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Why no delete command?

Why no delete command?


Here’s why my blogging tools don’t have delete commands, basically until the users drag it out of me. 

In the early 1980s, I ran a computer bulletin board out of my living room in Menlo Park, CA. It was called the Living BBS or LBBS for short. I wrote and maintained it myself. It was written in UCSD Pascal and ran on an Apple II with an external 10MB hard disk.

I thought I understood security but I didn’t. Once the system got to a certain critical mass of users, someone started hacking me. They figured out how to get around the password and could delete messages that didn’t belong to them. Whoever it was, kept deleting the root of the tree, and when I’d come back there was just a welcoming message written by the hacker, and maybe one or two confused messages from users who had stumbled on the LBBS in its humbled state.

Eventually I realized the first answer was to disable the Delete command, thus making it more labor-intensive for the hacker to destroy my humble server. It worked. The asshole went away.

Then I brought the Delete command back, but made it just set a bit in the message that was being deleted. Nothing actually got reclaimed. So the hacker thought the message was gone, but all I had to do was run a script that visited all the nodes and flipped the bits back. Database restored.

Okay today is the day that gets its Delete command. I just wanted to explain why it took me so long to do it. 


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