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Hacktivist edits on-line newspaper

And we see a handy libel defence

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A hacktivist going by the alias 'Exiled Dave' broke into on-line newspaper the Orange County Register last week and edited several stories, one of which said that Microsoft founder Bill Gates had been arrested for hacking into "hundreds, maybe thousands" of systems, according to an article by Adam Pennenberg for Inside.com. The altered OC Register article had originally detailed the arrest of suspected cracker Jason Diekman of Mission Viejo, California.

According to the intruder's edited version, Gates, not Diekman, is facing charges of breaking into NASA computers, illegally obtaining credit card numbers, and credit card fraud.

Pennenberg, who resigned from Forbes Magazine after being pressured by the US Department of Justice to cough up information related a story he'd done on two lads claiming to have disabled the New York Times Web site in 1998, notes that this is the first known case of an intruder altering the text of news stories from an on-line paper, or a "subversion of information attack," as he calls it.

The potential of such attacks to provide a handy defence against libel suits is far from lost on this Register. We're cobbling up a few spoofed hack-logs now, just in case.... ®

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