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Last Updated: Monday, 7 July, 2003, 10:14 GMT 11:14 UK
Hacker competition fails to bite
Screengrab of error message, BBC
Zone-H was hit during the contest
A widely publicised hacking contest which encouraged vandals to deface websites has ended without causing serious trouble.

Early reports suggested that the event could disrupt the net for many users but Sunday passed with little incident.

Security firms and experts said that the event fizzled out and no high-profile sites suffered damage.

One of the few casualties of the event was the independent website recording the sites that the hackers did manage to deface.

Damage limitation

Roberto Preatoni, founder of the Estonia-based Zone-H site that tracks attacks, said the final tally of defacements would not be known for 36 hours until the logs of claimed successes had been scrutinised.

It seems to be a damp squib
Graham Cluley, Sophos
The organisers of the Defacers Challenge wanted to see more than 6,000 sites defaced or disrupted during the six hour duration of Sunday's competition.

Points were awarded for the different types of sites hacked.

But security firms monitoring the event said they did not think that more than a few thousand sites had been defaced.

"It seems to be a damp squib," said Graham Cluley, spokesman for security firm Sophos.

One of the few sites that did suffer on Sunday was Zone-H, which was acting as independent scorekeeper for the competition.

It came under attack on the day and the site's patchy performance plus the unexciting winning prize, 500MB of storage space, contributed to the poor turnout.

Some sites of small firms were known to be hit by hackers on the day but none of the big hosting companies that look after many thousands of sites reported successful defacements.

Publicity about the competition was thought to have helped firms prepare and put in place security measures to combat vandals.

"With all the media attention the competition received prior to Sunday, there was a real danger of it becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy," said Bart Vansevenant, Director of International Security Strategies of computer security firm Ubizen.

"In reality, due to the make-up of the competition, less well protected smaller websites were the most affected."

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