War Hack Attacks Tit For Tat

"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, www.aljazeera.net, 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 Aljazeera.net, pointed a finger at the Bush administration, security experts dismiss the existence of state-sponsored hacking initiatives. "

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