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Monday, September 13, 1999 Published at 19:21 GMT 20:21 UK

World: Africa

Hackers deface SA stats site

SA has been hit by a wave of recent industrial disputes

Hackers have broken into South Africa's official statistics website, replacing economic information with critical comments about the national telephone company, Telkom.

Reuters news agency reported that visitors to the site who normally see the latest consumer price index and figures gross domestic product figures, were instead faced with comments such as "Telkom stop your ... lame-ass monopoly or we will disconnect you."

The page is usually an important source of information for economists tracking the country's performance.

The statistics web site is currently unavailable and it is estimated that it could be up to two days before the site is back to normal.

Many of Telkom's workers are involved in a wage dispute with their employer and have engaged in organised go-slows.

Telekom admit that there have been a number of incidents of sabotage during the dispute, but an official for Telkom said she did not believe the defacing of the statistics website was related to the dispute.

Telkom's site does not appear to be affected.

There have been a number of high profile security breaches in recent months on web sites such as Microsoft's Hotmail.

While these are often done under the pretext of exposing security flaws on a site, sometimes groups referred to as crackers, attack sites because they have an axe to grind.

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