Avi-Labs hacked, grids down

AviWorlds welcome region. (Snapshot by Maria Korolov.)
AviWorlds welcome region. (Snapshot by Maria Korolov.)

Avi-Labs, the hosting company behind the AviWorlds grid, has been hacked, according to Josh Boam, the company’s technology manager, but grid data should be recoverable.

“Everything is saved,” he said.

Josh Boam
Josh Boam

According to Boam, company founder and owner Alex Pomposelli has been out of touch for the past few days.

“I haven’t heard from Alex in days,” he said. “He’s not paying servers, people are dropping right and left from us.”

Clients could not connect with him either, until earlier today, when Pomposelli finally began responding.

“Alex was hacked, all accounts changed,” said Boam. “I’m working my ass off to recover and save everything now.”

Customers who would like to switch away from Avi-Labs should contact him directly at [email protected], he added. Boam can also run the hosting for personally for grid customers who would like him to do that.

“In the mean time, I’ll backup all the servers and grids I can and let the owners know they can safely switch without loosing anything,” he added.

Pomposelli has a long history of shutting down operations suddenly, without notice, and leaving customers hanging. He’s been able to offer a consistent level of service for the past few months — until now.

As before, this outage was notable for its lack of communication. There have been no updates on the Google Plus AviWorlds page, its Twitter account. The grid’s news and forum pages were all blank.

Boam did, however, post an update on his Facebook feed half an hour ago and on Google Plus.

Pomposelli did not respond to my request for comment.

Customers are furious.

“We have region servers down and more to come,” a spokesperson for the Baller Nation grid told Hypergrid Business. “Baller Nation is closing down not to any fault of our own. We trusted Avi-Labs and they have ruined our grid as well as our reputations. We put our faith into Avi-Labs as well as Alex Pomposelli and even defended him in your forum and unfortunately people were correct about him and his reputation of not being a good business person. We have no idea what the future of Baller Nation is at the moment, we are still trying to absorb all of what is happening, as well as refunding our sim owners.”

Virtual Lisbon on Loff Virtual Worlds. (Image courtesy Carlos Loff.)
Virtual Lisbon on Loff Virtual Worlds. (Image courtesy Carlos Loff.)

In addition to Baller Nation and AviWorlds, Avi-Labs also provides grid hosting for the Sinful GridLoff Virtual Worlds, the DreamWorldz Grid, and The Genesis Grid.

Grids and grid hosting companies do sometimes have expected outages, and sometimes there is nothing that the owners can do. But what the owners should definitely be doing is communicating with their customers, letting them know what is going on, and offering a prognosis as soon as one is available.

Up-to-date backups are also critical, and it remains to be seen whether all the data on Avi-Labs servers can be restored.

In this particular case, there was no news at all until a customer contacted me, and I tried to reach Pomposelli and Boam — though Boam, at least, responded promptly and immediately began communicating appropriately through various channels.

Maria Korolov

Maria Korolov is a science fiction writer who covers cybersecurity, AI and extended reality as a tech journalist at her day job.
Check out her author page on Amazon or follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. Her first virtual world novella, Krim Times, made the Amazon best-seller list in its category. Her second novella, The Lost King of Krim, is out now.