Malicious computer hackers broke into ITN's email system over the weekend and used the exploit to send out thousands of abusive mails to ITN subscribers.
ITN, one of Britain's premier news services, told ZDNet Monday that no serious damage was done to its system and no important data was taken.
Pointing the finger at malevolent delinquents a spokesman says: "Somebody managed to hack the email system and send out an extremely childish message."
"From the look of it they must have been about ten years old."
The spokeswoman concedes ITN's embarrassment and believes the stunt highlights just how vulnerable most companies are to hackers.
"People can hack into anything. It's very regrettable and we hope that it won't happen again. We sent out an immediate apology."
ITN's Web site was temporarily inaccessible Monday. Another ITN spokeswoman blames this on an unrelated Web server problem.
Unprotected email can be a weak link in a security infrastructure. Web sites that can be redirected with an email message are vulnerable to email addresses spoofing, as a recent incident in the US highlights. Security experts recommend using encrypted email such as the PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) application in order to validate emails.
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