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FBI condemns vigilante hacking

It's a felony, folks!

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The FBI has issued a condemnation of "vigilante" hacker activity after the formation of a group dedicated to waging electronic warfare against countries they believe support terrorism.

The Dispatchers, which includes more than 60 hackers and corporate defacers in its ranks, plans to disable to computer communications of states they associate with last week's attacks on America, including Palestine and Afghanistan.

This morning the group defaced the Web site of Iran's Interior Ministry with a summary of their manifesto and an image of the head of Osama bin Laden atop a mushroom cloud explosion with two guns to his head. The Web site of the Taleban's UN mission has been repeatedly defaced along similar lines over the last week.

In an email interview with The Register, Mistah Hackah Jak of The Dispatches said the group would target Palestinian ISPs and Web servers in Afghanistan with a variety of attacks. Taking control of insecure servers, defacement and distributed denial of service attack would all be brought in to play, he told us.

Members of the digital underground are split on their response the horrendous loss of life in last week's terrorist attacks. Respected white hat hackers, Chaos Computer Club, has condemned the destruction of Web sites and communication systems in Islamic countries as counterproductive, because it will breed ignorance during a tense international situation.

The FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center has issued a statement saying that, whatever their "patriotic" motives, incidents of hacking activity would be treated as a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.

It also has warned of the likely increased hacking activity in general, including the renaming of old viruses to chime in with recent events.

"One such incident has already been reported in which a new version of the life_stages.txt.shs virus was renamed wtc.txt.vbs to appear to be related to the World Trade Center," the FBI notice, which advised users to batten down their security hatches, said. ®

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