Correcting Matt Chancey’s WordPress “analysis”

Simply-Christian note: I want to make it completely clear that I do not in any way support or endorse any of the racist or inflammatory content of Little Geneva. This post is specifically dealing with flawed information provided by Matt Chancey and his “team members.”

“Independent investigator” Matt Chancey needs to be corrected. In his “analysis” of the alleged hack of Little Geneva he asserts the following:

Now, it’s important to note that Little Geneva is powered by WordPress, a popular blogging software package. The content of Little Geneva consists of a long blog post, with comments at the end. On WordPress sites, these posts are not stored as HTML pages to be edited, but as entries in a separate MySQL database.

Administrative access (the ability to make changes) to this database is totally different from directory access to the files on that server. Not only are these WordPress databases stored in different locations on the computer, but they are protected by different passwords. So, our “hacker” had to get access to both the file system on the server and the WordPress database in another directory. This is like someone getting access to your home computer: he may be able to add or delete your Word files, but it’s a different task altogether to be able to open up your password-protected Quicken accounts.

What Harry Seabrook is asking us to believe is that a “hacker” with hostile intent surreptitiously gained access to Little Geneva’s site, and then, once in, bypassed the easiest and quickest ways to deface the site and instead spent the time to brute-force crack the WordPress database user account and password. Even though everything he wanted to do could have been done once he had file access (he could have posted a page with his ugly message, and he could have deleted all of Little Geneva’s files), the “hacker” took this extra step. (Emphasis is mine.)

This is an inaccurate analysis. The wordpress.org website states the database settings are saved in a config file in the file directory. If a hacker did indeed gain file directory access to Little Geneva, all the hacker would have to do is open this config file, copy the pertinent database settings which contains among other things the DATABASE USERNAME and PASSWORD and would thus have all the access information needed for connecting to the database.

Now depending on the hosting provider, gaining access to the actual data in the database is a different matter. Some providers use phpMyAdmin to administer the database, which is usually on the locahost/local machine (the same server as where the website files reside) but it could be even at a separate URL than the one provided for the database hostname. Within phpMyAdmin, one could easily drop the tables or empty the data from all tables in a few clicks. It is also quite plausible that with the database information the hacker wrote a quick PHP file that connected to the database, emptied the data from the tables, and then closed the connection. This would probably not be too difficult for someone with minimal PHP experience.

Thus a hack of this nature, while improbable, is certainly far from impossible.

12 Responses to “Correcting Matt Chancey’s WordPress “analysis””

  1. Lin says:

    Thanks Brandon! Sometimes I think that Matt likes mixing up the National Enquirer type writing with lots of technical jargon thinking the reader will buy it because it sounds so ‘researched’. but there is always someone who can see through it. Thank God.

    The depths this man is going to..to try and ruin Jennifer is appalling. One would think, with his patriarchal views, he would be more protective of women. Not this guy. But even so, his writing is too fleet street to be believed.

    And his ethics are questionable too, as we have seen in the Washington Post article.

  2. Maxwell Smart says:

    (Editor note: fixed spelling) 

    I find it a little troubling that while Mr. Chancey is busy pointing out that LittleGeneva is clearing any information about them from Google’s cache, it appears that VF has done the exact same thing with regards to Natasha Epstein’s runner up status on the VF 2002 Elsie Dinsmoore constest. When the Epsteins posted the link to the cached page at Google, I went and marveled at the fact that VF has done such a thing — the page *was* in the cache. A few days latter, the page is gone from the the cache…

    How does that cache clearing work again Mr. Chancey??

  3. BGiromini says:

    “Maxwell Smart”,

    Good work. I checked, and the Google cache in currently showing Jan 6, 2007 as the date of the file, with Natasha Epstein now missing as a runner-up. But, I was still able to retrieve a pdf copy from the internet. I will post a link tonight. It does seem however that Vision Forum is not being completely truthful by omitting one of the runner-ups. So when Doug and Bealle Phillips congratulate the winners and runner-ups does that mean they are now revoking Natasha Epstein’s congratulation?

  4. Joe Friday says:

    When all these accusations against Doug Phillips started coming out I didn’t want to believe it. You want to know what made me start to believe it? Matt Chancey! I know for a fact that Chancey and Phillips are close personal friends. For Chancey to put up that foolish Mrs. Binoculars site and call it an “independent investigation” is just laughable. But it’s not just laughable when Doug Phillips/Vision Forum posts links to Mrs. Binoculars and he also calls it an “independent investigation.” That’s just a lie, a really big lie.

    Chancey piles speculation on top of conjecture on top of trickery and calls it “proof.” The first time I saw it I thought it must be some kind of parody site. But the guy seems to actually take himself real seriously! Or at least he expects us all to take it seriously.

    Brandon this is all very helpful. Thanks for explaining something that most of the rest of us are ignorant about. Chancey can throw out his technical lingo and it’s hard for a guy like me to know if he’s got his facts straight or not. Notice I didn’t say “if he’s telling the truth or not” because as far as I’m concerned the man is just a political hatchet man.

    I’ve heard that Matt Chancey probably doesn’t know very much technically. Some other members of his “team” must have wrote a lot of that techno stuff. The thing that really struck me about it all is he’s got a “team” of guys who are probably very competent technically. They know a lot about how to hack computers. Why would someone know so much about hacking computers if they weren’t computer hackers themselves? With all that knowledge couldn’t they have been the ones to hack Seabrook’s site? Couldn’t they have hacked his site in a way to cover their own tracks? Wouldn’t one of the best ways to cover their tracks be to make it look like Seabrook did it himself?

    They could get a lot of mileage out of a story like that, that is if anyone believed them. I for one don’t buy it, and with what you’ve pointed out here Brandon I’m even less likely to buy Chancey’s hacking story. Why would anyone believe anything a guy like that says after the kind of crazy story that he put out about Jen Epsteins being “Mrs. Binoculars”? Even though he now looks like a complete fool he still believes his own story!

    It’s obvious that Chancey is malicious enough to pay someone to hack Seabrook’s site since he’s trying to also get Seabrook fired. Regardless of what we think about Seabrook’s racism (and I sure don’t like it), Chancey must be one really evil man to try and get someone fired. Seabrook has a wife and kids to provide for. Why would a “family man” like Matt Chancey be so malicious that he’d want to see another family suffer financial hardship? Is that Christian?

    Doug Phillips should be ashamed to keep company with hatchet men like Matt Chancey. If it were just one Matt Chancey I might not be so worried now about Doug Phillips. But there’s also that Still Fed Up site, run by Doug Phillips’ “former interns.” From what I’ve been told “former intern” is Vision Forum code language for “current Vision Forum employee.” I guess we’re supposed to believe that the Still Fed Up boys are as “independent” as Matt Chancey is? And just what kind of training is it that Doug Phillips gives his “interns”?

    You can tell a lot about a man by the friends he has, or as my father often said, “A man is known by the company he keeps.”

  5. DaveS says:

    Brandon, you are 100% correct in your research. As someone who works with SQL databases every day, I commend you on your clear explanation. However, you should also point out to your readers that the chances that Harry Seabrook, an IT professional who runs his own internet hosting comany, would make such a sophmoric mistake are extremely slim. You admit that it is improbable, but the odds are stacked heavily in the favor of Matt Chancey’s analysis, even if his technical write-up was less exact.

  6. BGiromini says:

    “Joe Friday”,

    Thanks for the complement. If you think Matt’s previous work was “piles of speculation on top of conjecture” wait till you read his latest installment. What happened to the “hundreds of documents” that he had? Why doesn’t he post them online for all the world to see, so we can weigh the “evidence”?

    I wouldn’t be so quick the accuse the “team members” of hacking the site. I would like to think that a professing Christian would not have that specific skill in his arsenal. I do however, believe that the hack of ministrywatchman.com was professional, meaning someone hired a hacker to do the dirty work. Are you starting to see the extremes that one will go to shutdown any opposition?

    DaveS,

    I didn’t know Harry had his own hosting company, I thought he just had a web design business. May I ask what was Seabrook’s sophomoric mistake? Technically anyone can access the file directory of any site, as long as they have the right user name and password. Now, did he use strong passwords? I would sure hope so if he knows anything about web hosting.

    Of course, with all the Christian blogs being hacked, one must wonder if something else is going on. While I am not totally convinced of Little Geneva’s hack and believe it doesn’t fit the MO of other hacked sites, however ministrywatchman.com was taken down. Now, who would want ministrywatchman.com to go away?

  7. Justice Prima says:

    Brandon, you wll want to read footnote 49 in Matt’s latest screed. Did you know that you are a key lesser known player in this vast conspiracy?

    I thought you might not realize it.

  8. BGiromini says:

    Justice Prima,

    Yes, I found out this morning. But, that is how vast the conspiracy is, when you had no idea you were in it to begin with! What did you think of the “analysis’?

  9. Justice Prima says:

    I thought it was sadly more of the same, same wild guesses, same speculation, same connecting the dots with a spray paint can, same unsupported theories offered as though a wild guess from Matt was as good evidence from a seasoned detective.

    It’s sad.

  10. Anne Shirley says:

    About Matt Chancey’s technical prowess: his wife knows quite a bit about computers and his brother-in-law, David Ethell, is a computer science specialist who used to run his own web hosting company. No lack of technical capability there–except maybe in the patriarch.

  11. BGiromini says:

    Anne,

    Thanks for the information. I noticed that Mrs B. is hosted at the same exact IP address 207.44.178.9 as ethell.com. So it seems that Matt Chancey had family assistance in setting up his conspiracy site. I wonder if David Ethell is part of Matt’s team?

  12. Anne Shirley says:

    BGiromini,

    I don’t know if David is a part of Matt’s team, but the Ethell family is quite close, and Matt’s own wife has considerable web expertise. I had always thought David was an ethical person, but I knew him pre-Chancey–so who knows what he’s like now?

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