Hackers catch World Cup fever

© 2002 BBC

Friday, 23rd August 2002 [Excerpt] - Brazil's triumph in the football World Cup may have spurred the country's hackers to emulate the success in cyber-space. Brazilian hackers are now the most prolific in the world, taking over from Eastern European groups which dominated cyber-attacks in the 1990s, according to security firm mi2g. There appears to be no political motivation for activities of the hackers, said mi2g. Instead they seem to have been inspired by World Cup fever and the intellectual challenge of breaking into sites.

Successful attacks

In its study on web attacks in July, mi2g found that Italian websites have borne the brunt of the attacks. Websites with the suffix .it (Italy) suffered 514 digital attacks last month, second only to .com sites, which were attacked 1,600 times. The majority of the attacks against Italian websites originated from a three-member Brazilian hacker group dubbed hax0rs lab.

In one day in August, they successfully attacked 838 sites, bringing the total of digital attacks that day to 1120. According to mi2g, this is the largest number of attacks to take place in a single day. The prolific count was due to the fact that they gained access to a German internet service provider which was hosting the majority of the sites they attacked.

Just for fun

According to mi2g, the Brazilian hackers appeared to have been spurred on by the country's victory in the World Cup. "It would seem to be about bravado," said mi2g Chief Executive DK Matai. "It could be more than coincidence that the month following World Cup victory Brazilian hackers are so active. It might be that they've thought we won the World Cup and we can also prove we can do a fair amount of hacking too," he said. The fact that Brazil has a sizeable software industry but is still fairly crime-ridden also cannot be underestimated. "Brazil has a very well developed IT software capability and software outsourcing industry which European and US companies utilise. At the same time, Brazilian society has a fairly high level of crime which inevitably spills into cyberspace," he said.

Tight legislation in the US and the EU make countries outside of that domain more attractive to hackers, he added.

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