Robert McMillan, IDG News Service
The furor over a Danish newspaper's publication of cartoons depicting
the prophet Mohammed is being felt on the Internet, where hackers have
struck down and defaced hundreds of Danish Web sites over the past
week, according to a Web site that tracks digital attacks.
Approximately 800 Danish Web sites have been hacked since the end of
January, when reaction to the cartoons began to receive widespread
media attention, says Roberto Preatoni, founder of the Zone-h.org Web
On Tuesday, about 200 Danish Web sites were reported as hacked with
many of them being defaced with messages "in support of this Islamic
war on the Internet," Preatoni says. Typically between five and 10
Danish Web sites are reported hacked each day, he says.
Messages on the hacked sites include "don't ever [expletice] tallk
[cq] about our prophet," "[expletive] Denmark," and "Let the Muslim
people live in peace [expletive]."
Most of the hackers are "posting hate messages," Preatoni says, but
there are exceptions. "In some examples, we actually saw intelligent
educated people who hacked and posted very polite messages, explaining
what they were thinking."
The 12 cartoons, originally published on September 30 by the Danish
newspaper Jyllands-Posten have offended Muslims the world over and
sparked attacks by protesters on Danish embassies in Tehran, Beirut,
Preatoni estimates that another 700 non-Danish Web sites have also
been hacked in connection with the cartoons.
History of Hacks
The Zone-h.org Web site contains about 10 years' worth of data on
hacked Web sites, most of it submitted by the hackers themselves,
including information on the motivation behind the attacks.
Other worldwide hacking protests have flared up in the past, including
a surge in attacks after a U.S. spy plane was downed in China in
2001. After the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, there was also a
"massive Islamic protest" on the Internet, Preatoni says.
The reaction to the Danish cartoons, however, has yielded the largest
number of defacements in such a short time, according to
Preatoni. "Islamic hackers, regardless of where they are located in
the globe, they are uniting in this general protest against Denmark,"
One Danish site that has apparently not been defaced is that of the
Jyllands-Posten itself. It has been the target of a number of denial
of service attacks, where attackers attempt to flood the Web site with
so many requests that it ceases to operate, but it has remained in
operation, says Mikko Hypponen, director of anti-virus research with
F-Secure. "Outside of that, I'm not aware of any hack attacks that
have succeeded in any way," he says. "It has not been defaced."
Copyright 2006 PC World Communications, Inc.
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