Hacker Backers Disrupt Newspaper Web Sites Michael Stroh Monday, January 11, 1999 URL: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/1999/01/11/BU16458.DTL Some Web surfers logging onto the Baltimore Sun's Web site Friday got a surprise: Instead of the day's headlines, they saw only a stark black-and-white Web page with a bizarre letter that began: ``Kevin Freed by Cows.'' SunSpot and a handful of other Web sites fell victim to computer hackers conducting a campaign to free master hacker Kevin Mitnick. While the incident caused no permanent damage -- the Sun site was available within two hours -- it did cause several bewildered readers to call, asking what had happened. Bob London of Intermedia Business Internet, the Beltsville, Md., Internet service provider whose computers host SunSpot, confirmed that its computers were penetrated about 9:30 a.m. EDT. The security breech, he said, was repaired by 11:07 a.m. Two tabloids who use Intermedia -- the National Enquirer and the Star -- also were affected. Intermedia officials said a ``limited number'' of their 2,500 business customers were affected, including some nonmedia sites. While it's unclear who was behind this particular break-in, the strange message contained references to Mitnick, a figure in the hacker community once listed by the FBI as the world's most wanted computer criminal. Since 1995, Mitnick has been jailed in Los Angeles, awaiting trial on computer-related fraud charges. (He has two previous convictions for similar crimes.) His trial had been scheduled to begin this month but was recently postponed until April, a move that has caused grumbling on Web sites dedicated to him. Computer security experts say Mitnick's long imprisonment without a trial has inspired many Web site attacks by young acolytes trying to bring attention to his cause. ``We see 150 to 200 Web page hacks a week that have to do with Kevin Mitnick,'' said John Vranesevich, founder of AntiOnline, an organization in Beaver, Pa., that aims to educate the public about hackers. [JP and Antionline claim to want to educate the media, then make such claims? 'hacked.net' was probably the LARGEST archive of web hacks, and the central place where hackers would report their latest attacks, was getting no more than 50 a week. Of those, less than half mentioned Mitnick as I recall.] Most of these attacks involve small, mom-and-pop Web sites, Vranesevich said. Sometimes, however, hackers attempt to topple bigger game. In September, for example, the New York Times was forced to close its Web site for nine hours after hackers who claimed to support Mitnick broke in and vandalized the paper's home page.