Main Web Site Hackers Are Schoolboys, Watchdog Says

LONDON (Reuters) - Attacks on company and government Internet sites spike during school holidays when the main culprits -- schoolboys -- spend time in front of their computers rather than in the classroom.

There were almost 400,000 attacks on Web sites around the world last year, a surge of 36 percent from 2003, said a report issued by Internet watchdog agency Zone-H to coincide with a London information security exhibition.

"A lot of 15- and 16-year-old guys are smart enough to have strong political opinions," Roberto Preatoni, Zone-H founder, told Reuters Monday.

The main targets are U.S. military Web sites, which are attacked by anti-Iraq war protesters, and large companies and governments, which attract anti-globalization protesters.

Preatoni said the tools needed to hack into and change Web sites were available on the Internet and were easy to use.

"For the average person it sounds complicated but if you know what you are doing it's really quite easy," he said. "Almost anyone with a bit of practice can take down or deface a web site."

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.

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