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Online newspaper hacking case sets off alarm bells

Update: November, 24/2010 - 10:22

HA NOI — Internet security experts have warned news websites to stay alert for hackers after one of the top Vietnamese news sites was paralysed by hackers on Monday – for the second time in a month.

The online newspaper VietnamNet was disrupted from 3am on Monday. Visitors to the site only saw the messages: "Server is too busy," "Service unavailable," or "Hacked by Team Mosta Algerian Hacker" whenever trying to access the site.

Bui Binh Minh, the assistant to the newspaper's editor-in-chief, said the hacker managed to break into the site because of a software security error and then cleared all data off the host computer.

"However, about 80 per cent of the site's content was later recovered," he said.

The newspaper is now working with the Vietnamese Internet Security Company to try and find the hacker. One of the security officials investigating, Nguyen Minh Duc, said he could think of several reasons for a hacker to attack a news website, including making the site lose credibility and prestige – and using the newspaper to control information.

"This is not the first time a news website has been hacked. News website managers should pay more attention to internet security," he said.

A survey by the security company showed that more than 1,000 Vietnamese websites were hacked in 2009 and an estimated 800 so far this year.

Duc warned that many websites in Viet Nam did not have general security protection, making it easy for hackers to attack.

"For example, if a reporter or editor of an online newspaper uses an unsafe password, hackers can easily discover it and attack the whole system," he said.

"It is essential to regularly check to discover strange files in host computers to prevent hackers."

General secretary of the Viet Nam Information Safety Association Vu Quoc Thanh said hackers could easily attack 50 per cent of websites in Viet Nam because most of them lacked solutions to stop hackers.

"Hackers are more interested in online newspapers or bank websites which store much important information," Duc said.

The hacker into VietnamNet used the old method of taking control of the host computer then changed and cleared all data.

"We expected to find out his or her identity in one or two days," he said.

Two months ago, well-known security software company BitDefender ranked Viet Nam among 10 countries in the world with a high risk of security leaks. — VNS

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