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Saturday, 22 December, 2001, 08:06 GMT
Hacker boys from Brazil
Computer user, BBC
Brazil's sites are some of the most hacked in the world
By BBC Click Online's Simon Hancock

Brazil boasts some of the most active hackers in the world.

An army of schoolchildren is flexing its information technology muscles, bringing company sites to their knees.

Brazil's sites are some of the most hacked in the world. Last year, the number of hacked sites increased 10 times.

Like the graffiti artists of 20 years ago, they are looking to spray their names wherever they can. They may be causing headaches now, but the bright side in the long run for the country may be that they are learning while they are at it.

From hacker to security expert

Andre Fucs, now 23 years old, was once a hacker. He now advises one of Brazil's biggest banks on computer security.

Andre Fucs, BBC
Fucs: Defacement is a macho joke
"When you break a computer you have to understand how it works and you learn," he told BBC Click Online.

"I think now I can think like a hacker, since I was breaking a lot of computer networks in Brazil, I can guess how these guys are thinking."

Andre believes things have changed quite a bit since his day. He has little time for today's defacers.

"I think defacement is useless. Most of these guys don't know how to do it. They just care about their image.

"They're not learning, they're just repeating a procedure developed by someone else. I think this is a big problem. Defacement is a macho joke."

'Patriotic' hacking

Sometimes it can be funny though. Outraged Brazilian defacers rampaged through Canadian sites after the country banned Brazilian beef, for example.

Hackers defaced Canadian sites, BBC
Hackers defaced Canadian sites
So some attacks seem to have been thought out, but is this enough?

"I think if they like computer security then they can become experts, but they have to want to and I don't see this at all," said Andre.

"Some guys have some will to change, but will is not everything, you need to start doing."

These web vandals would do well to listen to Andre, because if they follow his lead they could be cashing in for years to come.

"I can do anything I want. I'm not rich, but I can spend my holidays in Europe, in Chile skiing," said Andre. "I don't have snow in Brazil and I can snowboard twice a year, it's nice."

Click Online is on BBC World on Thursday at 2230, Friday at 1030, 1430 and 2030, Saturday at 0730, 1430 and 1930 and on Sunday at 1030. All times GMT.

See also:

30 Oct 01 | Sci/Tech
Attacks from the heart of the net
24 Oct 01 | South Asia
Indian news sites hacked
23 Oct 01 | Americas
Hacktivists take sides in war
01 Dec 01 | Europe
Learning to hack
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