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SLUGWIRE: Fun with the ATO (was Re: [SLUG] Extracting Weather text out of a web page - Newbie Question)
On Mon, Jul 03, 2000 at 09:58:10AM +1000, Jamie Honan wrote:
> if you _have_ to 'screen scrape', I've found the following perl modules
> very useful.
> Tempting to apply for 50,000 ABN numbers (don't do this!)
DISGRUNTLED LINUX USERS "FIX" OZ GOVT, MAKE WORLD BETTER PLACE
SLUGWIRE Mon Jul 3 12:22:01 EST 2000
Exploiting a "hole" in the Australian Tax Office meta-process, users
of the Linux computer operating system today bombarded the ATO web
site with thousands of Australian Business ABN Number requests, in
what they describe as a "Denial of Non-Service" attack. SLUG elder
Hamie Jonan denied that Larry Wall appeared to him in a dream and
told him to take action, and continued by saying "I just thought it
was a funny idea at the time -- I forgot to take into account that
every stupid idea mentioned on the SLUG mailing list gets done by
someone, somewhere, within 48 hours".
"I just wanted to be able to do my taxes without pausing CivCTP,"
explained SLUG member Ranthony 'Umble, "and in order to do that I
had to import Win4Lin. The Tax Office specifies in detail what you
need for the GST, but 'cluefulness' isn't part of it".
But while the course of action was clear to the SLUGgers, some finer
points tripped them up early on. For example, they spent the first
36 hours arguing about what editor to use to write the script in.
"Sure, it was a ten-line script" explained Langus Ees, "but like
hell I'm looking at that without syntax highlighting". Fourteen
people replied instantly to this comment, variously pointing out
that vim has syntax highlighting, that jed has syntax highlighting,
and that syntax highlighting is for weenies.
Even before the script had been written, Kanand Umria had released
a debian package for it. "I had to make it a virtual package, seeing
as the code didn't exist yet," he explained, "but of course,
Debian's good for that sort of thing". The package is configured to
bombard the Tax Office every morning at 7am, and, in passing, it
makes toast and jam. "What can I say -- I like toast and jam," said
Umria, "that's why I use Debian".
Four meaningless flamewars later, the script was ready to go. After
passing through various incarnations in perl, python and php4, it
was decided to write the final version in visual basic script. "The
package management on Linux systems is pretty good," explained
Bason Jall, "and Napster is even better, but we realised the most
effective way to distribute software today is using Outlook
Express". "Outlook Express sux!" chimed in one user. "Besides,"
continued Jall, "this way everyone will just blame Bill Gates, and
he gets away with this sort of thing all the time".
Within minutes of the attack being launched an urgent message
appeared on the SLUG list from one firstname.lastname@example.org, who wrote
"</lurk> Hey, cut it out ppl. We'll let you use Linux for the GST,
but first you've gotta hack GnuCash so it _works_. If you start now
you can probably get it done by next July.
"While I'm here," he continued, "can anyone help me? I'm trying to
write a script to add 10% to every number in a file ..."
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