Personal tools

Hackstory Twitter Hackstory Facebook

Ataque a la World Trade Organisation

From Hack Story

Jump to: navigation, search
Staff Zap (Under Construction)black.jpg

Fri 9 Feb 2001

The technicians at the World Trade Organisation got a bit suspicious when "journalists" in an online press conference went by screen names like "NO-TO-WTO".

Still, WTO Director-General Mike Moore gamely answered all questions thrown at him - until he was knocked off-line by anti-globalisation protesters with excellent computer skills.

This week, similarly motivated "hacktivists" grabbed headlines, announcing they'd collected credit card and other personal data on some 1,400 business and political leaders by breaking into the database of last month's World Economic Forum.

Increasingly, social activists have turned to hacking to make their point, breaking into computer systems and wreaking havoc on organisations they oppose.

The Internet has turned out to be a remarkable tool for non-violent protest on a scale activists could only dream of before.

The term "hacktivist" was first applied to supporters of the Zapatista rebels in Mexico's southern state of Chiapas, who have sabotaged Mexican government Web sites since 1998 and held "virtual sit-ins" designed to overload servers.

More recently, the tactic has been used in Serbia, Pakistan and India - and by both Palestinians and Israelis in the Middle East.

In one case, Palestinian sympathisers broke into a web site operated by a pro-Israel lobbying group in the United States, stealing credit card information and e-mail addresses.

The theft of private data is a relatively new tactic, however, that goes beyond defacing web sites and electronic bombardment of servers.

Anti-globalist protesters contend the WTO's trade treaties benefit big corporations and rich countries at the expense of the environment and workers.

They consider the World Economic Forum, which holds its high-profile annual meetings in the Swiss resort of Davos, to epitomise the elitist dealmaking they oppose.

Protesters who showed up in person were largely stymied by a heavy police presence at last month's Davos meeting. Online, however, they effectively surmounted physical barriers.

The net "is another frontier for people to engage in these types of activities", said Joel Scambray, a security analyst at Foundstone Inc.

The attacks against forum organisers showed just how far hacktivists could reach: They obtained the travel itineraries, including flight numbers, of politicians from around the world, and published them on the web.

"This poses operational security problems, (and) goes beyond what we've seen before," said Kent Anderson, vice-president of computer security with the London-based Control Risks Group.

Almost every major corporation and organisation has been hit at one time or another by hacking, with McDonald's, Starbucks and the WTO favourite targets of hacktivists.

During the WTO's last major meeting, in Seattle in December 1999, the organisation faced attempts to shut down its system.

"There were millions of bits of spam thrown at us, but we had a good defence which bounced these right back, said WTO spokesman Keith Rockwell, using the term for junk e-mail.

People are still being misled by a copycat web site that uses the WTO's old name - GATT - and looks nearly identical to the real WTO site.

"It is really quite clever and quite funny. But it is less funny when people believe it, as has been the case, and go to a lot of trouble and then are deceived," said Rockwell.

The newly malicious nature of some of the hacktivism troubles some, however.

The editor of the Toronto-based online magazine The Hacktivist, who goes by the pseudonym metac0m, said the "theft of personal info, credit cards and the like bothers me, for it discredits the legitimacy of hacktivism as a form of protest and civil disobedience".

"I would rather that those who engage in the cracking of databases access the documents being crafted completely out of public view and scrutiny,"' he said in an e-mail interview.

Metac0m credits more effective hacktivists with the downfall of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's Multilateral Agreement on Investment in 1998.

"When activists ... posted it on the Internet it was a huge victory because the public saw what was in that agreement, realised it was not in their interest, that they had no input into it, and hence they rejected it."


Friday, February 16, 2001

ZURICH: Police have threatened to raid the offices of a Swiss newspaper that published confidential information on top political and business leaders obtained from anti-globalisation computer hackers, the paper said Thursday.

Andreas Durisch, editor-in-chief of the SonntagsZeitung newspaper (, said Geneva prosecutors had warned they would issue a formal search warrant for the paper's Zurich headquarters.

He said this followed the newspaper's refusal to hand over a CD-ROM obtained from the hackers, who gained access to data on 27,000 prominent figures linked to the World Economic Forum.

Officials were not immediately available for comment.

Durisch said the newspaper would resist the demands to release the information.

"For us, the top priority is to give 100% protection to our sources, Durisch said.

The hackers discovered former US President Bill Clinton's forum password and actor Dustin Hoffman's e-mail address, said the newspaper, which did not print the confidential numbers.

It said other stolen information included Microsoft chairman Bill Gates' e-mail address, founder Jeff Bezos' telephone number and a credit card number of Pepsi-Cola chief executive Peter M. Thompson.

The hackers, calling themselves the Virtual Monkeywrench group, said the information was easy to obtain.

The Geneva-based World Economic Forum has accused SonntagsZeitung of "trafficking in stolen material and filed a legal complaint with Geneva prosecutors.


By The Associated Press Special to CNET February 23, 2001, 11:10 a.m. PT

GENEVA--Swiss police arrested a man Friday on suspicion of hacking into the computer systems of the World Economic Forum and stealing private information about participants.

Geneva police said the man is a 20-year-old Swiss citizen and a part-time computer consultant. He was arrested in Bern, the Swiss capital.

Police said he will be charged with data theft, unauthorized entry into a computer system, damage to property and misuse of credit cards. If found guilty, he faces up to five years in prison or a fine.

No further details would be released, police said. They did not release the name of the suspect.

It was not clear whether the hacker worked alone or had been part of a team. A shadowy group of anti-globalization hackers calling themselves "Virtual Monkeywrench had claimed responsibility for the attack.

The hacker or hackers obtained personal information about government and business leaders who have attended the summit in the Swiss ski resort of Davos in recent years.

The hacker passed a CD-ROM containing stolen data from the Forum's systems to the weekly SonntagsZeitung, which published details on Feb. 4. The newspaper reported that it included the numbers of credit cards, passports and personal cell phones belonging to political and business leaders including former President Clinton, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and South African President Thabo Mbeki.

The newspaper said the hacker obtained information about 27,000 leading politicians, chief executives of major corporations and top managers who have taken part in the forum.

The World Economic Forum, the Geneva-based foundation that organizes the Davos summits, made a complaint to authorities in early February. - La historia nunca contada del underground hacker en la Península Ibérica.