Ministry Watchman Hacked and Highjacked

Sometime around 3:00 PM yesterday the Ministry Watchman site went down. It didn’t take me long to figure out that the site had been hacked. When I tried to log into the hosting server my password didn’t work. When I tried to reset the password that didn’t work either. I called the hosting company and had to spend a good deal of time on hold in the phone queue to get to a tech support person.

Tech support verified that the site had been hacked and all the WordPress application files had been deleted. Thankfully the hacker wasn’t able to get into the database files, although it wouldn’t surprise me if he was in the process of working on that too.

After verifying that the site had been hacked I sent emails to several other bloggers who have been covering the same story that we have (yes, I think there is probably a connection), as a warning:

About an hour ago the Ministry Watchman site went down. Here’s the only thing that now shows up:

Not Found

The requested URL / was not found on this server.

Apache/1.3.31 Server at Port 80

I’m on the phone right now with our hosting company. They verified that the site has been hacked. My password to the server no longer works. They’re trying to figure out how it happened. It’s hosted on a Linux server which they tell me is more secure than Windows servers. All of the WordPress application files have been deleted. Thankfully the database tables are still intact.

The hacker also got into the server control panel, unlocked the domain name and transferred it to a “George Gilbert”. They can’t tell me now how long ago he actually first got in. I don’t know how quickly the Whois info updates, but as soon as I get full access again I’ll be changing it back.

He used an email address of Tech support has relocked the domain name so that it can’t actually be transferred. They’re going to reset username and password so I can get back in. The hosting company maintains backups and hopefully they’ll be able to get everything back online tonight.

They’re going to try and figure out how this happened, but right now they’re just not certain. I’ll reset my server password to something a whole lot tougher to hack. I’d recommend you all do the same. Also, be sure you don’t use the same password for WordPress as you do for accessing your server.

Tech support tells me that they’re aware of some security vulnerabilities in WordPress and advised upgrading to the latest version. Considering the present climate I’d urge you all to take added precautions.

I’ll update you as I get new info. If you feel it would be beneficial to post this on your blog you have my permission. You’re also free to forward this to anyone that you think needs to see it.


It’s now almost 24 hours after I first noticed that the site had been hacked. I’ve regained control of my server account. The hosting company was able to restore the application files from a backup. However, that didn’t resolve other technical problems that were created by the hacking, so they had to spend additional time resolving those things too. I’ve had to go through my account settings and put them back the way they were. Whoever this George Gilbert is he put a lot of time and effort into trying to steal my site.

I’ve asked the hosting company to investigate this. If George Gilbert could do it once he may be do it again. Hopefully the hosting company will be getting back to me with additional recommendations on beefing up security. I also welcome input from any technically savvy webmaster types.

This obviously isn’t just the run of the mill hacker. As far as I know the typical hacker doesn’t try and also steal domain names. This is someone who’s probably a “professional” and someone who intends to steal my entire site. That would be the only logical reason why George Gilbert attempted to transfer the domain name.

Needless to say that’s a criminal act. I’m weighing my options.

I’ll leave it to others to speculate about who’s behind it.

32 Comments on “Ministry Watchman Hacked and Highjacked”

  1. Always Batya says:

    Just like the Crusades…only now it is little popes with keyboards instead of spears.

  2. IT Mngr. says:

    Be sure you talk with your hosting co. about taking additional steps to secure your domain name. They may be able to setup a separate password for your domain settings. Many of them can also “lock” a domain name to prevent it from being transferred without your first calling them and answering some security questions that only you should know.

    “This is someone who’s probably a “professional”

    Add to that “paid” professional. Most hackers just hack for kicks. A lot of kids are involved in hacking web sites. But they don’t steal domain names. You’re right about that being a crime. Even the kids know that.

    Then there are the paid professionals. Paid pros do hack sites to steal domain names for their clients. Because of the criminal liabilities stealing domain names is risky, so who ever paid for this probably paid big bucks.

    Whoever did this had a strong motive. Hmmm. Now I wonder who that could be?

  3. Cynthia Gee says:

    I haven’t been hacked, but I did recieve a nasty email Friday, from a fellow whose didn’t have the guts to sign his name. It read:

    From: Add to Address Book Add Mobile Alert
    Date: Fri, 19 Jan 2007 14:51:03 EST
    Subject: No Subject
    “Let the women be silent in the churches.”

    Or did you forget that when you chose to critique a Priest of the most high?

    Freaky. And if he is so zealous to defend the honor of the “priest” in question, you’d think he would remember to capitalize the title of the “priest’s” Boss.

  4. Corrie says:

    ROFLOL!! Good catch, Cynthia! Yes, why wouldn’t they capitalize the title of the “priest’s” Boss?

    I know that Ligon Duncon told Jen over the phone about the same thing. (It is on Jen’s original blog.)

    I don’t think they understand…..the internet is not church.

    It is obviously written by someone of lower intelligence.

  5. Marta says:

    Cynthia, Now you know the kind of attitude Jen Epstien had to deal with…in person!

  6. Cynthia Gee says:

    Oh, I know ALL about that kind of attitude. It’s called “cowardly” and “bullying” , and I’ve been dealing with bullies and their attitudes since I was in elementary school. Luckily most bullies outgrow that sort of thing by the time they are adults. Too bad they all don’t.

    But to be fair, I did some e-digging and have since found out that the person who sent this to me isn’t a part of VF at all, only a Kinist sympathizer and wannabe who doesn’t like my postings and was too dumb to cover his Internet tracks.

  7. I was recently threatened with being labeled a kinist. So now we have hacked websites, phone calls to employers, threats and McCarthyism’s. What is next?

    My recent article showing the threat

  8. Frank Vance says:

    Brandon, I guess I’m not alone on this! Just by my mere affiliation with Ministry Watchman I’m now being branded a kinist. Anyone who dares to expose Phillips is a kinist! I was warned some time ago to expect this. Phillips is known for playing the race card.

  9. Corrie says:

    Wow! I thought you could only play the “race card” if you were not guilty of possessing the same attitudes as the racists that you are accusing others of being associated with.

    On the graceindelible site, there is an article concerning Phillips praise of Dabney and Rushdooney, both men who are venerated by kinists for their racist theology.

    This whole thing is very confusing and to be throwing around these very serious accusations is very disturbing unless one has some proof. It shouldn’t be hard to prove this, either. But, so far, I have yet to come across any concrete proof that any of the above people are kinists. After reading Brandon’s post, I am even more concerned that this is getting out of control and this situation is taking on a monstrous life of its own.

    I think Brandon aptly dubbed it a form of Macarthyism.

  10. praying and thinking says:

    Frank or Ministry Watchman, what is a kinist? I really don’t know, and have not seen that word before this.

  11. Watchman says:


    No doubt about it, this thing has gotten way out of control. Doug Phillips is probably the only one who can restore some sanity, but to do that he’ll have to call off the dogs. The more they continue attacking the more Phillips opens himself up to being scrutinized according to the same standards.

  12. Cynthia Gee says:

    Well, as I just said over on IndelibleGrace,
    I think that all this name-calling is a smokescreen, an attempt to muddy the waters and keep attention fixed on the Phillips/Epstein debacle, and draw attention AWAY from the larger questions that people are beginning to ask regarding the homeschool curriculum industry in general and its ties to Dominionist Reconstructionism, “Rushdooney-ism”, and to groups such as the League of the South.

    NeoConfederates have an agenda, and
    Reconstructionism has a still larger agenda, and until now, the homeschooling industry has been the ace in the hole for both of them.

    As for the Chanceys, they themselves have connections to racist Christians, as do the Phillips and VF.

    Jennie Chancey’s site, “Women Against Feminism”, recommends and sells books by both Doug Wilson and Steve Wilkins, (named as having “essentially constructed the ruling theology of the neo-Confederate movement,” according to Mark Potok, editor of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report.”)

    Mrs. Chancey also sells books by the MacDonald family, who run the “Patriarch’s Path website. Patriarch’s Path” has articles penned by Wilkins, Wilson, Phillips, Rushdooney, et al, including THIS ONE, by Dale Dykema, which proposes limiting voting privileges to landowners:

    The MacDonalds publish the magazine, “Homeschooling Today”, one of whose featured companies (those companies for whom the Macdonalds say they are “thankful for the significant partnership we have with these businesses who consistently offer beneficial products and services to the homeschooling community” is BOB JONES UNIVERSITY!

    And, blogger Joe Friday reports on this very site that
    “Matt Chancey isn’t without his own racist connections, including right within his own family. Matt Chancey’s father in law, Ovid Need, has condemned as “unwise” interracial marriage, or what he calls “race mixing.”:

    The fact that RACISTS are willing to draw attention to their *own* racism by calling other folks racist — ie, people in glass houses who are hurling all the stones they can, without thought of damage to themelves– doesn’t make sense, until you look at it in the light of how a mother birds sometime fake a broken wing to draw a predator away from their nests — or how military units sometimes sacrifice themselves to draw fire away from their command post.

  13. You know what’s funny? Until last week I didn’t know either. I had to do a google search. Here’s what Wikipedia says about kinism:

    Kinism is a relatively new movement backed by a small group of neo-Confederate, Christian Reconstructionist, white nationalist bloggers. Critics claim it is racist and anti-democratic.

    Supporters, known as kinists, say the word kinism means “love of one’s own kind.” Kinists are primarily Reformed Christian apologists for Southern slavery and the antebellum South. They believe that God segregated the races after having dispersed mankind, following the biblical story of the Tower of Babel.

    Can you imagine the scene as my husband went into his employer’s office and handed him a copy of the threat he had received?

    Brandon, what is a kinist?
    Well, I don’t exactly know, I think it’s like a white supremacist.

    His boss, knowing the absurdity of someone calling Brandon that says:

    Brandon, tell them your asian boss does not care. If they call, I will tell them, this is business.

    Praise God Brandon is a good employee and his employer is sensible.

  14. A supporter says:

    Dear Frank:

    Sorry to see you guys are being accused of being racists by Matt Chancey. From what I have read of your work, which I appreciate, this seems far fetched.

    Given that all is at stake for MW, however, it might be helpful for you to consider offering a personal statement clarifying for those undiscerning readers that might be duped by Chancey’s allegations that you have no personal relationship with Harry Seabrook.

    I found Harry’s racial rantings over at Little Geneva deplorable, and it would just be great for you to put an end to all of the speculation regarding your purported kinist sympathies.

    Keep up the good work!

  15. praying and thinking says:

    Elizabeth, thank you for the clarification. Bob Jones and Pensacola — both giants in the home-school curriculum industry and textbooks for private schools — definitely have their agenda, and that is pursued in their published curricula and textbooks. Though they loathe reformed doctrine and ones who believe reformed doctrine, they are disposed to be allies at least temporarily with Phillips, or even Ligonier, if they perceive advantage for themselves. Completely outside of Ligonier, Vision Forum, and B.C.A., I think that many — many — others who profess faith in Christ, both reformed and not reformed, many are closing with Ligonier and Phillips, for their own reasons: not wanting their own false attitudes and practices to be exposed, fearing the disapproval or consequences from these people or others if they replied truthfully to these things, or even supporting what Ligonier and Phillips have done. Even in silence there is a fierce war being waged. Notably, there is no fear of God in them. This is a denial of Christ. You and Brandon are true examples. Hebrews 13:6 “So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”

  16. Cynthia Gee says:

    “neo-Confederate, Christian Reconstructionist, white nationalist bloggers”

    Well, that fits Steve Wilkins to a “t”, but they’rer not all Southerners.
    Here’s another kinist site, in Minnesota of all places, written by the nut that sent me the nasty email last week.
    Hold onto your lunch:

  17. interested observer says:

    Actually, it is Jennie Chancey who wrote an extensive article for her website on why women ought not to vote.

    I would also like to point out that Bob Jones University reversed their policy on interracial dating and renouced the views of the former school presidents. Just for the record…

  18. Cynthia Gee says:

    “Actually, it is Jennie Chancey who wrote an extensive article for her website on why women ought not to vote.”

    That doesn’t surprise me at all. The article I mentioned was by Dale Dykema and published on “Patriarch’s Path”, James and Stacey MacDonald’s site. I mentioned it because Jennie Chancey and the McDonalds are birds of a feather whose articles are published on each other’s sites. The fact that Mrs. Chancey wrote such an article just proves the similarity between them.

    As for Bob Jones University, I had heard that. But if a leopard should choose to change its spots, I doubt that it would happen overnight, and I still question the reputability of anyone who would link with Bob Jones University.

  19. interested observer says:


    One of the dissimilar things about Bob Jones University and the others you have mentioned is their view of women. They offer advanced degrees to women and there are highly educated women on their staff. As far as I have observed, their main emphasis is promoting a fundamentalist perspective and most fundamentalists do not agree with the patriarchial viewpoint. Remember, it was SharperIron that has written several articles to challenge Phillips!

  20. Cynthia Gee says:

    Yes, I know that.
    I didn’t say that BJU shared all of the viewpoints of the Patriarchal groups. But, BJU and the Patriarchs do share some common ground, and that shared ground is of the worst sort — BJU was founded on a bedrock of racist belief. Now, Bob Jones University claims to have recanted that belief, and indeed they may have, but on the other hand, that may just be a PR gimmick. It’s way too soon to tell one way or the other.

    The fact that Patriarchal publications link to BJU, makes me tend to doubt that they have changed much.

  21. praying and thinking says:

    I think that very few if any can have an adequate or complete view (I’m not saying this very well) of Bob Jones University without having attended there. Although their theology is radically different from Rome’s, their structure, attitudes, and practices are very similar to the Roman Catholic Church’s, and if they had the civil authority or power that Rome had for centuries (and still wants to have), no one would doubt what I am describing. The school is an empire, claiming to be part of the kingdom of God, but only using that claim to advance their own empire. So far as women at the school and the school’s views on women, I did not find the school nor its leaders misogynist. The school would be glad for any unawareness or obfuscation about them that they could cause, and any sympathy they could effect. They don’t want all the world to know what and how they truly are. I think that almost without exception, a genuine disciple of the Lord (who truly loves and follows Him as He said) who is there either is “shipped” — their word for expelled — or becomes aware of profound problems and chooses to leave. There is a powerful pull there, a pull to fear men or to pursue what seems a prospect of benefit, and there are ones who realize the problems and stay, disobediently to the Lord. The next statement may not seem credible: I have no animus against the people in Bob Jones University, I find the situation tragic, and I would rejoice if they repented and followed the Word in truth. They have enormous similarity — at least in their attitudes and practices — to the church of Rome. This comment does have a relevance to Doug Phillips and to Ligonier: Many others within the reformed community and outside the reformed community will close with Phillips for the reasons I mentioned in an earlier comment: not wanting their own false practices exposed, other fear of provoking others to their own disadvantage, or even like-minded support. Again I am reminded of Philippians 3:18,19, and Paul’s tears over them. If any of us differs, that is solely the Lord’s grace and truth alone.

  22. Frank Vance says:

    Boy, too bad you got hacked! Sorry to hear that; it would have been terrible to see a good healthy encouraging, fact-based site like this get stolen.

    🙂 – loosers.

  23. MW,

    Boy, too bad you got hacked! Sorry to hear that; it would have been terrible to see a good healthy encouraging, fact-based site like this get stolen.

    🙂 – loosers.

    I am fairly certain this is not Frank Vance but how did you guys allow this to go through?

  24. Watchman says:

    Brandon, you’re right. It should be obvious that Frank didn’t post that comment. The only reason I approved it is to provide just a small sampling of the kinds of malicious “Christians” there are who are rejoicing over our being attacked.

    Some of the emails we’re receiving are even worse. I don’t need to tell you about that Brandon. You’ve been on the receiving end of some of that yourself, and your own blog has been about as “fact-based” as it gets.

    Brandon, it doesn’t really matter what we say about Ligonier Ministries, Doug Phillips, or any other corrupt Reformed ministries, and how fact-based it is, we’re going to be attacked for it by those men, and it would seem that there is no tactic or strategy for silencing us that is beneath them.

  25. jimmy olsen says:

    I think the real “looser” is the Frank Vance wannabe that can’t spell “loser”. Hmm, someone who has an ax to grind with Ministry Watchman, who can’t spell, hmmm…wonder who that could be…

  26. Suzanne says:

    Loser? Ministry Watchman? Hardly.

    I am quite impressed with the quick recovery of this website after obvious professionals hacked in here. If the professionals were really that great, they wouldn’t have let Watchman regain such immediate control of his site again. I certainly hope whoever paid these “professionals” didn’t fork over too many big bucks for such sloppy work.

    The only real loser here is the “Christian” who slinks around hiring paid “guns” to do his dirty work for him and then they botch up the job. Yep. Loser.

  27. Watchman says:

    Susanne, thanks for the vote of confidence, but please believe me when I say it’s misplaced. Don’t be impressed with me. When it comes to internet things I’m an amateur. Had it not been for the quick and expert work of my hosting company things would have gone much worse. They deserve 100% of the credit. All I did was make the call.

    I think it’s only by the grace of God that we didn’t lose this entire site to “George Gilbert.” He’d already accomplished just about everything necessary to steal my domain name.

    Had it not been for the fact that I happened to be logged into the site while he was taking the final steps to steal it I might not have noticed until it was too late to do much of anything about. The fact that I noticed almost immediately that the server password had been changed was probably the only thing that saved the day. Had I not noticed it so quickly it could have been disastrous.

  28. praying and thinking says:

    M.W., my knowledge of this technology is not amateur but extremely weak and marginal. Could you or another comment on this inquiry? Can’t tracks be re-traced in computer crimes like this? Can’t the F.B.I. or other exceptionally sophisticated organizations track the steps back to the person who did this to your site? or at least to the person’s I.S.P. and computer? Is this not a felony crime? Is there any reason to think the same person or group will not attempt to do the same thing against you in the future?

  29. […] Meantime, the larger controversy seems to continue to be played out. A  blog called Ministry Watch which apparently followed their story was hacked this week, and accusations are flying. It’s difficult at this stage wandering over from an outsiders perspective to understand why things are so out of control. Another home school blog called Little Geneva was also hacked and has gone offline. […]

  30. george says:

    Scroll your mouse over Frank Vance’s name in this comment above on January 25th, 2007 at 9:47 am:

    Boy, too bad you got hacked! Sorry to hear that; it would have been terrible to see a good healthy encouraging, fact-based site like this get stolen.

    🙂 – loosers.

    The author uses a website of

    Such maturity!

  31. Watchman says:

    Now Cynthia Gee has been hacked, not just once but twice. This “Christian hacker” (talk about an oxymoron) didn’t take down Cynthia’s sites entirely though. No, this hacker just happened to very selectively remove three particular articles. Very interesting.

  32. No Censorship says:

    Watchman, while all the evidence seemed to point to Cynthia’s blog being hacked, it has since been revealed that it was only highly censored, a more legitimate form of hacking, of course.

    In response to rampant allegations of racism, Cynthia had written a couple articles noting verifiable facts regarding certain well-known individuals and James McDonald had written a comment in response, which I believe she shared with Ministry Watchman readers as well. In the interest of giving James’ letter more exposure, Cynthia moved his comment into a new article with a little commentary provided as well. Since Cynthia has two blogs, she posted all three articles on both her Homeschool Blogger blog and her Blogger blog.

    When those three articles mysteriously disappeared without a word last week from her Homeschool blog, and Cynthia’s account was disabled, not allowing her to even contact the HSB admin for help, Cynthia could only conclude that she had been hacked. There were some other mysterious happenings at her Blogger account at the same time, with names of certain commenters (all connected by a common factor) all being changed to “anonymous.” This last situation is still quite a mystery.

    Lynn decided to write a post about Cynthia’s blog being censored and Gena Suarez, the administrator of Homeschool Blogger wrote in and told Cynthia to check her email, which she immediately did. Nothing. Gena had said that she sent Cynthia two emails, neither of which Cynthia could find, even in her spam. She did find two other regular emails from Homeschool Blogger, but not the promised explanation, so Cynthia sent an email to the sender of the regular emails from Homeschool Blogger, offering an alternate email address.

    She soon received the promised email from Homeschool Blogger informing her that they had received a written letter of complaint regarding these three articles and that the HSB staff had performed a review of her site:

    “The review is performed by the staff of HSB and, when appropriate, by HSB’s legal counsel. After review, portions of the above-named blog have been deleted. The reasons for these modifications of the blog content are (1) violation of the Terms of Use and (2) avoidance of potential legal claims related to the blog content.”

    The Terms of Use include:

    (e) not to create, provide, upload, link, post or transmit on, to or through Website any unlawful, harassing, defamatory, libelous, abusive, offensive, inappropriate, sexually explicit, threatening or harmful Material or information, including without limitation offensive, profane, obscene, racist or sexually explicit content or language which substitutes asterisks or other alternative characters for part or all of a term which would otherwise violate the Rules or Terms of Use; (f) not to create, provide, upload, link, post or transmit any Material or information on, to or through Website which encourages or incites conduct which gives rise to actual or potential criminal or civil liability or violates applicable law. … Company and Website reserve the right to immediately delete any Website Content or Material and to terminate the access, use privileges and account of any User whose conduct fails to conform to the Terms of Use.

    Cynthia then writes back to Gena and asks for permission to tell what has happened, agreeing not to repost the articles in question on her Homeschool blog (although they are still posted on her Blogger blog). Interestingly, Cynthia sends this email from her new, alternate address she had just provided to Homeschool Blogger, but she now receives another response from Gena to her old email address (the one that received all regular correspondence from Homeschool Blogger, but mysteriously loses all emails regarding censorship). HSB admin informs Cynthia that according to their terms of use, “User hereby agrees … (g) not to knowingly … comment on deleted or banned Material, warning letters, sanctions or private communications from Company, Website or their legal counsel.” In other words, Cynthia is banned from talking about this situation.

    Cynthia also asked for a copy of the written letter of complaint against her, but she has not received that as of this writing.

    From all appearances, Cynthia seems to have been accused of libel and Homeschool Blogger’s legal counsel seems to think there is a possibility of a lawsuit. I thought it might be wise to inform them that the legal definition of the word “libel” must include reporting something that is untrue and it must be a statement which claims to be fact, and is not clearly identified as an opinion.

    Even more importantly, HSB’s legal counsel ought to understand the difference between writing about your everyday Joe Blow or writing about a public figure. Everyone named in Cynthia’s articles is clearly a public figure and as such, the burden of proof is on them to show that Cynthia both wrote something that is untrue (libel) and that she did it with malice aforethought intended to defame these public figures.

    Cynthia states that she merely reported facts and did not accuse anyone of anything, whether true or false, but noted certain associations between different groups of individuals, saying, “If Dominionists see nothing wrong with what they do and believe, why should they mind if someone tells people about it?”

    As Corrie so succinctly pointed out, “Sometimes the truth hurts.”

    So, Watchman, while this was not a case of truly being hacked (although the names being changed is still a mystery), censorship by Christians who allow public figures to tell them what other Christians can and cannot say is quite disconcerting, to say the least. I think I would find it quite stifling to have to worry about whether every post I put up met with their nebulous standards or not.

    There are many Christians today, especially leaders, who are totally unaccountable, as I’m sure you are well aware, and the blogosphere, while it should be an absolute last resort, is nonetheless a modern-day method of accountability. While Christian bloggers ought to be extremely careful in what they report or write, and while all Scriptural principles should be fully followed in each situation, Christian censorship is a shame.

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