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Traumatic scenes for car geeks as forum falls over

Man made cake, spoke to wife

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There were fears of further outbreaks of violence on the streets yesterday when the UK's busiest motoring forum site, PistonHeads.com, disappeared offline.

Desperate car geeks were forced to work, make a Victoria sponge and even talk to the wives, or so they claimed once the forum was back up and running.

The Reg was contacted by a worried reader, and PistonHeads fan, who had seen a posting on a hackers' forum claiming to have pinched the site's user database.

But an insider at the site assured us customer data was safe, although techies were still going through the final lines of the logs.

Our source explained the site had been contacted by a "white hat" – a hacker who offered to share vulnerabilities in exchange for a small fee. The two co-operated to close holes.

He said: "We've learnt the hard way to be honest with people. We have a very technical readership and the site was started by an IT consultant who drove a TVR – back when all IT consultants drove TVRs."

It is believed the post in the hackers' forum was put up by an associate of the white hat hacker and was subsequently removed.

Our source said final checks were being made but that the site was 99 per cent sure that nothing sensitive had gone: the downing of the site was treated as a possible hack only as a precaution.

The site's transactions are dealt with by WorldPay, so no card details are stored. All passwords for the forum are encrypted and the site collects limited other information about forum posters.

The site is back up and running now, although some users are complaining it is slower than usual.

PistonHeads is here, and the thread explaining the downtime is here. ®

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