Canada in hacktivist crosshairs

Thursday, 20 March 2003, 1:51 PM EST

Figures from a European cyber-security watchdog indicate that Canadian as well as U.S. servers are in the crosshairs as attackers around the world express their disapproval of U.S. activity in the Middle East.

Unlike covert sneak-attacks that typically go undiscovered or are not reported to police, overt attacks refer to situations where a hacker breaks into an on-line system and changes publicly visible components. This includes things such as defacing Web pages or forcing printers to spit out a specific message.

The latest report from London-based computer security specialist mi2g showed that as the likelihood of a U.S. invasion of Iraq increased in March, so did the number of overt on-line attacks against U.S. computer systems - from 753 in the entire month of March 2002, to a whopping 4,781 in the first two weeks of this month alone.

Meanwhile, the number of overt on-line assaults on Canadian-operated servers catalogued by mi2g rose from 37 for all of March 2002, to 459 in just the first half of the month this year. This marks a more than tenfold increase in the number of attacks - as well as a rise from 4.7 per cent to 8.7 per cent in terms of the proportion of attacks on Canadian on-line systems relative to the total number attacks on North America as a whole - with half of March still to go.

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