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Computerworld

Attrition.org stops mirroring hacked Web sites

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By Sam Costello

(IDG) -- Attrition.org, the nonprofit Internet security site that has long hosted copies, or mirrors, of hacked Web pages, will no longer do so, the group announced Monday.

Attrition had been displaying Web site defacements, as well as security statistics and analysis about hacks, since 1995. In a statement on its Web site, the group said it will no longer mirror the defacements because keeping up with the volume and rate of hacks is too much work for unpaid hobbyists who have other jobs and interests.

"What began as a small collection of Web site defacement mirrors soon turned into a near 24/7 chore of keeping it up to date. In the last month, we have experienced single days of mirroring over 100 defaced web sites, over three times the total for 1995 and 1996 combined," Attrition said. Some days, dealing with the defacement mirror took as much as four or five hours.

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Additionally, Attrition members made the decision because "maintaining the mirror is becoming a thankless chore." The statement details abuse the group has received from Web site attackers and victims of defacements, some of which have even turned into denial-of-service attacks, which have resulted in network problems for Attrition's service provider, as well as the provider's other customers, Attrition said.

Though Attrition will no longer be hosting defacements, similar resources will continue to be available. Attrition is sharing defacement notices it receives with German defacement mirror site Alldas.

While Attrition will no longer mirror defacements, it will continue to offer a number of features on its site. The group will continue to perform security and statistical analysis, using Alldas's content, as well as offering more frequent updates of other parts of its site, including computer security how-to's, essays, commentary and reviews, the group said.

Analyst Pete Lindstrom at Hurwitz Group Inc. in Framingham, Mass., said he was unconcerned by Attrition.org's move. The attacks it documented tend to be fairly benign, he said, and are made only so people can get recognition. As a result, the change might actually be a good thing.

"It doesn't bother me at all," Lindstrom said. "The only reason for a lot of Web defacement these days is because of sites like this. These sites are all about ego, a little bit of recognition, their own little 15 minutes of fame."

Lindstrom predicted that other sites would probably fill the void, and said there don't seem to be any more defacements than usual.

But Frank Prince, senior analyst in e-business infrastructure at Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Mass., saw the Attrition decision differently. He said the move would deal a small, but important, blow to Internet security efforts. There's generally little openly available information about Internet security problems, something Attrition provided. Such information could be used to spot trends and identify other useful information, he said.

Though the site did provide good information and was checked semiregularly by a lot of people, Attrition's decision is unlikely to set back Internet security efforts greatly, Prince said. Security efforts and practices are generally slow to take hold because of economic factors, rather than a lack of information, he added.








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