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Tuesday, 29 October, 2002, 15:47 GMT
Islamic hackers step up attacks
Donald Rumsfeld, US Defence Secretary
US is taking increasingly hard line on war with Iraq
Islamic hacking groups opposed to US plans for action against Iraq are escalating their attacks on websites run by western governments and large companies, according to security experts.

London-based computer security firm mi2g said October was the worst month for digital attacks since its records began in 1995.

It estimated that 16,559 attacks were carried out on computer systems and websites this month.

But the computer security firm said the economic damage caused by the attacks is decreasing, reflecting a decline in the quality of targets chosen for digital attack.

Internet graffiti

According to mi2g, which monitors the hacking of websites, the number of attacks by groups opposed to action against Iraq, or Israeli attacks on Palestinians has risen tenfold in the last month.

Main pro-Islamic hackers
USG: Formed in May 2002. Members from Egypt, Morocco and Eastern Europe. Responsible for 1513 attacks in October
FBH: Formed in July 2002. Members from Pakistan. Responsible for 588 attacks in October
"We have noticed that more and more Islamic interest hacking groups are beginning to rally under a common anti-US, UK, Australia, anti-India and anti-Israeli agenda," said the firm.

But mi2g says there is unlikely to be a worldwide network of such hackers.

They say the attacks are coming from a handful of small groups probably operating from Pakistan, the Middle East and Muslim former Soviet Republics.

Security concerns

The most active pro-Islamic hacking groups are USG, with members from Egypt, Morocco and Eastern Europe, and FBH which is based in Pakistan.

The nature of the internet means websites are open to large-scale attack.

Once the hackers have learned the theory necessary to break security codes and hack into one website, they will find similar ways to get into many other sites.

These kinds of attacks are mainly used to deface sites and place messages opposing war with Iraq.

But there are concerns that similar techniques could be used to hack into military security systems or control systems for nuclear power stations and water storage.

See also:

23 Aug 02 | Technology
11 Sep 02 | Technology
19 Jun 02 | Science/Nature
03 Sep 02 | Technology
16 Apr 02 | Science/Nature
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