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The Web Site Defacement Scenario

On September 20, 2001, a story on Yahoo! News reported that the Russian software programmer Dmitry Sklyarov, who stands accused of violating U.S. copyright law, faced the death penalty if convicted.

Of course, the news item was false.

The defacement of the Yahoo! news story was the work of a hacker named Adrian Lamo who, through SecurityFocus.com, brought the hack to the attention of Yahoo!. Lamo said he performed the hack to demonstrate Yahoo!'s security lapses, according to the SecurityFocus report. In response, a Yahoo! representative said the web portal would take "appropriate steps to block unauthorized access" to its production tools.

Lamo told SecurityFocus that he'd been able to change Yahoo! News stories over the course of three weeks and that he had changed other stories in addition to the Sklyarov story.

But this was just the latest attack on online news organizations. Previous incidents include the defacement of the New York Times web site and an attack a year ago on the Orange County Register's web site.

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