AS hacking increases, a Web site gives up tracking them


Wednesday, May 23rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6



NEW YORK (AP) _ A Web site that has cataloged incidents of online vandalism since 1995 will no longer update its records, as volunteers for the site complain that what started as a hobby has become ``a thankless chore.''

Workers at Attrition.org said they have sometimes had to mirror, or archive, more than 100 defaced Web sites in a day _ or more than four times the total for 1995 and 1996 combined.

``With the rapid increase in Web defacement activity, there are times when it requires one of us to take mirrors for four or five hours straight to catch up,'' the group said this week in a statement written primarily by Brian Martin, known online as ``Jericho.''

``A 'hobby' is supposed to be enjoyable,'' the group added. ``Maintaining the mirror is becoming a thankless chore.''

Although Attrition has a variety of features, including reviews on cheap wine, calamari and handguns, it is best known for its archives of hacked pages. With more than 15,000 items, Attrition has one of the Net's most extensive collections. The site also keeps statistics, issues security alerts and analyzes hacking groups.

Attrition will keep its archives, but it won't add pages. Its seven volunteers hope to devote more time to the site's other features.

``We'll continue to provide the community with the quality content it's come to expect, just in a different package,'' Attrition volunteers said.

Attrition reported five defacements in 1995 and 20 in 1996, increasing to 5,822 last year and 5,315 so far this year. The list is by no means complete, as Attrition counts only the incidents reported to the site, sometimes by the hackers themselves.

Attrition has been credited with helping raise awareness about security threats, by exposing real hacking attacks. But the site also has its critics.

Russ Cooper, editor of the NTBugtraq mailing list on security, believed the attention Attrition gave to hacking only encouraged more incidents.

``Because it gave a place for the media and everyone else to get easy access to defacements,'' Cooper said, ``it was like a feeding frenzy.''

Attrition cited the criticisms as one factor in its decision. Its volunteers complained that they were sometimes treated like criminals and blamed for the attacks they had merely catalogued.

``The abuse and ignorance we deal with from defacers and defacement victims (are) staggering, and some of that abuse spills over into actual attacks,'' the group's statement said. ``Attrition has been taken down more than once.''