Web Site Defacements Down Sharply After Sept. 11

by Steve Gold, © 2001 The Washington Post Company

Thursday, 3rd January 2002 - Global Web site defacements were significantly down during September, although the effect was only temporary, new research indicates.

A report from security consultancy group mi2g shows that just 815 Web site defacements occurred during September 2001, down from the year's monthly high of 3,853 in May.

In August, there were 2,756 site defacements, while during October - the month after the terrorist incidents - defacements soared back up to 2,700. In November, defacements fell back to 1,632, rising back up to 3,038 during December.

A member of mi2g's intelligence unit, told Newsbytes that the temporary lull in site defacements might be due to such factors as publicity surrounding anti-terrorism legislation, and because the information technology security business has "grown up" in the aftermath of Sept. 11.

But things now appear to be back to normal on the Web site defacement front; mi2g recorded numerous defacements after Christmas - 137 of them on Dec. 28, 148 on Dec. 29, and 163 on Dec. 30.

On Dec. 31, defacements fell away to 35, but rose to 79 on New Year's Day.

Sites powered by Microsoft server software appear to have taken the brunt of the strikes during 2001. mi2g says that 63 percent of all Web site defacements were on Windows IIS/PWS servers. Linux/Apache systems, meanwhile, accounted for 18 percent of defacements.

Netcraft, the Web site analysis firm (http://www.netcraft.com ), has reported that show only 26 percent of the World's Web sites running Microsoft software, compared to 63 percent running Apache.

The long-term trend of Web site defacements is rising steadily, mi2g said, with the number of Web sites defaced globally jumping from 7,629 in 2000 to 30,388 in 2001 - a fourfold increase. Since 1999, mi2g's research shows that defacements have risen sevenfold.

He said his firm has been compiling its research since 1996, using a combination of consultants scanning the Web and interviewing IT security professionals.

"We also have our own database, which is updated with information our systems compile from continuously scanning the Web," he said.

mi2g's Web site is at http://www.mi2g.com .

Reported by Newsbytes.com, http://www.newsbytes.com .

(20020103/Press Contact: Intelligence Unit, mi2g software Ltd +44 20 7924 3010 /WIRES TOP, ONLINE, BUSINESS/CYBERSTRIKE/PHOTO)

© 2001 The Washington Post Company

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