Hackers vandalize California sites

Posting anti-American and pro-China phrases, hackers defaced two California state agency Web sites April 30, on the heels of a similar act in which a half-dozen federal agency sites were vandalized.

"We saw the [news] articles predicting attempts to hack into U.S. sites, but we didn't expect our sites to be one of them," said Alfie Charles, spokesman for California Secretary of State Bill Jones, whose site (www.ss.ca.gov) was hacked at about 8:30 a.m. PST. The California Energy Commission site (www.energy.ca.gov) also was infiltrated.

Charles said a sub-page of Jones' site where the public can access information about lobbyists' campaign contributions was vandalized and inaccessible for several hours.

Hackers replaced the page with an image of a Chinese flag, followed by unintelligible text and then a statement reading, "Beat down Imperialism of American!" At the bottom of the page, statements read, "Maintains the reunification of the motherland! Guards the national sovereignty! Outside consistent resistance shame! Attack anti-Chinese arrogance!"

"The grammar's not all that impressive," Charles said. "Not that we would expect it to be."

The page was taken down and re-posted several hours later, and agency databases were protected by a firewall and not jeopardized, Charles said.

A joint local, state and federal high-tech crimes unit in Sacramento is investigating the attack, he said. His agency is assessing how the culprits were able to hack into the sites and what steps the agency can take to prevent future occurrences.

The California Energy Commission site's home page reportedly was replaced with similar anti-American, pro-Chinese statements. Officials did not return a message seeking comment for this report.

Last weekend, hackers claiming to be from China vandalized six federal Web sites. The FBI and the National Infrastructure Protection Center are investigating those incidents.

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