Hackers challenge 'could be hoax'
Date: July 5, 2003
COMPANIES around the world are remaining on alert for a threatened wave of cyber attacks on their computers this weekend but many experts say the so-called "Defacer's Challenge" could be a hacker's hoax.
The site announcing the challenge has been taken off the internet but the authorities in the United States and computer security experts have told companies to make sure their systems are not vulnerable.
The international hacking contest was scheduled to begin on Sunday. The original announcement on defacers-challenge.com promised points to malicious hackers who breached an organisation's server and defaced its web pages.
The challenge aimed to deface up to 6,000 websites over six hours, according to security experts. Internet Security Systems (ISS) Inc and other leading consultants issued international warnings to clients.
"We emphasise that all website administrators should ensure that their sites are not vulnerable," said Peter Allor of ISS, an Atlanta-based company that runs the Information Technology Information Sharing and Analysis Centre.
Authorities also sounded alerts. The US Department of Homeland Security said it was monitoring events but would not make a formal warning because it did not know if the threat was serious.
"Hacker contests are relatively common, so I'm a little mystified why this is receiving so much attention," said agency spokesman David Wray.
But Kentucky state made a public warning for companies and organisations to "ensure their web servers are appropriately patched with the most recent server and operating system patches".
Counterpane Internet Security said "it is doubly important to verify that all production and mission-critical servers have the latest vendor-approved security patches and that firewall rules and access lists are in place and properly formatted".
Zone-H, a company which monitors computer defacements, said it had been told about the challenge a week ago but "decided not to go public with the news in order not to give it too much importance, hoping that the whole thing was just a soap bubble".
Amid some reports that it might be organising the event, Zone-H released a statement denying involvement and insisting that it was just "an independent cybercrime observatory".
"Zone-H will not take active part in this defacement contest. If some cybercrimes will be notified to us, we will put them in our archive and we'll produce statistics," said the statement.
Zone-H has however noted a marked decline in notifications of new defacements in recent days which it said indicated that hackers may be waiting for Sunday.
Zone-H founder Roberto Preatoni said that hackers have all the necessary equipment and skills to carry out the threatened challenge in a few seconds.
Original article: http://www.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,4057,6704119%255E1702,00.html
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