Hackers take out 156 Web sites in Vietnam

Hackers calling themselves revengetheplanet on Monday attacked 156 Web sites hosted by Vietnam's largest ISP (Internet service provider) and monopoly Internet gateway provider, Vietnam Data Communications Co. (VDC).

The intrusions were monitored by a foreign Internet services company in Vietnam which did not want to be publicly named as authorities have accused it of collusion in this attack and an earlier attack in August which erased 60 VDC-hosted Web sites.

The hackers, believed to be in based in the U.S., replaced the contents of the mainly government-linked Web sites with abuse about the weak level of Internet security maintained by VDC technicians. Many of the sites were down for as long as 10 hours, as the hackers were able to erase poorly secured backup content, according to the security company.

Apart from a variety of VDC's own sites, the hackers hit VDC-hosted sites belonging to government organizations such as the State Security Commission, the Communist Party umbrella group Vietnam Fatherland Front, the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Ministry of Education and Training. The hackers said they left alone a single VDC-hosted site called Cuu Tro Tre Em Tan Tat (Handicapped Children Relief).

Vietnam has five state-owned ISPs, of which VDC, a subsidiary of telecommunication monopoly carrier Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Corp. (VNPT), is the largest. VDC also controls the country's Internet gateways. All Web sites in the country must be hosted on government-approved servers, and there are strict regulations defining what content is acceptable.

Vietnam's government has approved plans to create an "electronic government" using the Internet, and has also said it wants to open up the Internet services market to private companies.

The government has said it encourages private Internet use and urges businesses to use e-commerce. Currently, around 0.2 percent of Vietnam's population have Internet subscriptions, and Web sites set up in Vietnam number only a few hundred.

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