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160+ UK Web sites defaced over petrol tax

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A protester identifying himself as 'Herbless' defaced 168 corporate Web sites Friday with a message urging public support for demonstrators standing up against high fuel taxes in the UK.

"Our government has now started to spread FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) propaganda through the media in the hope that they can dispel puplic [sic] support for the protest that is taking place all around Britain," Herbless said.

He notes that 72 per cent of the price of petrol in the UK is tax, that production costs are one of the cheapest in Europe, though retail prices are the highest in Europe.

He also takes issue with media reports and government statements painting the protests as obstructive. "Despite the fact that there are no blockades, tankers will not leave the distribution centres. This has led to wide-spread speculation that the policy not to deliver petrol is in fact being handed down from the petrol companies," he said.

The message closes with an appeal for public support of those on the front lines. "If you live near a picket line, go and give your support. Applaud the lorry drivers. Make cups of tea and sandwiches for the picketers. Write to your MP pledging your support," he urged.

The final note, "Admin: Learn how to change passwords. Hint: SQL server doesn't just do SQL," suggests that Herbless probably scanned a large number of sites for installations of the MS SQL server with default passwords in place. Administrators are supposed to change the password before going live, but apparently there are a vast number maintaining commercial sites who can't understand the documentation. Perhaps reading tests ought to become a standard part of the recruitment process.

Herbless easily exploited such sites as specsavers.com, jobs.co.uk, itforhire.co.uk, travelfocus.co.uk, brandimage.co.uk, and many others in this attack. He defaced nine government Web sites last month and the Legoland.co.uk site last week. ®

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