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Hacker challenge ends in feuding

Tracking Web site crippled by DDOS attack

By Paul Roberts, IDG News Service
July 7, 2003 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service - A weekend competition to test the skills of malicious hackers fell apart after poor planning by contest organizers and infighting among different hacker groups crippled the Web site responsible for keeping score in the competition.
Contest organizers invited hackers to tamper with up to 6,000 Web sites. Points were awarded to hackers who could successfully compromise an organization's Web server and deface its Web pages, according to Internet Security Systems Inc. (ISS) (see story).
The international contest, known as the Defacers Challenge, was scheduled to begin Sunday. However, Zone-h, the Web site designated by contest organizers to keep score of the defacements, was quickly overwhelmed with traffic Sunday morning, according to a Zone-h statement. The Web site was inaccessible this afternoon.
The Tallinn, Estonia-based security portal, which is the most prominent site that tracks defacements, had no connection to the Defacers Challenge, and site organizers were dismayed to learn that Zone-h was designated as scorekeeper for the challenge, according to Roberto Preatoni, also known as "SyS64738," founder of Zone-h.org.
"Declaring Zone-h referee was the most stupid thing someone could think of," he said.
One of Zone-h's 50 operators personally confirms each recorded defacement. Zone-h could not have verified the flood of 20,000 to 30,000 defacements that were expected within the six-hour window specified by the contest organizers, Preatoni said.
Compounding Zone-h's problems, the site on Sunday fell victim to a massive distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attack that lasted from 10 a.m till 5 p.m. local time in Estonia, Zone-h said.
The attack, which downed Zone-h's Web site with 900Mbit/sec. of sustained traffic, came from a group of Brazilian hackers unhappy about the contest, Preatoni said.
"They told me that defacing is an art and that silly challenges must be boycotted," he said.
The hackers said that taking down the Zone-h Web site was the only way to thwart the contest organizers, Preatoni said.
The strategy worked. Defaced Web sites submitted to Zone-h for much of Sunday were not received by Zone-h operators and could not be verified, Preatoni said.
Despite the feuding and confusion, Zone-h received around 500 recorded defacements. An additional 400 or 500 were received today, but they had not yet been verified, Preatoni said.
As predicted by Preatoni and others, the list of compromised sites included few household names, but plenty of small Web sites in both the U.S. and abroad, such as www.thebuffrestaurant.com in Boulder, Colo., and www.ddwautomotive.com in Mishakawa, Ind.
The absence of larger sites was greeted with praise by some security companies.
"I think it's evidence that information sharing and awareness about an issue that was coming worked," said

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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