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The popular phpBB forum has been taken offline after hackers cracked into its server and defaced its website yesterday. The open source project's website was attacked using a vulnerability in a package called AWStats announced 17 January. The same exploit has also been used to attack several popular weblogs in recent days, Netcraft reports.

phpBB is a popular bulletin board package, with more than 150,000 registered members on its forum. The attack on the phpBB forum saw its website replaced by an image of that face of US President George Bush grafted onto the body of a baby monkey. It's unclear why defacer simiens picked the forum for attack. The phpBB forum runs off a single server, which is undergoing analysis. This has left phpBB's development team temporarily unable to use the project's primary server.

phpBB intends to recover its database from the server and rebuild its website, but this will take time. It hopes to have its website back to something close to normal operation by later today (8 February) or at least the end of the week.

In the meantime, users in need of support with phpBB 2.0.x can visit a development board, area51.phpbb.com. An IRC support channel, #phpbb on the irc.freenode.net network, is also available. A holding page on the phpBB forum's web site provides updates on the site's progress back to normal operations.

phpBB has been a target for attack before. In December 2004 malware authors created a worm that attacked web servers running the popular phpBB discussion forum software to deface vulnerable systems. The Santy worm hit thousands of sites. ®

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