Brazilian Catholics renew their faith when they open their homes to volunteers helping to run World Youth Day 2013.
VATICAN CITY — What a difference a year makes.
When the Vatican sponsored a meeting in April 2012 to review what went right and wrong in Madrid at World Youth Day 2011, the purpose was to ensure a smoother experience for the young people who were to have joined Pope Benedict XVI in Rio de Janeiro.
Rio’s gearing up. Young pilgrims from around the world are on the move. But it’s Pope Francis who is preparing to fly down to Brazil to join them.
The popes have changed. The Rio site for the vigil and closing Mass are much bigger than the space in Madrid was. (So many unregistered young people were allowed into the area in Madrid, that thousands of those who were registered were shut out.) Some 7,000 young pilgrims from the United States have registered to attend WYD Rio.
Even though we did this video last year, it shows the kind of planning that went into the Rio event. And the reference to encountering the reality of poverty in the developing world is something to keep in mind when Pope Francis arrives next week. He’s likely to challenge the young people — and the rest of us — to look at how our lifestyles and political choices impact the poor, but also to look at what we can learn from them.
VATICAN CITY — The U.S. Servant Sister who masterminded the defense of the World Youth Day website from a major cyberattack last summer has provided more details.
As noted Tuesday, news reports re-visited the attempt to hack the WYD Madrid site after the computer security company Imperva released a report, “Anatomy of an Anonymous Attack,” outlining what the company said it has learned about the hacking activities of the group that calls itself “Anonymous.” The report didn’t mention World Youth Day or the Vatican, but The New York Times reported that it confirmed “the Vatican” or, more accurately, World Youth Day, was the target.
Now there may be questions about that.
Servant Sister Kristen Gardner, who handled the massive computer operation for last August’s celebration of World Youth Day, explained in an email what happened. She said she thinks the news reports have gotten some information confused.
“I highly doubt that the Imperva report is about the WYD website,” she wrote.
“Yes, we were aware of the attack. In July we received several threats from Anonymous via YouTube videos. We prepared all the necessary infrastructure to secure the website, removing all possible security holes. During the week of WYD, which is when the DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attack took place, we were also aware of it, since the website at times was very slow and at other times could not be reached at all. The moments when the site was completely down were usually periods of about 10 minutes maximum.”
Sister Kristen said, “We were able to block the IPs (internet protocols) from which the attack was coming. The day with the most attacks was Thursday, August 18th,” the day Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Madrid.
“Imperva was not hired by WYD, nor did they do anything for us,” she said.
“We were prepared for the attacks,” she said, and especially in the last month before WYD kicked off she and her staff “continued to add extra protections. Thanks to that the hackers were only able to use DDoS tactics and not others. It would have been much worse if they had been able to enter the website and put their own content on it.”
While the cyberattack was not completely successful or destructive, it did create massive headaches.
“The security in the last week made it much, much more difficult to update the website. This was especially so due to the fact that we had a team of 20 volunteers working on the site and we had to daily inform them of the new security measures and the new processes (which took time to be learned) to be followed to update the website.,” she said.
“However, it was worth the work and effort,” Sister Kristen said.
You may have heard that the new World Youth Day logo was released last night in Rio de Janiero, where the next big international youth festival will be held next year. Here’s a look at one version of the new logo:
— William G Price III (@williamPriceIII) February 8, 2012
— Sr. Terry Rickard (@SrTerryRickard) February 8, 2012
— LisandroAcosta (@LisandroAcostaS) February 8, 2012
— Jim Steele (@Macsbampa) February 8, 2012
— Mike Roach (@ihackmore) February 8, 2012
— Paige Dowler (@PaigeDowler) February 8, 2012
What about you? Add your thoughts in the comments below.
By Sara Angle
One in a series
MADRID — While memories and new friends from across the world will remain as important reminders of pilgrims’ experiences in Madrid, tangible souvenirs were also flying off the shelves at the city’s retailers.
Official merchandise outposts were constantly crowded with pilgrims picking up things like T-Shirts, key chains, coffee mugs, hats, flags, bracelets, scarves, pins and books. Likewise, the souvenir shops were overflowing as WYD attendees rummaged through postcards, magnets, Spanish fans, Spanish flag paraphernalia, castanets and bullfight paraphernalia.
For myself, I bought an official “JMJ” (WYD) scarf and bracelet to add to my collection of bracelets from places I’ve travelled to. The scarf also doubled as a blanket on my chilly flight home from Madrid! I couldn’t resist getting a WYD coffee mug for my dad, (sorry to ruin the surprise, dad!) I also bought some traditional Spanish candies at the supermarket, to share with friends and family.
The tradition of trading things at WYD continued in Madrid, so many pilgrims are going home with an assortment of pins, bracelets, flags and other small trinkets from the week. The best souvenir, though, is the gift of faith that each pilgrim took home.
Sara Angle, 21, is a senior at Villanova University and has written for CNS from Rome and Washington. She enjoys traveling and soaking up the culture of her surroundings, be it through food, fashion or faith, and looks forward to covering WYD for CNS — from the big events to the off-beat adventures. Sara loves reading and writing (but not arithmetic) and dancing like no one is watching. You can also follow her on Twitter @CatholicNewsSvc. She’ll be using the hashtag #SaraInMadrid.