Feeds

Blizzard of smut cuts off Council websites

From Wittering to ogling, and beyond

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

If you’re seeking smut, you only need go as far at present as the leafy green home pages of West Wittering Parish Council. Or there's Worcestershire County Council’s Healthy Schools Forum which, in an area dedicated to "internet safety", advises visitors on where to find "sexy escorts", before inviting them into a chat room to talk with "sexy girls".

This is not the latest bizarre outreach programme from local councils, seeking to reconnect with the sexually frustrated. Rather, it is the result of poor security, compounded by less than vigilant moderation.

Our story began at the weekend, when a diligent reader dropped a list of dodgy searches into our lap. Google for, say, "site:salford.gov.uk" and "porn", and you will turn up more than 1000 links to some fairly unsavoury content.

Who else? If you replace Salford with any of the following, you will get similar results: Lichfielddc (Lichfield District Council); Homecare (National Homecare Council); RCAHMS (Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments Scotland); Basildon Basildon District Council) and Communitylearningwest Worcestershire (Worcestershire County Council).

And then there is West Wittering Parish Council, which was, until yesterday, where you would find the website for the Parish Council of that name.

screen grab of wittering web site

The West Wittering PCC site before it was pulled

According to Paul Baccas, virus and spam researcher at SophosLabs, there may be two quite different processes going on here. In most cases – RCAHMS, possibly: Salford and Lichfield too - all that appears to be happening is a severe overdose of spam. Someone has identified an existing messageboard on the target site, and spam has followed through the hole in the fence, frequently containing links that would forward anyone who clicked onward to another URL.

Known as "link spamming", the purpose of this practice is to boost the search engine rating of the targeted content. That’s irritating, but easy enough to fix with a good dose of moderation.

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.