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Pro-Linux graffiti artist exploits 'weakest link'

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A Microsoft Web site has been defaced in the latest of a string of attacks that have called into question the ability of IT companies to keep their systems secure.

The software giant's Slovenian site, www.microsoft.si, was sprayed with pro-Linux graffiti by a hacker who gained control of the site, which is hosted in the former Yugoslavian country. In a reference to Mark Renton's famous speech at the beginning of the film Trainspotting, the site was changed to feature a tirade that equated choosing Microsoft software to being a moron.

The defacement by Furia.BR, which has now being changed but is still mirrored on Attrition.org, said in part: "Choose Windows. Choose the Millennium. Choose IIS. Choose SQL Server. Choose not to choose. Let Micro$oft do it for you. Choose Windows. Choose 95. Choose IIS. Choose a big NT workstation. Choose VB, IE, ActiveX players and electrical tin openers... Choose a future. Choose Micro$oft.

"But why would I want to do a thing like that? I choose not to be chosen: I choose something else. The reasons? There are too many reasons. And who needs reasons when you've got Linux?"

Matt Tomlinson, business development director at security consultancy MIS, said the graffiti attack was unlikely to have threatened Microsoft's core systems, as an attack earlier this year did, but demonstrated a weak security policy was still in place in Redmond.

"Customer information or any research and development was unlikely to be threatened by this attack. However it is a demonstration of naivety by Microsoft, which has trusted a cut-cost local hosting firm with its security," said Tomlinson, who added the attack likely exploited a badly-configured Microsoft IIS webserver, which was not properly protected behind a firewall.

Tomlinson added there was a growing trend for hackers and graffiti artists to target the remote offices of global companies for attack. Security firm Network Associates' Brazilian site was also recently subject to a similar attack on two of its Brazilian sites, www.nai.com.br and www.mcafee.com.br.

These attacks have in common that they attack servers at local hosting companies, which Tomlinson described as the "weakest links" in the corporate security chain. ®

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