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Hacker Hijacks College Network

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Oct 10, 2003 12:00 AM PDT    Text size: 
UNITED KINGDOM -- Computer hackers hijacked a website belonging to Lakes College in West Cumbria and used it to display hardcore Romanian porn content, British authorities reported.

Lakes College touts itself as being very "high tech" and claims that its information technology (IT) staff are all graduates of the Microsoft IT Academy, which trains institutional staff on networking and programming for large networks.

The network attack allegedly took place during a period when Lakes College IT staff were switching the network over from a local area network with a 56k modem to broadband. According to a college spokesperson, the incident occurred during the network's transition, which left the college's website vulnerable to cyber crime.

After network personnel were able to review the method behind the attack, it was determined that the point of origin was through one of the college's satellite service sites.

"We have a number of satellite sites and it was from one of these," the spokesperson was quoted as saying. "We were converting from our current system to broadband and some of the staff came across this material during the procedure."

The spokesperson added that the Romanian porn site was only run from the network for a few days and that IT staff were able to disable it before it affected the college's main network.

"Luckily it was not on the college's main network and our IT staff managed to deal with it fairly quickly," the said. "The security is very good on our system. It kept out those worm viruses that caused problems recently."

According to a report from Zaray Internet Consultants, the hijacking of corporate or institutional computer networks is a growing form of cyber crime, and the number of hackers operating internationally is expected to grow to 20 million over the next five years.

"Most of them could be classed as amateurs, known as 'script kiddies', who use an array of hacking tools freely available on the Internet," Zaray states. "There are also a growing band of professional hackers, known as 'black hats', who are able to perform deep network penetration using sophisticated entry and detection avoidance techniques that hide their malicious damaging activities."

The Federal Trade Commission recently settled a case against an Australian man accused of operating a website hijacking scheme. The man was allegedly redirecting traffic to a series of porn sites that he owned after copying the source code from various non-adult web pages.

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