avsim at the expense of other outstanding community forums. Now it looks like either someone got pissed or this was a random act (which is unlikely as Avsim is far down on the radar of influence in this world unless you’re a PiratesBay/ staffer). Developers like PMDG need their own forum or need to start recognizing other FS venues; HIFI Simulation (Activesky fame) is another one… We have other options out here with Simflight and to name a few. I’m saddened knowing the many priceless files and utilities that could potentially be lost because of this senseless act. ‘World of AI’ traffic files come to mind because like I said freeware developers were short sighted in many cases as to put their files on only one FS related site. I can’t begin to state enough the many files and/or work that could potentially be lost. Avsim shaped up to be our backbone in this community for file sharing. It’s bad enough what Microsoft pulled by shutting down Aces now this community could potentially be severely hurt by something yet again. Like AIG we should never throw all their eggs into one basket. To all those who exclusively used Avsim and shunned other FS related sites take note. Sites like Simflight, FSNordic, and paved the way for years and should have never gotten snubbed by any of us. When something like this happens we should have been able to find everything we needed on other FS sites. In far too many instances that’s not the case. Countless repaints, AI Traffic, and freeware scenery could be gone forever. We need to embrace all our FS sites and acknowledge the great people behind them. I hate what happened at Avsim but just the same I’ve hated some of the actions of that site on well meaning people, actions I’ve never seen committed by other host of FS related sites. Francois is a great guy as well as Nels Anderson and Lou Betti of We need to leave ourselves options in these perilous times and remember all of us are susceptible to getting hit by hackers. I’m glade to see sites like PiratesBay held accountable and hopefully whoever did this is found. A lesson needs to be learned here. For all our sakes in this community may Avsim rise again and retain most if not all the priceless files it once had, from there a proper backup needs to be maintained so never again will the threat of all this lost data created by many over the years throughout FS’s long history is never compromised, and last but not least we all need to utilize ‘ALL’ of our FS related sites/resources/forums and never again rally around one site exclusively. I hope whoever did this is found as this hit’s the community just as hard as Microsoft hit us with Aces’s demise (it’s diffidently a one-two punch in the stomach)…

  6. As Dillon mentioned – where’s the backups? ANY site that wishes their site to remain available MUST have backups!

    Always prepare for the worst, because if you don’t, this is what happens.

    I’m sad to see this has happened, but no backups? …

  7. As Dillon has mentioned.
    We need Avsim for all our sakes in this community.

    Let me ask the same as Francois – Is there any way we can help ? (such as donations or so ?)

  8. Ever since they changed the website it has been problems all the time, such as slow file library and extremely slow forum access.

    So,..if they will come back, a change back to the older website platform would not be a bad idea.

  9. OMG! It’s the “…. if we can come back at all.”-part that really worries me! I consider Avsim, together with Simflight and, to be the core of our community. (no offense to all other FS-related websites, just expressing my own feelings.)

  10. I cannot, for the life of me, see what possibly could be gained by the hacker(s) in destroying AVSIM. It’s not like it was some to-secret Pentagon database. I certainly hope that AVSIM management take this very serious crime up with the FBI.

  11. I’ll give a donation if we can get a secure method. Francois maybe the new simulation group can also help intervene in this.

  12. I can fully sympathise with Tom on this, as I host a web site that was recently hacked as well. In our situation no damage was done to the site, though credit card details of a number of our customers were compromised, the result of which was very damaging and personally gut wrenching.

    The nerve of these hackers just astonishes me. What possible motive could justify such malicious damage against AVSIM. Even if you had a personal vendetta against AVSIM, why would you hurt John and Jane Doe of the flightsim community in the process? Too many thoughtless a**holes in the world I guess.

    Hopefully there is some avenue of investigation that can be followed and these pricks can get what’s coming to them. I’m sure the community will be more than willing to assist with this. I really feel as a result of this hacking, the hacking I endured, and others that I have become aware of, that the penalty for such an attack should be absolutely, discouragingly harsh. The damaging effects of such an attack can be staggering. I heard of an instance where approximately 1 million credit card details were compromised. Put a $ figure on that. Additionally I also feel the avenues for investigation and cooperation between authorities internationally should be opened. WWW is global, and hackers tend to be protected behind international borders, proxies and the like.

    On a separate note given the scale and stature of AVSIM I wonder if Google could come to the party as a means of some data recovery. Searching Google there is plenty of cached content relating to AVSIM. It’s a long shot but it’s there.

    Tom, good luck and best wishes with AVSIM, keep your head high and remember you are a victim of a cowardly crime.


  13. Frank I also have to agree with ya and probably alot of others do the same within the FS community. Those are three sites checked numerous times a day from my end.

  14. what a crock of shit blaming a hacker. Admit it Tom you could not afford to pay the bills so you just pulled the plug! A lesson we should all take on board when storing things on the internet that the servers are in control. Just like any forum owner including this place. Yes I had stuff on Avsim and I also have it saved on a CD/DVD back up! A sign of the times no doubt.

  15. Take it back “awaitig moderation” means the view is controlled by someone else.

  16. Trolly, that is extremely cynical and presumptuous (and probably ignorant) of you…

  17. Well, never a dull moment in the world of Flight Simulation….

    First Aces goes down, and now Avsim. Let’s hope this is temporary.

    I’m a developer (FS2Crew), and Avsim has hosted my support forum for almost 5 years.

    There is almost 5 years’ worth of information on my support forum, and it may be gone! Yikes!

    Still, my biggest concern is Avsim itself.

    Avsim was a fairly large organization, and I don’t think Tom makes money on it… so for all this stress and aggravation, I can see it being easy for him to just say to ‘heck with it, why bother’…

    Let’s hope that’s not how it turns out or the hobby will have been dealt a pretty big blow.

  18. I would hope that Tom had the forthought to hand over the reigns to AVSIM before simply letting it fall by the wayside. Even if he is getting rather tired of it all, there are many out there willing to make it work.

    What I am more concerned about is the developers support forums.

    Regardless of whatever happens, in the end everything somehow turns out.

  19. It must be totally devastating, and I feel for him, the AVSIM crew, the third parties with important support forums on there, and the freeware fileowners who didn’t keep a back up of their files.

    I am one of the many that Tom pissed off in the forums many moons ago, and decided to vote with my feet. But I would never wish this on him. The guy who did this must be totally sick.

  20. Call this conspiracy theory or not, but my hunch from the beginning when Avsim started ads in its front page 4 weeks in a row seeking a techy to manage their server, was the beginning of the end of Avsim. I do not think they’ve found anyone, yet, to fulfill the shoes of the person or persons who ran Avsim’s system successfully over the years.
    I do not think also that it has to do with money issues and/or their capability to manage a large flightsimming institution. It simply boils down to lack of engine room technicians – the foundation of Avsim’s existence.

    I also contributed over the years freeware stuff in the library for our simming community, and never had any doubt that one day Avsim would collapse. But I guess I was, and until now, a bit naive of the inevitable happenning. Having stated that, I still have copies of some of my freeware stuff still on my trusty old computer which I am willing to port over to the next library or if anyone requests them. That includes new ones I am currently working on.


  21. This is sad news indeed. One of my daily website stops. I hope whoever/whatever is behind this can be flushed out.

  22. probably have cgi library was better…usually be hacked happens because some hole in the system…script program or server not updated…also have a backup on a different server not in same datacenter help…we were hacked too they cancelled all but we saved because of this backup…and from that date i update all script daily and avoid external script and read on some security websites about new dangers. it ‘s the only way to be safe in those times…usually i have seen….those attacks come always from russia est europa or china…we have many attacks daily..and they come from there…..and yes i have banned many ip range from those country bad for honest people from those country but good for us.

    the cancellation of avsim it’s very bad…how much it’s a disaster it will be seen on future when someone search for a file a script or a program not present in other website. personally i save also on my external disk files and all about my company…it will take months to upload all again but at least i m safe. So what i can say it’s take this as a lesson about on what change on security and start again….

  23. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am going to help with a cash donation. I loved the AVSIM website and have download hundreds of useful addons from it. My Best to you Tom.

  24. I got called cynical well I am cynical in believing it was the work of one hacker! To many people think that it there god given right to put stuff on the internet for Free and dont realise that somewhere there is a server hosting that someone has paid for.
    I have website with a Forum and I have control of that websites direction because I pay for it, I stop paying it vanishes.
    Personal circumatances change and just maybe the agrovation and burden of this website on Toms life was to much now. The ones who helped also get bored eventually and who do you trust really? Sponsorship money is tight now not just in flightsimming but anywhere. I just wonder how much it costs to host avsim each year?
    I think you and I are just going to have to accept it that a legend has passed.
    Of course not knowing Tom Personally who is to say he is still with us?

  25. Trolly,

    I don’t normally get drawn into these types of negative posts, but I’ll make an exception.

    I approach everything in life from a scientific point of view, I’ll do that here.

    Carl Sagan once said, ‘Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.’

    You’ve provided none.

    There’s also another saying that’s apropos here:

    ‘What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.’

    Therefore I (and others if they wish to) can dismiss your negative posts completely.

    What does transcend the above statements is when there is TRUST involved. The FS community has and will trust Tom’s statements until they’re PROVEN to be unfounded.


  26. well puppy now I have read Toms ramblings on his “Emergency” Forum it seems his TRUST was what got him into trouble.

    No Hacker simply someone HE LET have access to the database who had an motivation to harvest email address information.

    That my firend is so common in out ever trusting Internet world it is not exclusive to just Flight simming. Recently I know of a commercial company that unwittingly allowed access to its customer records and soon found itself slammed by the authorities for making the access so easy. The company concerned excuse was “we wanted to make it simpler for our customers”!!!

    Now it looks like TOM was to TRUSTING and allowed someone to take that information and destroy a database.

    What was that about TRUST you were saying? I dont trust anyone on the internet because theres allways someone with an agenda and you never know or realise who they are.

    More amusing is calls for the Punishment of the offender! One snag guys international laws complicate that matter and for what its worth probably come to nothing pursuing it.

  27. I have been handling backups for a number of years. The system managers or their bosses should be criminally negligent if they did not have offline backups.

    According to the article from the BBC, there were two servers, both online to the internet at the same time. The servers were backed up to each other.

    Tapes may be out of vougue, but for ‘melt down’ type disasters, offsite tapes at a secure vendor or proprietary location far away from the data centers are hard to beat. Now tapes do need to be tested, and disaster recovery tests do need to be done regularly.

    Online backups are still good for ‘oh crud, I erased a file’ restores, but nothing for disaster recovery purposes beats offsite, offline backups with tested and verified recovery procedures.

  28. @Puppy
    What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.’
    Therefore I (and others if they wish to) can dismiss your negative posts completely.

    Hmmmmm. What can be asserted without evidence….

    If only life is that simple. By that definition, since no one can scientifically prove that God exists, ergo, God doesn’t exist. Another simplier example, a person born blind will never see a rainbow, ergo, that too doesn’t exist?

  29. @Spinoza

    Your namesake and Einstein shared a common belief.

    My statement, which you quoted, doesn’t live in a vacuum and that’s why I quantified it when I said, ‘What does transcend the above statements is when there is TRUST involved.’

    You posited a rhetorical statement (in the absence of a question mark) and a question.

    The rhetorical statement, because of its sensitive nature, can’t be discussed on these forums. I’ll only mention that the quote came from Christopher Hitchens.

    Your question is easy to refute. A blind man (or one can pick a poison, or pick an event) can’t ‘see’ and won’t have any visual knowledge to rely upon with regards to the deadly effects of stepping into the street in front of an oncoming bus. However, he will intrinsically trust the advice he’s been given, insomuch that disregarding It is guaranteed to be a deadly encounter should he decide not to heed the advice. Ditto the rainbow analogy.


    You’ve misconstrued my statement. The TRUST is FOR and OF the individual, not WHO or WHAT that individual TRUSTS. You’re taking it one degree too far beyond my intentions.


  30. That is a CRIME! what a great tragedy, what lowlife could do such a thing..a bloody disgrace.

  31. Unlike the Twin Towers – Most of what was on AVSIM is distributed on folks computers Globally. “You can’t destroy the signal”: if the basic structure can be put back together then between us we can all swarm back the data..?
    I too would pay for secured access….

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