||21 Mar 2003 17:51
|Web site hacks rise as war rages |
Bernhard Warner, European Internet Correspondent
LONDON (Reuters) - As bombs continue to fall in Iraq,
protesters and patriotic hackers alike have stepped up their war of
words on the Internet, defacing hundreds of U.S. and UK corporate
and government Web sites, a security expert says.
"We've had reports of 800 defacements today, which is ten
times more than a week ago, which tells me groups are increasingly
turning to the Internet to protest," said Mikko Hypponen, manager of
Finnish anti-virus software firm F-Secure.
The messages run the gamut, ranging from words of support
for American and British troops to anger over the military campaign.
Victims vary from a U.S. Navy Web site to the homepage for UK
industrial products distributor Routeco, www.routeco.com.
According to pictures captured on F-Secure's Web site, the
Routeco home page carried a photo of protestors burning an American
flag. Underneath the image, a message read: "Ohh YeaH BabY...Ur SiTe
Has BeeN DeFaceD."
The Web site was back to normal by mid-day Thursday, a
computer consultant for Routeco told Reuters.
The site www.seabornes.com was also hit by war protesters,
quoting the Koran. It also issued the ominous warning: "It's The New
Era of Cyber War We Promised!"
Groups with a strong political bent increasingly have been
using Web site defacement and crude hacking techniques as methods of
Like graffiti, defaced Web sites are considered little
more than a nuisance. The message tends to get wide exposure, but
the damage to the victim is minimal. Web site operators typically
have the site restored within a matter of hours.
"This is the work of individual groups. We haven't seen
any signs of state-sponsored network (intrusions)," Hypponen said on
Hypponen said security firms have been staffing up to
handle the more damaging potential cyber attacks: email-based worms
A new e-mail worm, dubbed Ganda-A, surfaced this week in
Europe, purporting to show screensavers of U.S. spy satellite
pictures of Iraq or animations that are either patriotic or that
mock President Bush.
The worm spreads by sending itself to e-mail addresses on
an infected machine and tries to disable anti-virus and other
security software and infect certain files on the hard disk.
Hypponen said the worm was petering out on Friday. Still,
his team remains on the ready.
"We doubled our on-call staff. We are prepared if anything
happens. So far, nothing has," he said.