Anti-Bush defacement strikes Australian government website

Hacked with a 'fetching' description of President Bush and support for Martha Stewart

An overtly political attack on a federal government employees' website — with a medieval take on US President George Bush — is the latest defacement victim.

The website, which serves output from the human resources systems of the Australian Public Service (APS), shows a fetching depiction of President Bush, mounted upon a steed, with sword raised aloft and leading a medieval army.

Users of the Australian Public Service Employment Database Internet Interface, part of the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC), which provides data drilling capabilities on APS employment levels, found their usually innocuous access point illegally modified sometime after July 2, 2004.

While government security agencies have declined to comment publicly on the attack, a spokesman for Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, Kevin Andrews, confirmed the incident to Computerworld.

"The site that was hacked into at the time was a one-page site marking the spot ... [the site] wasn't that sophisticated because the permanent site was still being developed. The permanent site is now up and running, and there's extra security on that so that what happened to the old site couldn't happen again," the spokesman said.

The spokesman confirmed the matter had been reported to the Defence Signals Directorate in line with mandatory IT security incident reporting requirements for federal government agencies, but refused to comment on what security requirements had been placed on either the APSC or its ostensibly secure hosting provider.

"In terms of what technical security arrangements were there then, and are there now, [we] are not comfortable divulging that," the spokesman said, also declining to comment on whether the APSC site had been inside or outside an IT security demilitarised zone (DMZ) at the time of the attack.

However, Computerworld understands the compromised site was running Microsoft Windows 2000 with the IIS 5.0 web server at the time of the attack.

Mirrors of the defacement show the attack appears to have been conducted by an individual or individuals known as "Apocalypse" and contained the text: "This is what the USA government are doing over in Iraq ... people open your eyes and see what your government is doing to make more enemies."

There is also an ambiguous text reference to "Free Martha Stewart".

The attack also carried a prominent dedication to French teenage hacker DkD[II, whose defacements frequently railed against US involvement in the Middle East and whose home page carried links to sites operated by pro-Palestinian organisations including Fateh, Hamas and the Al Aqsa Martyr's Brigade.

DkD[II, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was arrested and charged with computer crime offenses by French police in June 2003 following the defacement of a French police website.

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