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Splinter Cell hack smells more like publicity stunt

Pwn or PR?

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Ubisoft said that the website of its popular video game Splinter Cell had been hacked on Thursday. However circumstantial evidence suggests the hack is more likely to be a publicity stunt than a genuine cyber assault.

Visitors to the Splinter Cell website are been greeted by a message in Russian. This is followed a bit.ly link buried in the message, which leads on to a page displaying the ASCII art of a shield with a double-headed eagle, also on the Splinter Cell site.

The arty effort looks more like an Easter Egg than the sort of things real cybercrooks typically spray on compromised sites, which usually include rants, abuse, political messages, greetings to other hackers and the like.

Ubisoft "confirmed" the Splinter Cell website had been "pwned" in a Twitter posting hours ago but is yet to take down the ostensible defaced site or do anything about the supposed hack. Security experts are doubtful that the attack is genuine, speculating that it's probably a hoax.

"If it is a publicity stunt it's probably not the wisest that there has ever been - a hoax like this can panic users into believing there is a genuine security problem, and panic can lead internet users to make bad decisions," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at anti-virus firm Sophos, in a blog post here.

Rik Ferguson of Trend Micro also expressed scepticism about whether a genuine attack had actually taken place in a Twitter update here. ®

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