Hacker "contest" impact minimal

Hacker "contest" impact minimal

By Stuart Finlayson

The much publicised hacker "contest," devised to vandalise 6000 Websites in a six hour period yesterday, came and went without causing too much disruption to the network.

Increased vigilance on the part of large corporate and other major organisations in recent times bore fruit, with no reports emerging of successful intrusions into major sites. A number of small, unknown Website were breached and used by hackers to inform fellow mischief makers of the ongoing tally of sites damaged.

The widespread coverage given to the creation of the site advertising the contest - which was subsequently withdrawn by the host ISP – also gave businesses a window of opportunity to tighten their network security.

Alan Bell, Australian marketing director at Network Associates, said he was not surprised at the type of small business that was affected by the disruption.

"One of the tools commonly used by hackers to break into Websites is Trojans that have been left behind on machines. Those Trojans are typically prevented from causing damage by using antivirus software which will scan your machine to make sure you don't have any Trojans or spyware on your machines.

"Unfortunately, the people that are in the worst position to be able to fend against such attacks are the small businesses who are basically focusing on getting their job done. Security may not be toppermost in their thoughts, yet they are the ones who wear the pain of having their sites damaged and having to go through the effort of restoring them.

"I think one of the prime lessons out of this is that you are always vulnerable to hackers and therefore you must always make sure that you have the right security measures in place.

It seems that the US Department of Homeland Security, whose main remit is to prevent terrorist and other security attacks in the US, were on the money last Thursday when expressing surprise at the coverage the contest had garnered in the days leading up to the planned attack.

"Hacker contests are relatively common, so I'm a little mystified why this is receiving so much attention," exclaimed agency spokesman David Wray.

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