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Last Updated:  Friday, 21 March, 2003, 11:41 GMT
Anti-war hackers target websites
The number of web defacements has leapt up since the US-led war against Iraq began.

Screen grab of hack attack
Peace campaigners are among the hackers
According to security firm F-Secure, more than 1,000 sites have been hacked in direct relation to the Iraq conflict.

Many of the hack attacks contain anti-war slogans and some have direct anti-USA or anti-Iraq slogans.

Sites hacked to date include the US National Centre for Agricultural Utilization Research and the US Navy.

Three groups of hackers are believed to be responsible according to F-Secure; US-based patriotic hackers, Islamic extremist groups and peace activists who were against the war.


While politically motivated hackers are nothing new, it is an interesting development to have peace campaigners turning to the net to get across their message said General Manager of F-Secure Jason Holloway.

"In the past hack attacks have been about the kudos of breaking into a website and proving yourself the best hacker," he said.

"But this seems to be using the web as a soapbox and a way of spreading a message. The vast majority of these attacks have been pro-peace and that is unusual," he added.

US security firm iDefense has also reported hundreds of websites have been daubed with anti-war graffiti since the beginning of the conflict.

The firm believes a pro-Islamic hacking group the Unix Security Guards is responsible.

The cyber graffiti promises that the defacements are the beginning of "the new era of cyber war".

Limited damage

Political hacking known as hacktivism is not a new phenomenon and in the run-up to the Iraq war there has been increased activity from pro-Islamic hackers.

Israel has also been under bombardment from hackers as tensions rise in the region.

The bomb in Bali caused a rash of cyber attacks against South Asian targets, originating from Indonesia and Malaysia.

And tensions between Pakistan and India over the disputed territory of Kashmir caused a series of to and fro attacks from groups representing both sides.

The Ganda e-mail worm was the first example of a virus exploiting the ongoing war, luring computer users with the promise of satellite pictures of Iraq and screensavers mocking President Bush.

Both the web defacements and the Ganda virus have caused limited damages.

At the moment the attacks has been against fairly low key sites.

But as more sophisticated hackers get involved as the conflict intensified then more sensitive US military sites could be targeted, warned Mr Holloway.

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