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The government saw several of its e-government Web sites hacked last night, leaving a bit of mess for it to clean up this morning.

Govtalk.gov.uk was the hackers' main target as in particularly embarrassing because that it is the site used by e-envoy Andrew Pinder to discuss within government how to bring about the e-revolution. A graphic from PoizonBOx was left instead. Others affected included Nas.gov.uk (the National Archives of Scotland) and several local government sites.

Most sites are up and running as usual now.

Surprisingly, the government and e-envoy's office isn't keen to discuss the matter and would not comment on whether this was indicative of its e-efforts. Unsurprisingly, the servers appeared to have been running on that hacker's favourite, Windows IIS.

Our only question (apart from: when will this e-gov thing happen again?) is whether the government will use this as an opportunity to use its freshly stamped powers. The Terrorist Act which came into affect just last month, makes the disruption of computer systems equivalent to blowing up innocent citizens on a plane.

Will friend of the people Jack Straw get the anti-terrorist branch on these evil hackers? Or will he simply improve his Internet security?

Paul Rogers, a network security analyst at MIS Corporate Defence, said many of the sites attacked had properly configured firewalls and attacks on them were possible because security on the servers behind perimeter defences was lax.

"If your host is not secure and has the latest patches for IIS installed on it then your Web site is going to be vulnerable. You're only as secure as your weakest link," said Rogers, who added that both hosted and outsourced Web sites were targeted in the attacks.

The defacements by PoizonB0x have been mirrored by defacement archive Alldas.de and can be seen here. ®

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