08182017 Headline:

Kuat Drive’s comeback

Student-run community website back up and running

By Zach Watson

Sophomore Kenny Pham shows off his Kuat Drive pride, consulting his mind for inspiration.

Sophomore Kenny Pham shows off his Kuat Drive pride, consulting his mind for inspiration.

Kuat Drive Yards, a Reddit-like social website run by sophomore Cooper LeComp and used primarily by the RAHS class of 2019, has made a striking resurgence, following an infamous hacker takedown last year. Facilitating photoshop battles and general community chaos, fans and site administrators have returned to using the service, and the community is growing.

 

“I’ve been doing local web development for fun for years,” said LeComp. “I’ve also used, deployed, and/or worked on some of the sites for some teams in the school.”

 

LeComp, an experienced web developer and project manager,and sophomore Samuel Satterlee, has attracted a wide audience to the site.

 

“We wanted to make a website,” said Satterlee. “It started more as a joke but developed into a real website.”

 

Satterlee looks back upon the tumultuous beginning of the site, evolving from a primitive and extremely limited forum, to the center of Sophmoria that it has become. Satterlee said the original concept was hatched during their Freshman heat shield project.

 

“My [science] group decided to name our project team the “Kuat Drive Yards” after a company from the Star Wars universe,” Satterlee said. “Soon after we joked about making a google site for it, which we did, then with the help of Cooper we made a real website.”

 

Kuat Drive Yards, or simply “Kuat” as many have taken to calling it, was officially launched in December of 2015, attracting attention and acting as a gathering point for the class of 2019 to bond over shared jokes, events of the week, or whatever else was on their minds.

 

The initially fun and simple endeavor quickly took a turn to the bizarre, when after about a month after Kuat’s creation, the site came under attack by hackers from a Russian IP address.

 

Once the site had been infiltrated, the hackers attempted to place misleading links on site pages, and redirect unknowing users towards less savory corners of the web, including some material too inappropriate to even mention in this publication. This form of hacking is common to amateur websites, and often is executed by paid professionals, making revenue for the given elicit site.

 

“When the Russians came, we knew we had a fight coming,” said Satterlee. “They were determined, very determined.”

 

DDoS is an abbreviation for Distributed Denial of Service. Put simply, a DDoS attack overloads the servers using multiple slave systems, temporarily or indefinitely making the given site inaccessible to the intended users. This is exactly the strategy the Russians used.

 

“It was brutal,” said Satterlee. “They were relentless, but we got them. We got them, alright.”

 

After just over a month of battling the Russians with patience, careful network tracking and improved security measures, the Kuat team emerged triumphant, the DDoS-ers defeated and set after new targets. Unknowing of what the hackers wanted from the ordeal, the team set up further security to prevent future attacks.

 

When the site isn’t down due to Russian hackers, Kenny Pham, sophomore Class Senator, uses the website regularly, not only as a forum of community, but as a primary medium of his own personal expression. He has been a member for over a year, since the site’s inception.

 

“I got involved with Kuat Drive around December 10th, 2015.” Pham said. “He [Satterlee] came up to me and said ‘Hey, you wanna see Kuat Drive?’”

 

Pham did end up joining Kuat Drive Yards, having been approached and encouraged by Satterlee to add his own twist to the website. He writes based on personal experience and anything that inspires him.

 

“I have to put that emotion into words,” says Pham. “If you learn something in life, why not share it?” It’s this very attitude that’s led him to compose several pieces of his thoughts, three of which can currently be found onsite.
The legacy of Kuat Drive Yards is now a thriving venue for building and sharing community at in RAHS and in the sophomore class. With skilled developers and a small, but dedicated fanbase, Kuat Drive continues to produce strange tales, dank memes, deep thoughts, brutal battles of photoshop talent, and much more.

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