SAN JOSE, Calif. Unknown hackers attacked and temporarily shut down a popular EDA portal site, www.EDAToolsCafe.com, on Monday (Feb. 28), just hours after the site launched "e-Store," an e-commerce capability for reselling EDA software. The site remained closed Tuesday morning, as officials at Internet Business Systems, the company behind the site, scrambled to repair the damage and figure out how the hackers got in. The site was live by Tuesday afternoon.
The EDAToolsCafe site, which claims to receive 2.5 million hits per month, is an offshoot of the www.DACafe.com site sponsored by Sun Microsystems. It features news releases, a directory of EDA tools, listings of books and courses, links to newsgroups, and a myriad of links to design-related Web sites.
David Heller, president of Internet Business Systems, said the site was "hacked big time" the same day it launched e-Store. The e-Store is currently reselling schematic entry tools from Cohesion Tools, a VHDL simulator from Green Mountain, and analog simulation from Beige Bag Software. The only publicity for e-Store was a press release issued early Monday on the resale of Cohesion tools.
The user ID employed by the hacker to access the root Unix directory is "Electro." Otherwise, there is no clue to the identity of the person or persons who hacked the site. Heller said he's reported the incident to the FBI, but has not yet received a response.
"I think it was a fairly typical hack," Heller said. "They did a lot of very sophisticated things to hide what they were doing. Basically, they set up an IRC [Internet Relay Chat] server on our machine, and were about to use our machine as a base to overload the IRC network."
Heller said the hackers installed a phony version of the Unix "ps" command on the EDAToolsCafe machine. This allowed the hackers to see which processes were running, and to install fake processes that masked their activity.
"We shut down," Heller said. "We're out of business until we can solve the riddle of how they got in," Heller said Tuesday morning, before the site was back online.
Heller said he has no reason to believe the hackers are associated with the EDA industry, or that the attack had anything to do with the content of the site. "I think it was coincidental," he said, "but you never know."
Internet Business Systems planned to remove software from the server that was attacked by the hackers, and to replace the software on another server. The company also enlisted the help of "some friends who are Unix and Linux experts 15- and 17-year-old kids who are brilliant," to help plug the hole, Heller said.
EDAToolsCafe is currently preparing to roll out "e-Catalog," a comprehensive listing of EDA tools that can be customized by users and dynamically updated by vendors. Internet Business Systems' plans include not only e-commerce, but also an application service provider capability that will host EDA software on Sun servers on a pay-per-use basis.
But first, the company has to stop "Electro" and prevent further break-ins. "People just do this for fun, but in the meantime, we're out of business," Heller said.