Hackers vandalise 45 South African websites
By Gustav Thiel
Source: Cape Times
Date: January 12, 2004
A group of computer hackers calling themselves Spykids has struck 45 Cape Town business websites and defaced their home pages.
The incident comes amid a dramatic reduction in the number of hackers targeting South African websites, according to Reinhardt Buys, an Internet lawyer in Cape Town.
Buys said that after Absa Bank lost around R500 000 to a hacker last year, businesses tightened their online security measures.
South Africa had been recording, on average, 70 hacks a day midway through last year, but the number had since declined to around 17 a day. The most sites attacked in South Africa in a single day was 105 on May 22 last year.
'They are just out for the boast'
Buys said the optimism about the progress made in combating hackers had been subdued by the Spykids' strikes.
"On Thursday last week, a hacker group referring to itself as Spykids hacked into websites located in Cape Town and Stellenbosch," Buys said.
"The fact that all the websites are in the Western Cape seems to show the hackers broke into a single server and therefore had access to all the websites hosted on that server."
The defaced websites used Microsoft Windows 2000.
Buys said many businesses in South Africa were too embarrassed to say their sites had been hacked into and often did not report cases to the Directorate of Special Investigations.
'Most hackers seem to be from Brazil'
A Scorpions spokesperson said on Sunday no charges had been laid in connection with the Spykids.
Buys said he suspected the attacks were carried out from outside the country, "most probably" from Brazil."
"Most hackers seem to be from Brazil because it has the least effective legislation in place," he said.
Most owners of defaced websites in the United States tended not to file complaints with the police, but to "claim their losses from the Internet service providers who host the websites and who should have provided proper protections".
Cape Town computer expert Justin Stanford, who specialises in information security, said Internet banking and websites remained susceptible to hackers. He said the "egotistical" nature of hackers, with their "almost childish" psychological make-up, made them determined to succeed.
"They are just out for the boast and the more prestigious the company hacked, the more the boasting rights."
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