First the New York Times, now the OC Register.
October 1, 2000 4:59 PM   Subscribe

First the New York Times, now the OC Register. This most recent defacement was Subversion of Information. One step closer to something more dastardly. (more inside)
posted by bkdelong (2 comments total)
The New York Times defacement was quite obviously a defacement. No question about it.

However at least 10 Freedom Communications Web sites were defaced on 9/20. They included the Freedom Communications main site, the Appeal-Democrat, the Times News, The Monitor, Kingston Free Press, The Valley Morning Star, The News Herald, The Odessa American, The Northwest Florida Daily News and POV Magazine. (Not many more publications left after that.)

While these computer security compromises were rather obvious and the original sites back up fairly quickly, another event with a Freedom Publication has occurred this weekend that is much more concerning.

Friday 9/29, early in the morning, the Orange County Register Web site was defaced. This defacement was much more subtle than previous Freedom intrusions. In this defacement, the alleged perpetrators modified an article blurb on the front page and made subtle modifications directly to a main article and 2 sidebar articles even leaking the alleged name of a confidential source. While it was obvious to most observers that the Web site was hacked, who's to say that this won't happen again and again - the next time so subtly that no one will notice the information may be incorrect.

So what could happen next? Making it so no one can tell if a quote is totally altered? Or statistics are modified? Or directional/instructional information changed? This can cause quite a few problems when people across the world are reading the Web sites of these publications. Whole communities can be galvanized in minutes to respond to a column printing controversial material or a public figure making a not-so PC comment. Why would they bother to check to see if it's factual? It's in the news. It MUST be factual.

Slightly on the dramatic side....but see where I'm going here? Then again, with the people I work with, we hear about things like this all the time.
posted by bkdelong at 5:01 PM on October 1, 2000

It seems to me that we might, at some point, need to have a debate about the relative merrits of information sources that are centralised (i.e. websites) and information sources that are distributed (i.e. newspapers).
posted by davidgentle at 5:37 PM on October 1, 2000

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