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June 2nd, 2008

Phoenix Mars Lander Website Defaced By Script Kiddies

Security pros had to take down the University of Arizona-hosted site after script kiddies replaced the lead blog entry with a message “hacked by VITAL.” The hackers redirected visitors of the Phoenix mission’s official web page and a companion site to a third-party destination. That page gave credit to hackers going by the names BLaSTER and Cr@zy_king.

A spokeswoman for the Phoenix Mars Lander mission says a hacker took over the mission’s public website and changed its lead news story with a hacker’s signature and a link redirecting visitors to an overseas website. The site hosted by the University of Arizona has been taken off line while computer experts work to correct the problem.

Over the past few months, millions of websites, some belonging to the US Department of Homeland Security, the United Nations and the UK Civil Service, have been hit by similar exploits. The attacks aren’t the result of vulnerabilities in the database or web services software provided by Microsoft, Apache and others, but rather in the custom-made web applications.

There are no reports that redirected visitors in this latest episode were exposed to links that attempted to silently install malware on their machines. The Phoenix Mars Lander mission’s security staff have already fixed the defacement.

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