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Wednesday, August 4, 1999 Published at 08:45 GMT 09:45 UK


Anti-virus company hacked

A leading provider of net security and anti-virus software, Symantec, had its website hacked on Monday.

The FBI has been informed and is already beginning an investigation.

Visitors to found a page claiming that a group of five crackers had infiltrated Symantec's servers with a virus called bloworm.

The crackers said that their virus, a worm, has been spreading around Symantec's network, infecting files for two months.

However, Aled Miles, Symantec's Regional Director for UK and Ireland, told BBC News Online: "I can categorically state that there is no effect on our servers internally - that is a hoax which adds to the publicity wagon."

He added that: "We have established that there was no risk [of infection] to anyone visiting our website during that time."

Symantec repaired the damage in about 45 minutes but the hacked page was visible for up to 12 hours. This was because some ISP's and corporations cache content on servers in their environment to either reduce traffic across a network or for security reasons.

[ image: Crackers thrive on publicity]
Crackers thrive on publicity

Symantec are the makers of Norton Anti-virus software and their UK website says: "Symantec is a leader in Internet and content security."

The hacking of their website will be seen as embarrassing but Mr Miles said that any organisation, even the CIA itself, could fall prey to malicious attacks like these.

He said: "The sad reality is that whilst the Internet is a tremendous new technological force, it comes with its down side. What matters is how quickly we as a company react to this type of incident.

"What I am not embarassed about is the speed and agility we have shown in sorting this out. I don't think it damages our reputation in the slightest."

Symantec has become a higher profile target in recent months due to its work in combatting viruses such as Melissa, and the program Back Orifice.

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