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[] War Hack Attacks Tit For Tat,

War Hack Attacks Tit For Tat

March 28, 2003 

LONDON -- Pro-and-anti Iraq war protesters have been making their
point by hacking into Web sites in a display of cyber activism, rather
than with the traditional can of spray paint or placard.

Countless activists -- protesters or war hawks -- have the ability to
hijack or cripple Web sites from the opposing camp, leaving in their
wake a graveyard of busted and defaced links.

"This is the future of protest," said Roberto Preatoni, founder of
Zone-H, an Estonian firm that monitors and records hacking attacks.  
Since the war in Iraq started last week, the firm has recorded over
20,000 website defacements.

The most notable victim was al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based satellite TV
network that angered many Western viewers earlier this week when it
aired footage of dead British and American soldiers and of prisoners
of war.

The Arabic-language site,, flickered to life on
Friday, but access to the English-language version remained
impossible, the result of repeated hack attacks since Monday.

On Thursday, visitors to the English site were greeted with a
stars-and-stripes logo saying "Let Freedom Ring." Earlier, "Hacked by
Patriot, Freedom Cyber Force Militia," was scrawled on the site
beneath a logo containing the U.S. flag.

A representative for the FBI said the agency was investigating the
al-Jazeera website hack.

Al-Jazeera was not alone. Sites on both sides of the war have been
targeted, as have sites with no obvious affiliation to the war effort.

Last week, when bombs first began to drop on Baghdad, hundreds of U.S.  
and British business, government and municipal Web sites were defaced
with anti-war messages, security experts reported. Seemingly within
hours, more hawkish hackers went on the offensive against Arab sites.

Identifying themselves with such nicknames as Hackweiser and DkD,
hackers and hacker groups are hard to track down.

While Faisal Bodi, senior editor for, pointed a finger
at the Bush administration, security experts dismiss the existence of
state-sponsored hacking initiatives.

Instead they say they are usually the work of private groups or
individuals with a particular viewpoint to communicate -- or with the
aim of gagging their opponent. The recent tit-for-tat attacks prompted
calls from free speech activists -- and even some hackers -- for a

"In a protest or activist scenario, one would hope that one's cause
and message were strong enough that 'shouting down' the opposing
viewpoint is considered unnecessary," said Mark Loveless, a hacker who
works for U.S. security software company BindView Corp. and is known
online as Simple Nomad.

"People wouldn't tolerate groups that burn down book shops or news
agents that sell publications they don't agree with. They shouldn't
tolerate the online equivalent," said Ian Brown, director of the
Foundation for Information Policy Research, a British free speech
think tank.

But others are convinced the worst is yet to come. "If you take down
al-Jazeera, everybody around the world knows it. And you never have to
leave your house," Preatoni said.

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