Anti-war hackers hit US sites
Attacks by computer hackers against company Internet sites have been increasingly focusing on US firms, with many of the incidents clearly aimed at protesting the US-led war against Iraq, according to a specialist British consultancy.
So far this month, two thirds of all attacks launched on the Internet have hit the sites of companies from the United States and Canada^; double the number recorded for March last year, according to British specialists mi2g.
By comparison, says the company specialising in information intelligence, websites in Europe have been the target of only 21 percent of attacks, a drop from 30 percent last year.
Since then, Iraq has taken centre stage and hackers across the globe have shifted their focus to North American targets.
It's a phenomenon that mi2g says will cause around €2 billion (US$2.14 billion) in damage to computer systems worldwide.
Computer "hacktivism" is steadily on the rise and hackers who were once essentially apolitical have been leaving slogans denouncing Washington's handling of Iraq wherever they strike.
According to mi2g, the American Academy of Diplomacy was hacked while US President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Spanish counterpart Jose Maria Aznar were holding an emergency summit in the Azores islands last weekend.
It said the phrase "NO WAR" was repeated more than 30 times. Other messages left over the weekend included protests about the way Washington and London are handling the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
New breed of peace activism
This new breed of peace activism originates mainly in Brazil, France, Mexico and Morocco, industry experts say. In contrast, most computer crime directed at the United States last year came from Indonesia, Pakistan and other Muslim states.
A similar increase in this kind of activity occurred in 1999, when the United States and NATO launched air strikes on federal Yugoslavia, but they were focused more on government and military sites rather than those of companies.
German computer security expert Christoph Fischer said that wherever the attacks come from and whatever their targets, "you can be protected against them 100 percent."
"Generally speaking, computer hackers take advantage of systems that are badly configured and weaknesses in company software to get to their data banks," Fischer said.
He also played down fears of the damage they could cause and their reach, saying they would not be able to "cause widespread chaos on the Internet or spread terror."
The director of German company Symantec went further. "The attacks on American targets are numerous," said Olaf Lindner, but "there was no great leap in March."
At Mi2g, meanwhile, the British experts calculate that hacking on the Internet will cause damage to computer systems around the globe totalling €16 to 20 billion this year
Cybercrime News Archive