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Saturday, July 5, 2003

Defacers Challenge the Web

This Sunday, a whole lot of websites might change their appearance. But not necessarily the way their webmasters would expect them to. It’s Defacers Challenge, a global hacker contest aiming to unlock 6,000 sites.

“A defacer is a hacker who breaks into a Web server and defaces the Web site by replacing or altering the front page.”
– Joris Evers, Report: Cybervandalism jumped in 2001 (, January 8, 2002

The score system awards little points for Windows servers (being known for certain security issues in the first place), and a somewhat higher score for others.
Some big companies already unplugged parts of their systems in preparation for the challenge, ducking from the attack. Watch Monday news to see what really happened, and expect some “Temporarily Closed for Redesign” statements. Let’s wait and see if this hacker, or rather, cracker attempt was hyped, or underestimated.

More information directly from the Defacers Challenge homepage, or in the article ISS warns of coordinated attack. Also, see the recommendations for webmasters.
And for a little hacking history overview:

“Computer science students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are generally credited with coining the two terms in the late 1950s and early 1960s. A “hack” as explained by Steven Levy in his 1984 book “Hackers” (...) was a prank or clever project undertaken for no purpose other than to satisfy the person doing it, generally involving a technically challenging system, electronic or otherwise. To be labeled a “hacker” at MIT meant having created a unique program or solved a problem with a truly innovative solution. To be a hacker was to have earned a badge of honor requiring near-monastic dedication to refining a computer program to perfection (...)

In the mid-1980s to be a hacker was to be something else entirely. The first wave of personal home computers (...) landed in the living rooms of many American families. Hackers were software pirates, deft at cracking the codes that protected games, word processing programs and other software from being copied and circulated illegally.

Then in the 1990s, the civilized world discovered the Internet.”
– Arik Hesseldahl, New York Hackers: The New Generation, March 1997


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