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Forum host grapples with cyberattack

Ezboard's online bulletin boards are coming back online after an attacker deleted many postings.

Web bulletin boards hosted by Ezboard are slowly coming back online after being hit by a hacker, the company's chief said.

In what CEO Robert Labatt called "a very precise and malicious Internet attack," all of the historical postings on all of Ezboard's forums were erased late in the evening on May 30, Memorial Day in the United States. A significant amount of back-up data was also lost, he said Thursday, noting that some data will never be restored.

San Francisco-based Ezboard's hosted service lets users add a discussion forum to their Web site. The company started operations in 1999. Since then, more than 2.2 million boards have been created, Labatt said. A smaller number are actually active today, he said, but declined to specify how many.

The attack has hurt not just Ezboard, but a lot of its forum users, Labatt said. "I have heard from cancer patients, historians, mothers and schoolteachers about the way that their boards were damaged and were of vital importance to them," he wrote in a posting to the company's Web site.

The hacker did not access any personal information, such as credit card numbers, of Ezboard users. The company does not keep such data on file, Labatt wrote in the Ezboard posting.

The attack may have been the work of an insider, Labatt suggested. The back-up systems are separate from Ezboard's main systems and are not accessible "without inside technical information and passwords," he wrote.

Ezboard is working with law enforcement to bring the attacker to justice. It is offering a $5,000 reward for any information that leads to the direct arrest and conviction of the attacker, Labatt said.

In response to the breach, Ezboard is conducting a security and back-up audit and will change its processes, Labatt said.