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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 April, 2003, 12:07 GMT 13:07 UK
Hacker causes havoc for websites
Computer code
Hacker brought down websites and stole passwords
Up to 1,500 websites could have been affected by a recent hack attack.

The hacker broke into the server of web hosting firm bargainhost.co.uk, stealing passwords and defacing websites.

One of those affected, snowboarding site powderroom.net has lost 7 months of e-mails, contacts and forums since the site went down last week.

Bargainhost, which looks after around 5,000 websites and has 1,500 sitting on the affected server, is struggling to cope with the problem.

Sites corrupted

"Our only advice to customers at the moment is to change their passwords," said Technology Manager James Innes.

Backups of customers website have become heavily corrupted as well and the firm is currently manually recreating over 1,000 customer accounts.

Owner of powderroom.net Lucie McLean is unimpressed with the level of service received since the incident.

"They didn't reply to any of my queries personally about what was happening and it wasn't until Wednesday that they even acknowledged there was a problem - even then they couldn't give any estimate of when it would be restored," she told BBC News Online.

She has decided to move the site to a new host despite paying out for two years of hosting with bargainhost.co.uk.

Her advice for other websites is simple.

"I know we always get warned to back up data at home but it never even occurred to me that I might have to back up what I had stored on their servers," she said.

"I thought they would have had really good security. I reckon people should be warned to back up everything - everywhere," she added.

This is the second time Bargainhost appears to have been the target of hackers.

The owner of a DVD news and review website told BBC News Online his site had been hacked more than a month ago.

Andrew Phillips, who runs DVD24-7 said he has now moved his site to a different hosting company.

"I won't be using them again even though I have 18 months left to run on my subscription," he said.

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