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Vandals with a conscience? (Tech Talk).

Cyberdelinquents who use their knowledge of information security to compromise a Web site and deface an organization's Web page may be nothing more than a nuisance, the online equivalent of the graffitists who spray-paint their initials on brick walls. Or they may be dangerous cyberterrorists. Either way, they showed a brief glimpse of their soft side after the terrorist attacks last year.

Statistics from two groups that monitor Web site defacements show that defacements dropped dramatically in the wake of the September 11 attacks. According to the Alldas.de defacement archive, defacements peaked in May 2001 when almost 3,500 Web sites were reported to have been compromised and altered by 472 individual attackers. That number plummeted after the terrorist attacks, and September statistics noted only 225 defacements, a decrease of more than 93 percent, committed by 74 hackers. The site collects statistics from defacers who forward the site's URL via e-mail to Alldas.de.

Similarly, statistics on defacements compiled by British information security consultants mi2G showed that incidents declined from a yearly high of over 3,800 in May to only 815 in September. Overall, mi2G found four times more defacements in 2001 than in 2000. The Windows operating system remains the most common target. It is almost four times more popular than Linux systems, according to mi2G's statistics.

But Web site defacements rapidly returned to their previous levels after September; mi2G numbers showed that they more than tripled in October, while Alldas.de figures indicated an almost-ninefold growth in the same month. More than 30,000 Web sites were defaced last year, according to research by mi2G; Alldas.de reported more than 22,000. However, defacements dropped in early 2002--to 1,950 in January and 933 in February--according to mi2G.

@ Read about the latest defacements by visiting SM Online.
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Title Annotation:web site defacement declined after the September 11 attacks
Author:Piazza, Peter
Publication:Security Management
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2002
Words:301
Previous Article:Food for thought. (Tech Talk).
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