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Monday, September 13, 1999 Published at 11:26 GMT 12:26 UK

UK: Scotland

Ministers' Website still down

Bogus text was inserted in the Website by hackers

The Scottish Executive Website is still out of commission - nearly a week after being pulled following a second security breach.

And there is still no firm date when the site will be operational again.

Computer hackers accessed the Scottish Executive's Website last week after security measures had been tightened following a warning that the site was open to attack.

The home page, containing a foreword from First Minister Donald Dewar, was accessed and bogus text and a picture inserted.

Home page message

The site has since been unavailable with the message "currently being updated" posted on the home page with no indication of when it will return.

[ image: The site was taken down last Wednesday]
The site was taken down last Wednesday
BBC News Online Scotland called the site's designers, Scotland On Line, to ask when it would be up and running again.

Scotland On Line passed the BBC onto its parent company, Scottish Telecom, which said the site was taken down at the request of the Scottish Executive.

A spokeswoman said consultations were continuing with the executive regarding security measures, but the timing of the site's return would be a matter for the executive.

A Scottish Executive spokesman said he understood it was hoped to re-publish the site later this week.

But he added: "It is our decision. It will not go back on until we are confident it is secure."

Breach warning

The site was defaced after a warning that it was open to attack from hackers, terrorists and other criminals.

The security loophole was exposed by DNScon, a group campaigning for greater precautions against information warfare.

It said the security lapses meant hackers could have gained access and theoretically declared Scottish independence.

The group said the biggest loophole in the Scottish Executive's site lay open for months and remained open for several days after Mr Dewar was alerted to the problem.

DNScon said hackers could have planted false information on the website, such as the results of a reshuffle of the Scottish cabinet, declaring independence, or manipulating the stock market by falsely changing taxes on North Sea oil or whisky.

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