Attack of the ‘Bots

The Missing Day

For those of you keeping score at home, you noticed that for the first time since Added Upon launched in 2017, there was not a blog entry on a Tuesday. The story of why isn’t an excuse, and it has some fun gospel parallels.

On Monday night I logged into the administrative panel for the site. I had a topic in mind, and despite the beginnings of a head cold, figured I could knock it out quickly and still get to bed early.

Something wasn’t right, though. Instead of the familiar view, I got a warning that the site was trying to redirect itself to another URL. I’ll spare you the details, and will say only that I spent the better part of the night and some of the early morning talking with my hosting service to figure out what was wrong, and how to fix it.

Attack of the Bots

There are a lot of reasons people try to attack web sites. And for as many reasons, there are that many methods to do the attacking. It’s gotten to the point where instead of actual human beings in front of a keyboard orchestrating the attacks, there are automated programs designed to scan web sites and look for weaknesses. These little monsters are simply called “‘bots.” They do no thinking of their own. Rather they constantly look for back doors and try to gain entry. As soon as they locate a weak spot, they wriggle in and set up camp.

They are so wily, they can lurk there undetected. It is imperative that the website has installed proper security precautions, and a good warning system is helpful, too. (By the way, that isn’t what happened here. That’s just an explanation about ‘bots in general.)

Security Precautions

Those little ‘bots poke and prod and look for weaknesses day in and day out. So it’s crucial to have the right security precautions in place to alleviate worry. The ultimate goal is to allow the website go about its life as a website without worrying about getting attacked.

Just having the right precautions in place isn’t always enough, though. Because ‘bots always evolve and are programmed to adapt, the website administrator needs to pay attention to all of her tools and make sure they all stay up to date. It is possible to stay ahead of the ‘bots, but it takes work and effort.

Our Own Attack ‘Bots

We are not unlike websites. We are under attack every day. “Satan is irrevocably committed to countering and overcoming the influence of the Spirit of Christ upon men. He is the representative, promoter, and advocate of that ‘opposition in all things’ referred to by Lehi in his instructions to his son Jacob. (See  2 Ne. 2:11, 14–18.)” And just like the ‘bots, “Satan’s methods are various, devious, and countless.” (See Marion G. Romney, April 1971 General Conference, “Satan, the Great Deceiver.“)

There is a battle being waged each day. It is very real. At stake is the greatest prize of all: our souls – the domains that make us who we are.

“The stakes are extremely high. The prizes are the very souls of the sons and daughters of God, their eternal salvation. And these souls will be won or lost on the basis of virtue and cleanliness, on the basis of charity and service, and on the basis of faith and hope.” (Robert C. Oaks, October 2005 General Conference, “Who’s on the Lord’s side, Who?“)

Satan’s Tools

And just as ‘bots are programmed to look for weaknesses and attack web site domains at unprotected spots, that’s where Satan tries to get us – our weak and unprotected spots. He doesn’t try to attack us where our security forces are strong; no, he tries to attack us in the unprotected spots, the ones we may not even be aware that exist. He is constantly “reprogramming” his forces to adjust and adapt to the security tools we have in place, and looks for weak spots in between.

“… by every possible means he (Satan) seeks to darken the minds of men and then offers them falsehood and deception in the guise of truth. Satan is a skillful imitator, and as genuine gospel truth is given the world in ever-increasing abundance, so he spreads the counterfeit coin of false doctrine. … [As] ‘the father of lies’ he has … become, through the ages of practice in his nefarious work,” such an adept “that were it possible he would deceive the very elect.” (Joseph F. Smith in Daniel H. Ludlow, Latter-day Prophets Speak [Bookcraft, 1948], pp. 20–21.)

Personal Security Protocols

In Luke 22:31, Jesus warns Peter that Satan “hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat…” Then in verse 32, Jesus gives some comfort and counsel, “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”

Isn’t it great to know that when we actively do our best to make righteous decisions and declare ourselves on the side of the Lord, that He in turn prays for us? Personally, I think that’s pretty awesome. You can’t really get a better security certificate than the Son of God.

We can also gain great strength from surrounding ourselves with other like-minded people – those who also seek the light – that can help warn us of dangers we may not see for ourselves. Together, we can edify and elevate each other, and watch each others’ backs to guard against unseen attackers.

Surviving the Attack

Yes, the battle for our souls is a real one, but it can be won. It takes work and effort on our part, and constance vigilance. Just as a good website administrator will always check to make sure security tools are updated and operational, so we need to do constant check-ins with Heaven to make sure we are on the right path. “For they that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived—verily I say unto you, they…shall abide the day.” (D&C 45:57.)

Laura will be the first to tell you she’s not perfect. That’s why she loves the restored gospel, and loves the atonement.

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About the Author:

Laura will be the first to tell you she’s not perfect. That’s why she loves the restored gospel, and loves the atonement.