Feeds

Blizzard of smut cuts off Council websites

From Wittering to ogling, and beyond

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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.

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Spies, avert eyes! Tim Berners-Lee demands a UK digital bill of rights
Lobbies tetchy MPs 'to end indiscriminate online surveillance'
How the FLAC do I tell MP3s from lossless audio?
Can you hear the difference? Can anyone?
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.