Kiwiflatmates hackers shut out overnight

Web protesters who have hacked into the kiwiflatmates.com site twice in the past 24 hours appear to have been shut out for now.

Web protesters who have hacked into the kiwiflatmates.com site twice in the past 24 hours appear to have been shut out for now.

Kiwiflatmates.com is a "big brother" style promotion in which five young people are living under the eye of Webcams in a luxurious Auckland house.

For four days until yesterday, a person or group called K1w1 W3b had been offering free access, via a Geocities site, to streams from Webcams in parts of the house which the kiwiflatmates promoters had restricted to users who had paid the $US20 membership fee.

Kiwiflatmates.com spokesperson Michele Camilleri said yesterday that the hacker or hackers had exploited a "10-minute window" when the site's streaming server was being changed.

The unauthorised access to the Webcams was blocked yesterday but restored during the evening. Kiwiflatmates.com was finally able to prevent access to the members-only areas - including the spa room and female participants' bedrooms - some time overnight. The Geocities site now offers only access to the free Webcams, where there is cursory password protection.

The original press statement from the hackers complained about the $US20 monthly membership fee, the lax security and the "unoriginal, badly executed" nature of the site.

But last night David Christoff, who says he is a spokesman for K1w1 W3b, said "exposing of the security hole and this site in particular were not of major interest us, it is merely a useful means to get across some of our thoughts on the unfair biases evident in the media and business circles with regards to new media."

"We," according to Christoff, is "a group of individuals who work in the NZ IT industry in a variety of positions who believe that too much media attention is focused on the traditional business pretty boys - the Eric Watsons and the large institutions.

"Too many of the old players are merely copying existing new media business plans from overseas - eg, FlyingPig's copying of Amazon.com - and badly, unoriginally implementing them. With great surprise they are finding they are failing, take today's announcement that Eric Watson is looking to get out of FlyingPig. Meanwhile truly original efforts by less well known New Zealanders are being ignored by the media and struggling to find capital because the tired plans of the aforementioned are taking it all."

Camilleri said the Kiwiflatmates idea had been that of promoter Colin Stephenson. She said the site had had to make certain rooms mmebers-only "because they're R18 sites - it's to keep people under 18 out of the bedroom and the spa pool. I don't think that Colin is going to make a whole lot of money from membership."

Camilleri said the promoters had been astonished to find out yesterday that there was no law to protect them from the hacking. She said Christoff was entitled to his point of view "but he's certainly not entitled to hack into our site. The police have said to us that we can take a civil case against him but I don't know whether we would bother."

She said the site has had more than a million "hits" since it launched last Thursday, with 65% of the traffic domestic and the remainder from overseas, "with a high percentage from Asia."

A search for "K1w1 W3b" turned up no results yesterday, but David Christoff, who posted to IDGNet and others from the address kiwiflatmates@freemail.com.au, has an empty directory listed against his name on the Ihug Australia homepages server.

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