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Hackers defaced collider site, say reports
Published: 2008-09-12

UPDATED: A group of online vandals compromised the security of a server at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) this week, putting up a Web page mocking the site's security but not the experiment, according to reports in two U.K. newspapers.

The attacks, which appear to have compromised a server at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), which runs the LHC, resulted in a server portal for one of the science teams being defaced by a group calling itself the Greek Security Team, according to an article in the U.K.-based Daily Telegraph. The defaced page mocked the security of the site, calling the IT staff "school kids," according to an article in the Times Online.

"We don’t know who they were but there seems to be no harm done," James Gillies, a spokesman for CERN, told the Times. "It appears to be people who want to make a point that CERN was hack-able."

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the largest particle collider in the world, made history this week when the giant $8-billion machine was activated and its first beam of particles completed the 27 kilometer circuit underground. The two test beams created so far have been dumped, as the technical teams calibrated and check the performance of the large experiment. Eventually, the collider will smash two beams of particles into each other in an attempt to detect elementary particles not present since the Big Bang and gain insight into the nature of gravity.

The hackers targeted a server hosting the portal for the science team responsible for the Compact Muon Solenoid Experiment (CMS) at CERN. The organization's press office did not immediately return an e-mailed request for comment.

UPDATE: Two readers who have translated the Greek Web site have disagreed with the newspaper reports of the incident. The defaced Web page does not belittle the LHC's security, but appears to make fun of other hackers in the Greek Internet underground scene, the readers maintain. More can be found on this security researcher's blog.

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Posted by: Robert Lemos
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