Several UK local and central government websites were hacked over the weekend. Their front pages were replaced with a profanity-rich bragathon by hacker group Pentaguard. It's not known why the sites were chosen, but it appears their security was lax.
By 10:30 am this morning several of the hacked sites were still displaying the replacement front page. One of the sites, Swindon's local government site www.swindon.gov.uk, was hacked twice and was still showing the second hacker's front page by lunchtime.
The only national-level site to have been affected so far by Pentaguard was the Ministry of Agriculture's (Maff) site for information about mad cow disease, www.bseinquiry.gov.uk.
"They defaced some of the front pages," said a spokeswoman for Maff. "Those pages should already be back up and running [as of 1:30 pm]." But at that time the site was still showing the offending page.
Maff said its IT people would be looking at how the site is configured, and "maybe be managing it differently to help stop this. But it's impossible to stop it completely".
The spokeswoman revealed IT workers responsible for the site didn't know how the hackers had broken in, or why the sites had been picked.
Other sites affected were Dumfries & Galloway Council, Kingston upon Hull City Council, Swindon Borough Council, the Signposts to Learning in Leisure site of Hampshire County Council and Surrey's Curriculum & Management Consultancy site.
Kevin Troup, analyst, information services, Dumfries & Galloway Council said in a statement:
"We are currently in the process of removing the offending page from the site. Www.dgc.dumgal.gov.uk was an old domain which [was] no longer used. We are currently in the process of decommissioning the web server where this address was hosted. Our official website, www.dumgal.gov.uk, has been untouched by the hacker."