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Hacker Takes Over Anime Database for Obsessive Show Promotion

  • Culture.org
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  • May 18, 2023
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  • 3 minute read
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Hacker Takes Over Anime Database for Obsessive Show Promotion
Key Takeaways
  • MyAnimeList, a popular anime database and social media platform, was targeted by a hacker who replaced the entire anime database with data for the late '90s psychological horror anime "Serial Experiments Lain."
  • The hacker also manipulated user scores, ensuring that "Serial Experiments Lain" could only be rated as "very good," "great," or "masterpiece," causing disruptions to the platform and preventing users from accessing their accounts or updating their progress on other anime series.
  • "Serial Experiments Lain" is a well-known anime that explores the boundaries between the physical and virtual worlds and the impact of the internet on individuals. The hacker's actions inadvertently sparked renewed interest in the show.
  • MyAnimeList worked to restore the site and address vulnerabilities, assuring users that their personal information was not compromised. However, significant downtime occurred during the maintenance period, affecting platform functionality.
  • The response from the MyAnimeList community to the cyber attack has been largely positive, with users finding humor in the incident and viewing it as a tribute to "Serial Experiments Lain." The incident highlights the vulnerabilities of online platforms while generating attention and discussion around anime.

 

MyAnimeList, a widely-used anime database and social media platform, recently fell victim to a cyber attack that forced the website into emergency maintenance.

This unexpected interruption to service was the result of a hacker overwriting the website’s anime database with their own data, making the late ’90s psychological horror anime, “Serial Experiments Lain,” the only show visible on the platform.

The hacker didn’t stop at altering the database, they also manipulated user scores, ensuring that “Serial Experiments Lain” could only be rated as either “very good,” “great,” or “masterpiece” — the highest possible ratings on the site.

This unexpected attack caused a significant disruption to the service, with users unable to access their accounts or update their progress on other anime series.

Serial Experiments Lain: A Brief Overview

The irony of the choice of anime wasn’t lost on the platform’s users. “Serial Experiments Lain” is a series that follows the story of Lain Iwakura, a reclusive junior high schooler who is drawn into the virtual world after receiving an enigmatic email from a deceased classmate.

The show is well-known for its philosophical exploration of the blurred lines between the physical and virtual worlds, and its portrayal of how the internet can both isolate and connect individuals.

The anime was well-received during its run, winning the Japan Media Arts Festival’s Excellence Prize award in 1998 for its daring exploration of contemporary life and its profound philosophical questions.

Even today, it’s seen as ahead of its time, and the hacker’s actions have inadvertently sparked renewed interest in the show.

The irony of the choice of anime wasn’t lost on the platform’s users. “Serial Experiments Lain” is a series that follows the story of Lain Iwakura, a reclusive junior high schooler who is drawn into the virtual world after receiving an enigmatic email from a deceased classmate.

Emergency Maintenance and User Concerns

In the aftermath of the cyber attack, the MyAnimeList team has been working diligently to restore the site and ensure that all vulnerabilities have been addressed.

They reassured users that their personal information has not been compromised, and that they have the capability to restore the altered anime database titles and user scores.

However, the platform experienced significant downtime during the maintenance period. The website’s official Twitter account alerted users that the site was expected to resume service approximately 22 hours after the initial announcement.

In the meantime, users could still access their anime watchlists through the platform’s mobile app, although certain features, such as discussion forums and progress updates, were temporarily unavailable.

Community Response to the Attack

Interestingly, the response from the MyAnimeList community to the cyber attack has been largely positive.

Many users on social media platforms such as Twitter and Reddit have taken a humorous approach to the incident, viewing it as a fitting tribute to “Serial Experiments Lain” given the anime’s focus on the virtual world.

While the hacking incident caused significant inconvenience for the platform and its users, it has also managed to generate newfound attention for “Serial Experiments Lain.”

The incident serves as a stark reminder of the potential vulnerabilities of online platforms, even as it showcases the unique ways in which the internet can drive interest and discussion around shared interests like anime.

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