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Hackers Plant Porn Links on UA Servers

Two departments of University of Arizona discovered on January 25, 2007 that hackers flooded their servers with links directing users to a large number of porn websites.

After the incident, UA officials launched an investigation, according to Michele Norin, executive director for UA's Center for Computing and Information Technology in a statement that Tucsoncitizen published on January 25, 2007.

The intrusion affected compute servers of only the department of philosophy and the LBT (Large Binocular Telescope) Observatory, divulged Jim Slagle, LBT's project manager in a statement that The Wildcat Online published on January 29, 2007. Slagle continued that hackers had knowledge of a vulnerable spot on the servers of the two UA departments, which they abused. But the incident neither caused any harm to the server nor did it interfere with the daily work at LBT.

On January 25, 2007 campus officials were still unable to say when the hackers succeeded to plant the links or who they were. However, the officials suspect involvement of an external user in operating through the UA systems to post the links.

An LBT employee discovered the links to the pornographic websites when he was changing to a recent version of PC software to make protection arrangements for the server against hackers.

Slagle said it was possible for hackers to find about the server software's weak version by searching on Google.

UA is not the only institution that had to deal such a situation. A Google hunt of .edu sites shows hits giving comments of similar hacks into other campus websites.

Though it is not clear at the moment what or how things went wrong at UA, but spammers often include comments carrying links to other sites in attempts to increase the chances of appearance of their own sites in the search engine. For, search engines like Google list their results partly on the basis of the number of external sites liking to a web page.

UA has often been the target of hackers who try to use others' servers to store criminal data, to illicitly download movie and audio items, other copyrighted content, illegal copies of software etc.

Related article: Hackers Redirect Windows Live Search to Malicious Sites

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