Engineering Student Codes Counterattack on Gore Raid

Biomedical engineering senior Vietbao Tran holds up his unique Petr stickers

Jan. 25, 2024 - When biomedical engineering senior Vietbao Tran began coding for fun in high school, he probably didn’t imagine he’d use his skills to counter a gore raid on UC Irvine students’ online community.

Before the attack last week, Tran coded for gentler pursuits like designing Petr the Anteater sticker grids or reminding fellow students to write in their class COVID diary.

But last week, his tech skills were called upon when malicious groups bombarded the UCI Discord community with gory images of human and animal mutilation, affecting over 30 servers and the 30,000 students online, and many more at Washington State University and USC.

UCI students acted swiftly. Alina Kim, a lead moderator for the main UCI server, immediately gathered group leaders to mount their defense. Within 24 hours, Tran wrote the code that would enable nearly 100 UCI moderators to together identify and ban the spammers across all the groups simultaneously. They identified over 400 users in the raiders’ server and passed that data to a bot created by Tran to ban the malicious users.

“We’re a pretty strong community,” Tran says. “We were the first to counterattack the raiders and get their servers shut down.” They also contacted the FBI, police and media. The campus police are conducting an investigation, and mental health services have been offered to those in need.

“The gore raid was unprecedented,” says Tran. “Once in a while there was spam, but most of the people on Discord are nice. They’re just UCI students helping each other.” Tran says the students use hundreds of online groups to share useful information about classes, hobbies and clubs.

The Petr Community waiting for a unique Petr sticker

One of the most popular ones is the Petr Community, which has over 3,000 members, and is named after Peter the Anteater. Tran says three to four times a day, students dress up in costume - like the university mascot - and drop Petr stickers that they designed. If you see a crowd of students running around campus in unison, they’re running after a Petr sticker.

Tran loves to collect Petr stickers and designed a program that makes adjustable grids and cut paths that can print the stickers in sheets. He is the proud owner of over a thousand unique Petr stickers.

Though he excels at coding, Tran is a biomedical engineering student who’s fascinated with optical imaging and hopes to continue his studies in graduate school at UCI. For his senior project, Tran and his team have created a hyperspectral microscope that measures fluorescence signals that analyze whether a cell is cancerous. 

Fighting cancer by day and cybercrime by night – not a bad way for this mild-mannered engineering student to use his time and talents at UCI.

– Natalie Tso