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Chinese protests force action at NATO

Chinese protesters furious at the weekend's bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade are attempting to bring down NATO's Web presence with some success.
Written by Jane Wakefield, Contributor

NATO's email system has been swamped by up to 400, mainly abusive, emails every five minutes. Nato confirmed that its phone lines have been blocked and the organisation's mail server is being upgraded to cope with the strain.

Filters are now in place to block all email from China which has delivered a spam and ping bombardment since the NATO airstrike on Friday according to Chris Scheurweghs, head of NATO's integrated data service.

Scheurweghs said the spam campaign was far from constructive and was not looking to ease diplomatic relations. "We accept criticism but when you get millions of messages saying `fuck you' that is not really criticism just an attempt to block the system," he said. The server upgrade and filters were rushed through weeks before NATO's system was due for an update.

The NATO Web site remains unaffected although Scheurweghs admitted there have been several attempts to enter the site: "There is 24 hour maintenance on the site and at the moment we don't have a problem," he said.

This weekend, the US Department of the Interior Web site was successfully hacked. Graphics on the home page were replaced with pictures of the victims of the bombing.

At home, a senior government official denied UK government Web sites had been targeted by cyber terrorists in response to the bombing. He admitted the Kosovo crisis had increased the frequency of cyber attacks but "was unaware of hacking as a result of recent events". This view was echoed by a MOD spokesman claiming attempts to hack defence systems have increased as a result of the Kosovo conflict but all attempts had failed so far.

A spokeswoman for GCHQ, which recently hosted a conference highlighting the dangers of hacking to critical government and infrastructure networks, pointed out the differences between secure systems and publicly accessible Web sites. While she admitted government Web sites may be at risk, she claimed there was no danger to sensitive data. "UK government systems don't get hacked into. They are secure," she said.

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