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Iranian activists deface UK genetics website

1953 and all that

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The UK's Human Genetics Commission website was hit by politically-motivated hackers on Tuesday, who defaced the site with a protest marking a Western plot to overthrow a post-WWII democratically elected leader in Iran.

Dr Mohammed Mossadegh nationalised Iran's petroleum industry before a plot backed by the UK and the US led to his overthrow back in 1953. Quite why the Sun Army defaced the Human Genetics Commission website with digital graffiti is not immediately clear, but Jason Hart - senior European VP of CryptoCard, the security firm that brought the hack to our attention - said that in "order to deface the site they [the hackers] would have had to get admin access".

Iran is something of a hotbed for politically-motivated hack attacks. The Iranian Cyber Army mounted a series of DNS hijacking attacks against first Twitter and later Chinese search engine Baidu in December 2009 and January. The attacks both resulted in the redirection of surfers.

Baidu is suing US-based domain registrar Register.com (no relation) for alleged negligence in facilitating the attacks.

Following the attack, the Human Genetics Commission website was restored to normal operation by Wednesday afternoon. The organisation has thus been able to return to its normal business of advising the UK government on the ethical implications and possible social effects of advances in genetics, such as genetic testing, cloning and stem cell research. ®

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