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Tuesday, 11 April, 2000, 11:25 GMT 12:25 UK
Hacker attacks warning
IT professional
Hackers can create a headache for security experts
 Click here to watch the programme at 2300BST on Tuesday, 11 April

Companies doing business on the internet are being warned to take real measures to protect themselves from hackers.

A survey by the Department of Trade and Industry shows that almost two-thirds of firms interviewed suffered a breach in their systems over the past two years.

All companies doing business on the internet are vulnerable to hackers. BBC Scotland's Frontline programme will show on Tuesday how easy it is to crash a system.

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The Scottish Executive's website was hacked
In one case, a young man working from his bedroom in Elgin allegedly hacked into Visa, a breach of security that sent shockwaves through the money world.

This type of crime is still more prevalent in America, but experts fear Scottish companies are increasingly at the mercy of hackers, who are usually young and male.

The DTI survey shows most companies do not even think about security when buying or selling over the internet, an attitude employers are being urged to change.

Hacking attacks can be carried out for financial gain, but most are aimed at demonstrating the perpetrators' prowess in outwitting security experts.

Government attacks

Microsoft, the world's biggest software company, has been the victim of a number of high profile attacks.

UK Government websites have also been targeted, as have the Scottish Executive's pages.

Hackers accessed the executive's website in September 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 broken into and bogus text and a picture inserted.

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.

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See also:

10 Feb 00 | Talking Point
Can the internet ever be secure?
10 Jan 00 | Sci/Tech
Hacker scare hits Virgin Net
10 Jan 00 | Sci/Tech
Net thief grabs credit cards
11 Jan 00 | Business
Fresh web security scare
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