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Thursday, May 26, 2005
  Hacking as a Public Service
Vigilante hackers use Old West tactics for cyberspace justice - Yahoo! UK & Ireland News: "WASHINGTON (AFP) - Angered by the growing number of Internet scams, online 'vigilantes' have started to take justice into their own hands by hacking into suspected fraud sites and defacing them.
These hackers have targeted fake websites set up to resemble the sites of banks or financial institutions in recent weeks, and have inserted new pages or messages. Some say 'Warning - This was a Scam Site,' or 'This Bank Was Fraudulent and Is Now Removed.'
The efforts by the self-proclaimed 'hero hackers' come amid a surge in online schemes known as 'phishing' in which victims are lured to fake websites to get passwords or other personal data.

The British security firm Netcraft was among the first to pick up the hacking activity, discovering hacked sites that were set up to steal passwords from customers of the US Web payment site Paypal and NatWest Bank in Britain.

'While phishing is undoubtedly an illegal activity, the legality of defacing phishing sites is also quite questionable, but in cases observed by Netcraft so far it is reasonable to assume that only the fraudsters themselves have been disadvantaged,' the security firm said.

Some of the hackers are boastful.

'We only deface fake banks. Nothing else. Our targets are illegals and hosts that don't take down illegal sites,' said a message posted on the website SecurityFocus by the purported 'white-hat' British hacker group called The Lad Wrecking Crew.

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