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Philip Willan, IDG News Service
Tuesday, January 15, 2002

ROME -- Italian police have identified six members of a hacker group
charged with attacking thousands of Web sites in 62 countries,
replacing official home pages with anti-globalization slogans, finance
police officials said Tuesday. The group is one of the most important
to be discovered in terms of the number and significance of its
targets, officials said.

The hackers, all students between the ages of 15 and 23, began their
attacks last July during the G8 summit in Genoa, which led to
anti-globalization demonstrations. Hackers placed the slogan "Hi-Tech
Hate" on Web sites, police said. However, the attacks did not cause
much monetary damage, so the hackers are not expected to be severely

In the United States, hacked sites included those of the Pentagon, the
U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, courts, and
numerous universities including Harvard University, Columbia
University, and Cornell University, police said.
The group also attacked government Web sites in Europe and South
America, the finance police said in a statement. The
Anti-Technological Crime Unit of the finance police handled the

Prolific Vandalism 

In Italy the group hacked sites of the health and defense ministries,
the Senate, media organizations, the Internet provider Italia On Line,
the Left Democrats Party, and pop singer Claudio Baglioni.

The investigation began in August, when the crime unit became aware of
an attempt to penetrate the Web site of MB Service Srl, an Italian
software company, police said. Investigators followed the trail to a
Hi-Tech Hate hacker and subsequently tracked down the other five. The
students lived in different parts of Italy and kept in contact via the
Internet, investigators said.

"This was one of the most prolific hacker groups ever seen in terms of
the number of its attacks. They were very expert," Giancarlo Samele, a
member of the Anti-Technological Crime Unit, said in an interview. "We
don't have an estimate of the financial damage caused, but it should
not be very high. These were not really malicious attacks."

The hackers are likely to escape with suspended prison sentences
because they have no previous convictions and their attacks did not
cause serious damage, Gianluigi Chiapponi, the Ravenna prosecutor
coordinating the case, said at a press conference.


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