Scottish hackers declare war on Wales

Hackers invade Scotland government site, threaten "sheep-stealing" Welsh.

A group of Scottish hackers who cracked Scotland's official government Web site Wednesday declared war on the people of Wales for stealing 5000 Scottish sheep.

The "Hardcore Highland Haxxors" also made a more serious political statement by replacing a picture of the First Minister of Scotland, Donald Dewar, with one of Alex Salmond, leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party. Although the defaced page has been removed, the Scottish government's Web site was still down as of Thursday afternoon.

A spokesperson from the Scottish parliament, perhaps unsurprisingly, did not consider the Welsh war declaration an earth-shaking matter. "I don't think the messages were really serious. I don't really know what they were all about. I think it was some sort of abstract humour. It just shows that security needs to be a bit tighter."

This slightly comical hack does have a more serious side however. It comes just a week after UK security group highlighted weaknesses in the security of the Scottish government's Internet presence. By a strange coincidence, the DNS Web site on which these warnings were publicised was also currently inaccessible as of Thursday afternoon.

One hacker, calling himself Harlequin, downplayed DNS' possible involvement in the Scottish hack. "Although some blame might be attributed to them, I think they have done nothing more than a public service," he says. "Pointing out faults in systems can only be a good thing, especially if it means the problems get fixed and people become more aware of information security issues."